Well I burned the turkey. Me! I can't believe it. I was cooking it at my house while we made the rest of the fixin's at Matt's house. I know that if Matt ever does get around to getting his pilot's license we'll get along great as copilots, because one thing he and I like to do together is cook. See, we both love to eat, ergo... And we work well together in the kitchen. So we decided to give Alisha the day off from cooking and do a meal for others who have nowhere else to go on Thanksgiving. We'd take care of everything. Heh.
The plan was to do the turkey at my place, and while it was cooking I would head over to Matt's to help prepare the rest of the mean. He had a recipe for dressing that he said was out-of-this-world that he wanted to try. Mostly, we just usually do the Stove-Top thing, because: a) It's so easy that any idiots (including us) can do it; and b) It's delicious! But Matt wanted to try this complicated dressing/stuffing recipe that he'd gotten from his aunt. The ingredients with respect to certain brand names were very specific. Not stuff you'd find on the shelves at Wal-Mart.
The directions for the turkey said 5:30 to 6:00 hours at 325 degrees for its weight (20 pounds). But I just had a feeling it wasn't going to take that long. Nevertheless, I put it in the oven at 8:00 am and left, worrying that when I returned I'd find the firemen hosing down the smoldering pile of ashes that had once been my house. Bad idea.
I got back to the house around 12:30. The house hadn't burned down, but the oven was smoking pretty good. My parakeets had flown over to the phone and were trying unsuccessfully to peck "911" with their little beaks, poor things. The built-in pop-up thingee on the turkey had already popped. I stuck a thermometer in the breast, looking for 185 degrees. I was dismayed to see the needle go right up to 200. Oops! Four-and-a-half hours, not six! Damn you, directions! And don't blame my oven, either. I've calibrated the temperature setting on the knob with the actual temperature in the oven. I am a pilot - I am anal like that. Well, not anal enough to actually watch over something as it cooks, just anal about some things.
Matt's out-of-this-world dressing recipe called for boiling then shredding a chicken and then adding that to the mix. Needless to say, we weren't about to boil any chicken when Wal-Mart sells broiled chickens for four bucks. Boiled...broiled, what's the difference? So with the huge (over)cooked turkey in the passenger seat (the car smelled wonderful!), juices overflowing from the pan (should've drained it), I gingerly drove to Matt's, stopping on the way at Wal-Mart (of course they were open) to see if they had any of those pre-cooked chickens (of course they did - a ton of them.) At the checkout line, people were eyeing me with pity. "Oh, the poor, old, pathetic single guy, buying a Wal-Mart chicken to eat by himself on Thanksgiving." When I saw that look on the face of the lady behind me in line, I said, "IT'S FOR THE DRESSING!" loud enough for everyone to hear.
Finally, the meal started coming together. Aside from not boiling a chicken, we had to make a few other substitutions as well. Like, we used packaged chicken stock and we didn't put in the onions and celery as the recipe called for (personal choice there - dressing shouldn't be crunchy).
All in all, there was a ton of food. Too much food. Much more than necessary for the small number of people we ended up feeding. The no-shows had obviously found better places to be - a good thing, let's hope. And yeah, the turkey was kind of dry, but that's why God invented gravy. (Mmmmm, gravy!) The dryness of the turkey was more than made up for by Matt's aunt's dressing which was, I have to admit, out-of-this-world and worth cooking again on non-Thanksgiving days.
But even with all that wonderful food, we were good. We didn't gorge ourselves that badly (had to leave room for the two pies...and ice cream of course). In anticipation, Matt had worn his loosest baggy pants. I would have, but none of my pants are really all that loose since I'm still pretending that I have a 34" waist.
By the end of the meal, I had pretty much drained a bottle of red, and was feeling very good indeed. Matt and Alisha both drink white wine. When I visit, as a good guest I don't like to arrive empty-handed so I usually bring over a nice bottle of...well, red. And I usually have it all to myself. (How can people even drink white wine? Sheesh. Cold wine? Over ice?? Heathens!)
Good friend that I am, I took Matt's brother Jacob back to his house (he's between motorcycles at the moment). I left Matt and Alisha with the dishes and cleanup. And the turkey, by the way.
Although I wasn't with my own family this year, I was with the people who are equally close to me. I don't know whether I've adopted Matt, Alisha, Jacob and Gene or they've adopted me. Either way, they are my family now. And it was the best Thanksgiving ever. Of course, I say that every year. And every year I mean it, for every year it's true. They keep getting better and better as every year I have more and more to be thankful for ;-)
I hope your Thanksgiving was as enjoyable - wherever, and with whomever you spent it.
I wonder if Matt still has any of that dressing left over?