Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The New Year's story.

I won a turkey. Me, someone who never wins anything: I. Won. A. Turkey. And so I invited some friends over on New Year's Eve to eat it.

Now, I have never before cooked a turkey. I have assisted my mother and my mother-in-law in preparing and roasting the bird, but I have never been the one in charge, never been the one to direct the turkey-cooking activities.

And so Mr. Plainsfeminist went to the supermarket on Thursday with the winning certificate and returned home with the 20-pound frozen turkey. Into the fridge to thaw.

Now: some people, and the instructions that come with a frozen turkey, say that you can defrost the thing by leaving it in the refrigerator. In my own defense, I'd like to note that this has NEVER been true at any of the Thanksgivings I've attended. Our turkey-related holidays have always been characterized by a turkey that threatens not to thaw out in time to be cooked.

And so, two days later, I took that turkey out of the fridge and I set it on the counter.

I poked it. It seemed to yield. I realized that I couldn't tell how frozen or thawed it was without taking off the plastic and feeling around inside. So I removed the plastic covering, immediately getting anxious about e coli and salmonella as one or two drops of blood dripped from the wrapping onto the counter and floor. Once the plastic was off, I discovered that the outside seemed thawed, but that the inside, as far as I could tell from poking my hands around in there up to my elbows, was a solid block of ice. After some thought, I rewrapped it and stuck it back in the cold oven the oven (I have two cats, and sitting it on the kitchen counter didn't seem like the best idea.).

About five or six hours later, I couldn't stand it anymore - I was worried about leaving it unrefrigerated. So, back it went into the fridge from 3:00am until 9:30 the next morning, when Mr. Plainsfeminist took it out. At 11:00, I checked it again - still frozen, or so I thought. As I was once again fishing around inside there, trying to find the missing innards that usually come packaged in a paper bag, a large chunk of ice suddenly came out in my hand, and I realized that the bird had been completely thawed for some time, but that a chunk of ice in the cavity had been sitting there fooling me.

So now the question was: do I cook and serve this bird that has been thawed and unrefrigerated for hours? Or do I toss it and send Mr. Plainsfeminist to the store at the eleventh hour to get a nice pot roast for the crockpot?

Well, I did what anyone else would have done: I called my mommy. And my mommy said, "well, I'm sure it's fine. You didn't take the plastic off, did you?"

Um...yeah. Yeah, I kinda did.

"Oh, well, I think it will be ok. ...the outside isn't soft, is it?"

Well, yeah, actually, it's soft.

"Oh. Well. Well, I'm sure it will be ok. It *is* cold to the touch, right?"

Mom, I've just had my hand inside the bird's ass for some time, wrestling out chunks of ice. I have no sensation in my hands., but actually, come to think of it, it does feel kind of warm.

"Oh, just cook it. It will be fine."

Meanwhile, I'm lookin' at this bird, at its yellow, puckery flesh, and now that it's not frozen, I realize that it is, in fact, a corpse. A turkey corpse. A dead, probably-already-rotting-because-I-neglected-to-refrigerate-it corpse.

I knew right then I could not eat it, not once I'd seen it as a cadaver full of salmonella, rotting away on my countertop. But what of my guests?

I am obsessive compulsive. Can you guess what I did?

The pot roast was delicious.


Sam Rosenberg said...

when you say "Turkey Holidays" I would assume you have visited turkey already

math4knitters said...

It was a very yummy potroast. Next time, you can do a soak in ice-cold brine, which is nice because it's cold and has salt - which is a preservative. You can even borrow my bucket (with a lid, to thwart kitties).

Plain(s)feminist said...


I didn't write "Turkey Holidays." I wrote "turkey-related holidays." The lowercase "t" means that I was not referring to the country.