I have personally prepared, or helped prepare, more than 40 Thanksgiving turkeys over the years, several of which were entirely edible.
Drawing on my vast experience, and occasional use of fire extinguishers, I wish to address frequently asked questions concerning how to prepare the perfect Thanksgiving feast.
My thinking behind this offering is simple: Don’t Make Thanksgiving Cooking Mistakes — Let Me Make Them For You!
The most obvious concerns are about proper length of time for cooking.
“Exactly how long does it take to roast a turkey?”
Traditionally, for an oven-roasted bird, you multiply the number of pounds the turkey weighs by 15 (15 minutes per pound). Being leery of undercooked poultry, I suggest taking the product of the turkey weight times 15, then multiplying that number by the sum of all the numbers in your cellphone number (including area code). Not once has anyone complained that my turkey was undercooked. My turkeys may taste like the bottom of your shoe, but they are never undercooked.
“Does a splash of white wine in the gravy help?”
It has been my experience that wine doesn’t do all that much for the gravy, but it can have a calming influence on the cook.
“What do you consider an essential kitchen tool for preparing a turkey?”
Experts say a waterproof digital thermometer is essential. The best ones are available at high-end home goods stores and are very expensive. The essential kitchen tool I cannot do without is a small DeWalt drill (comes in an adorable yellow carrying case) with a masonry bit able to penetrate concrete. You’ll use a thermometer once or twice cooking a large bird, but you will use a drill multiple times trying to determine what is going on deep inside the still-frozen beast.
“How do you remove the bag of internal organs, bits of intestines and waddle buried deep inside the bird?”
For many years, I wore plastic gloves and wrestled the bag out with a wrench. Eventually, I discovered that I am mentally healthier, and more able to enjoy the holiday, by leaving the disgusting little bag inside and letting it explode. Make sure you have a self-cleaning oven. Oh, and work on looking surprised.
The best turkeys ever were the ones my grandma made: golden-brown on the outside and pure deliciousness on the inside. Unfortunately, I have no idea how she made them because I was a kid, one of 23 first cousins on my mother’s side, all of whom were routinely told to “Get outside and stay outside!”
“What is the best turkey you have ever served?”
Hands down, the best turkey I ever served was a tender turkey breast, smoked, thinly sliced, and purchased at Honey Baked Ham.
Lori Borgman, an author and speaker, writes this column for the Tribune News Service. Her new book, “What Happens at Grandma’s Stays at Grandma’s” is now available. Email her at email@example.com.