A Thanksgiving Disaster

Years ago, we had a most interesting Thanksgiving and it all had to do with my family’s love of dark meat.

While most Americans prefer white meat turkey, my family was primarily a dark meat gang.

One year at Thanksgiving we had about a dozen people for dinner. When we were done, the back of the turkey looked like it had been dipped in acid with not a morsel left.  However, the breast was almost totally intact.

The following year I thought I was being smart by ordering a turkey and four extra legs–plenty of dark meat for all. Went to the store, and picked up two enormous (and expensive) bags with the turkey in them.

Thanksgiving morning we took the bags out to see how big the bird was.

One giant turkey leg.

Two giant legs.

Three giant legs.

Four giant legs…oops, no turkey.

Even in New York City, have you ever tried buying a turkey on Thanksgiving day?

We finally ended up with a frozen kosher bird. My father and I worked to defrost it, alternating between a hair-dryer, and water bath.

Don’t even start with “you’re never supposed to defrost anything that way” comments.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Finally, after a couple of hours we got it defrosted, stuffed and put it and the giant legs in the oven.

If you’re wondering why we felt the need for a whole bird, two word–inside stuffing. It’s just so much better when it’s cooked in the bird (and I know the same people who are against speed defrosting are probably anti-inside stuffing too…tough).

Accidental Locavore Thanksgiving Turkey Leg EatenDinner was only delayed by about four hours, we were getting low on wine, so everyone was pretty wasted, not to mention hungry, by the time we sat down for dinner.

But we knew we had a story for the family history book. Ever since then, we just buy a whole turkey, and if someone wants extra legs, it’s strictly BYO.

What was your most memorable or disaster ridden Thanksgiving?


10 thoughts on “A Thanksgiving Disaster”

  1. My mother was a lousy cook (she couldn’t even boil an egg), yet she always invited a lot of people over for Thanksgiving. The usual drill was that I would pop to Boston the night before the holiday and take care of cooking — so that no one got sick. But there was a major snowstorm that had me grounded in NYC until mid-day of Thanksgiving, and she took it upon herself to cook. The turkey she bought was the type with a button that pops out to indicate it’s ready to take out of the oven. For no known reason, she put the Turkey in the oven the night before Thanksgiving, checked on it later and saw that the button had popped up. It was the first time she noticed the button, and assumed that it was supposed to recede into the turkey. She was up all night, checking on it, waiting for that button to sink down. She was still cooking it when I got there the next afternoon. I looked into the oven, and the bones of the chicken had pretty much melted: the turkey had collapsed into itself. Practically flat. Well, we served it anyway. There were bone chards in almost every bite, so she put a big bowl in the center of the table (she called it the “bone bowl”). Every time someone bit on a bone, they would take it out of their mouth and throw it into the bone bowl. Preposterous. The odd thing was, the turkey was delicious.

  2. Like you, we just ended up eating much later than originally planned. By then we were almost out of wine, so I’m not sure anyone really noticed what the turkey tasted like! 😉

  3. I’m sure it all tasted wonderful when you all sat down to eat.
    My first Thanksgiving turkey that I cooked was in a small apartment with a small oven that was on a crooked floor. When I slid the rack out to check the bird and oops, the pan slipped right off the rack and onto the floor with the bird falling out of the pan. Needless to say I picked up the turkey and put it right back into that pan.
    Not sure if it was last year or the year before, remember I turned off the oven accidentally in the early cooking process and many hours later realized that the oven was off. Dinner was delayed for several hours.

  4. Ha! That’s almost as funny as a guy I worked with who accidentally ate the plastic thing that pops up to tell you when it’s done…

  5. I was in a residency hotel after being transferred to my new city. I’d barely been at the hotel, having traveled for a month meeting clients in a hand-off. But I did decide to cook a Thanksgiving dinner and when I asked my nephew to open the oven door, we discovered … there was no oven, only a stove.

    (Fortunately, I had signed a lease on an apartment. No furniture — but it did have an oven.)

  6. When Joe and I were first married I was excited to cook my very first Thanksgiving dinner.
    Everything went really well until it was time to carve the turkey; I didn’t know I was supposed to take a plastic bag of innards out of the turkey before roasting…

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