Which is the greatest supporting evidence to my claim that I am now a home cook: that I successfully cooked my first turkey or that I bought myself a knife called a cleaver?
Cooking my first bird is a big step. At the somewhat ancient age of 46 I bought, bathed, and baked my first holiday bird. This is a big deal. For starters, I’m not much of a shopper. Amazon and Stitch Fix were created with me in mind. So naturally when presented with the dilemma of buying a not too big turkey (“under 14 pounds please” was my dad’s suggestion, going as far as to request an 8 to 10 pound turkey), I naturally tried to order it online through Raleys. Under the 10-14lb fresh young turkey (are some turkeys “old”?) I placed an order for the smallest option, a 10.5 pounder. That part wasn’t so difficult. Honestly the only difficult part of this step was the fact that although I paid for a 10.5 pound turkey, that’s not what I got.
I drove home from the eCart slot at Raley’s with the heaviest 10-pound bird imaginable. So heavy, my scrappy sixteen-year-old son could barely hoist it chest level. So heavy and rotund it barely fit in our prep sink for its required bath. So heavy, it needed an extra hour and a half of bake time in the oven. Yes, my heaviest 10 pound bird in the world weighed in at 16.81 pounds. With great effort I held it in a hover over the sink and rocked it this way and that while my son showered the bird with the faucet sprayer. We patted it dry. We fished out the neck, innards, and unrecognizable gunk. We stuffed it with herbs, tied its ankles together, wrangled its wings beneath its girth, and painted its flesh with butter. Then in the oven it went. The actual baking part was so easy a child could do it – if said child was really strong.
But all credit for our successfully baked bird should go to Chef John with Foodwishes.com’s and his Youtube video titled Easy Roast Turkey for Beginners (this recipe video has over 2,500 comments!). True to Chef John’s guesstimate, the bird cooked 15 minutes per pound. Our turkey was prompt, ready right on the four-hour mark, and had to wait for the rest of the menu. Not only did the bird look good, it tasted good. Best of all, the turkey was delicious in my family’s traditional turkey leftover casserole: Turkey Tortilla Casserole, which I cooked and it was yummy.
Buying, prepping, baking and eating the turkey was quite the feat, but it was not a solo victory. My sixteen-year-old son prepared his first Thanksgiving Turkey thirty years and two days sooner than me. I’m proud of him. He’s proud of me. I’m not sure who’s prouder. My parents are delirious.