This Thanksgiving season it seems I’m on the receiving end of an inordinate amount of advice on how to cook the turkey, and most of this advice is coming from men, most of whom have never even tasted my Thanksgiving turkey.
My husband started it. He happened to be listening to the radio and some chef was the guest and he was giving out pointers on how to prepare Thanksgiving turkey. He said you should never baste the turkey (I stopped that years ago) because every time you open the oven, it releases the heat and that forces you to cook the turkey longer, which dries it out. Ditto with cooking the turkey with the stuffing in it (because it also takes longer and dries it out). This chef did say something interesting though. He said you should remove the turkey from the oven before it hits its ideal temperature, then wrap it in a blanket and let it finish cooking outside the oven. This will prevent the breast meat from getting dry as well. And while my husband and this radio chef may or not be experts on dry breasts, my husband has the distinction of having eaten my turkey before. But removing the turkey early and hoping it finishes cooking on the counter gives me nightmares with little dancing salmonellas. I don’t want to be that Black Friday headline.
Then yesterday, my son’s dentist gave me turkey cooking advice, because as we all know, the American Dental Association and its protégés are experts at removing plaque and cooking poultry. He said, and I’d heard this before, that I should could the turkey breast-side down so all the juices collect in the breast meat, turning it over for only the last thirty minutes or so, to let the top brown. Makes sense, but how undignified for that poor turkey, stuck upside down in the oven like that.
A few of my male friends do cook the turkey for their families every year, and therefore are fully capable of dispensing advice to me on the subject. My one friend, we’ll call him “Bob,” deep-fries his. He suggested I try this method and while everyone I know who has tried it, my friend “Karen” included, raves about it, I keep going back to the one time “Bob” almost burned down his garage. Then there’s “Eric” who has perhaps my favorite Thanksgiving turkey cooking story. “Eric” grills his turkey, which means for three hours he sits on his back porch sipping his beer and “watching” the turkey cook (No peeking! See above^), while everyone inside is frantically whipping mashed potatoes and candying yams. That is until a couple of years ago when his mother-in-law stepped outside to tell him, ”You know, we’re all on to you out here,” and he had to go inside and chop some onions.
With all these men talking turkey to me this year, it makes me defensive of my dried out
breasts turkey breast meat. Maybe I will try something new, like the upside down cooking or the pulling it out of the oven early. Or, I could just do what the radio chef said I would do, cook the turkey the same way I have been for the last fifteen years. Sigh. When this is all over, I hope someone snuggles me in a warm blanket and sets me on the counter to rest.