First Time Cooking a Turkey

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Since I’ve been away from home I haven’t had a turkey on Thanksgiving.  Each year Thanksgiving has been celebrated with an eclectic mixture of food outside the normal range of Thanksgiving day dishes.  Since this will be my last year in Spain (hopefully for the time being), I wanted to surprise my friends with a Turkey, to provide the most iconic dish for those who have never celebrated it, or to those that have, but may have never had a turkey.

My preparation for the big day started three weeks earlier.  I asked my butcher friend if he would be able to get me a turkey and he said he knew a guy.  A week and a half before turkey day I went to see him so that I could tell him the size of the bird I wanted; somewhere between 6-7 kilos (13-15 pounds).  During the week I also spent time talking to my dad about the best way to cook a turkey and consulted various online recipes and pinterest.  A week before, I went to see my butcher friend again to get the only knife I have sharpened and to confirm the size I wanted.  An added bonus was that I got to meet the turkey guy (he was there talking to my friend).  The Tuesday leading up to Thanksgiving I picked up my turkey and a meat thermometer.  From the moment I woke up I was like a little kid anticipating Santa’s arrival, I couldn’t wait to get my turkey.  Once the turkey was safely in my fridge where it would sit until Thursday, I had to think about obtaining one more thing, a pan to fit the turkey in.  Luckily my friend Alex had one.

Roasting the Turkey

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Cooking a turkey is a lot of work from start to finish, it is a long process that requires constant attention and when it’s your first time, constant prayer.  The turkey cooking process began at 4:30 with the preheating of the oven and ended around 10:10 with it carved and ready to serve.  This was my recipe:

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I didn’t have a turkey rack so I had to improvise. I spiraled aluminium foil and used carrots to keep the turkey off the pan and out if its juices.

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In a moment of despair the pan didn’t fit properly into my oven rack, it was slightly too small so it kept falling out.  Luckily I was holding it the whole time so nothing happened, but I didn’t know how to resolve the issue.  As my carefully managed time slipped away Mitch came up with a brilliant idea to put aluminum foil on the edges to create a snug fit.  I had my doubts, but it worked.  The only problem was, I had to take the turkey out every 45 minutes to baste it.  Each time I put it back in, I had flashbacks to my initial attempt, I tried to keep the images of it slipping out out of my head.  As the basting periods progressed and we got closer to the end game the stakes got higher.  The result would be dire if something were to happen to the turkey or to the cooking process as we got closer to the end, but nothing did.  I kept my eye on that turkey like a parent watching their kid at a playground.  As we got closer, I facetimed my dad for assistance and guidance on how to be sure if the turkey is done (really one can never be sure).   Throughout the whole process Mitch provided constant encouragement and patience of not having answers to questions I didn’t have answers to (as neither of us has ever cooked a turkey before).  If I were alone, it would have been a much more stressful process. The turkey came out around 8:20  and sat in a cozy aluminium foil tent until about 9:40 when I started the cutting process.  I had to watch a video on how to cut a turkey and with the help of Mitch continually refer back to it while cutting it.  It wasn’t easy as my knife (even though sharpened) still wasn’t that sharp.  At points I had to use scissors or brute strength to separate the wings or legs.

In the end, the turkey came out exceptional, it was perfectly moist and I’m not just saying that because I cooked it.  Maybe it was beginners luck or maybe I’m a natural turkey cooker.  Until the next time.

 

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