When our editors asked that we submit our first attempt at hosting a holiday meal my first thought was "this should be easy." Easy because my somewhat disastrous first attempt has already been immortalized on my friend Laura's blog "The Daily Bite". This story is a bit humiliating but considering we were laughing so hard at the predicament as it was happening (as we still do two years later), I decided to go ahead and share it.
Let me just preface this with this: I have a very small kitchen with a very small oven and not much in the way of counter space. I've also never attempted to cook an entire chicken, let alone a turkey. To be frank, I had no idea what I was getting into. I figured "How hard can this be?," a phrase that passes through my lips often, much to the chagrin of my friends and family. So I planned a menu: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin and custard pie, mulled cider and of course, turkey. Standard fare. I invited Laura to join and then set to work.
First problem: I got in and started at 4pm — for a 6:30 dinner. I had picked up the smallest turkey I could find, which was still enormous, and figured it would take a couple of hours at the most to cook. Here is what I did not consider, I stuffed the bird which adds time and I was attempting to cook 3 dishes in the same oven, which also adds time. A lot of time.
Another major oversight, I bought the cheapest, floppiest, tin pan to cook it in. Which was fine when the bird was cold, I could support it on both arms and there were no scalding hot juices to slosh over the edges as I attempted desperately to remove the bird from my tiny oven. An oven with shelves that tipped forward precariously as soon as you slid them out even the tiniest bit.
The rest I cannot do justice so I am just going to quote Laura, for the full gory details head over to her blog, "The Daily Bite"...
"I had to laugh when around 6:30 I got a text saying "Dinner is still cooking, come a little later." I arrived at the mall near Kim's house at the new appointed time and meandered around shopping because, "THE STUPID BIRD IS STILL COOKING!"
At 9:00 I arrived door side and walked into the hottest kitchen in the world. "The turkey has these little tab things that are supposed to pop when the turkey is done, but they won't pop!!!!! If it wasn't so hot in here I would think the oven wasn't working."
Her pumpkin pie finished cooking around 9:30, while I ate left over potatoes, sweet and mashed (the first course). As she pulled the pie out of the oven, the tabs, well, one tab, popped from the turkey. Finally done. Pulling it out of the oven was an adventure in and of itself because her little downtown Boston apartment has no counter space. Once it was out of the oven, she turned it over to realize that she stuffed the butt of the turkey instead of the top. Pulling out the stuffing she found the neck of the turkey still chillen' in the area where the stuffing should have been. "Well, it did say, 'breast side up'. I wasn't sure what side that was, so I tried to picture it covered in feathers and walking around. I think this is right? But it's not a pretty color. My mom's turkey's come out of the oven all golden and crispy and pretty."
1800-Butterball" I said jokingly. "Excuse me, ma'am, which side is the breast of the turkey, because I'm pretty sure that I just stuffed the butt." When I left, the custard pie was still uncooked in the fridge."