Topic Spill

Where my ideas meet reality.

My First Turkey And Why I’m Terrified Of It.

I’m 27 years old and I’ve always found an escape route from the inevitable tradition of baking a turkey for Thanksgiving. It’s not that I’m lazy or don’t want to participate in tradition. It’s that I’m scared shitless of cooking whole birds. Go ahead and laugh, it really is funny.

So imagine if you will a rookie cook. (Not that I’m a pro now!) I was making the most romantic of dinners, Cornish hen. This was of course my first attempt at cooking a whole bird. I wasn’t scared, in fact I was fearless. I would impress the boy I was suiting with my homemade awesomeness and he would think I was the next Iron Chef. Or so I thought.

So here I am, a little intimidated by the fact that I’m about to stick my hand up a bird’s ass. I talk myself into it by reminding myself how the way to a man’s heart is through food. So here I go, hands first to dig out the giblet bag. I found that it was really difficult to remove. I thought I was doing something wrong. Should this thing not just slide out? What was it tied to? I looked around to see how it was secured and I was confident there was no more material that needed to be removed. That sucker just wouldn’t budge. I read the directions over and over thinking I was missing something. What could I be missing, all you do is pull! Why won’t this bad boy come out! So I give it the fiercest of a pull.

That’s when things went so dramatically wrong. The giblet bag burst! All over me, my hands, my clothes, and even my face. At this point it’s all I can do to not stuff these damn birds with vomit. I’m trying to figure out how this happened when I realized the giblets were still frozen. Apparently I missed the memo that you have to let the bird fully thaw before attempting to remove the giblets.

Not to let the giblet bag win I continued to dig out frozen bags from the rest on the hen’s asses. It was rather mortifying but I had to make this awesome dinner or risk losing the Martha Stewart stamp of approval I was so desperately seeking. I cooked those damn hens and fed them to my date. But it was months before I could even think about eating poultry again let alone cook it.

After the recurring nightmares stopped and the PTSD subsided I was finally able to cook poultry again. But I’ve never cooked a whole bird since that day.  It’s been nearly 10 years now and I’m contemplating making my first Thanksgiving turkey. But I have so many questions! How do I make it taste unique? How do I know when it’s done? Is there such a thing as a giblet free turkey?

So this is where I need help. Do you have an awesome turkey recipe or advice on cooking whole birds? Perhaps you have a funny story that will help me through this potentially traumatic ordeal? Please share your experiences with me in the comments, and thank you in advance for helping me through this. With time I may one day achieve the ultimate success of becoming the next Iron Chef. Until then, I’m just that girl who once had bird guts explode on her.


  1. Jim

    Get a “pre-basted” bird. Make sure it has a pop up indicator, but just to be sure, you should have a extra probe thermometer, too. Let it warm up a little bit before putting it into the oven… rinsing it thoroughly with luke warm water. truss the turkey. Don’t stuff the turkey with stuffing, but you can put some herbs in it. Brush skin with butter. But some veggies and a little herb in the bottom of the cooking pan with a cup of water, and use a V-rack (with foil on it and Pam) to keep the bird above the pan. Poke holes in the foil on the V-rack. Set oven to 400 degrees, and wait until the oven is to temperature.

    Cook the bird about 30 minutes bottom side up in the rack.
    Use potholders or something to rotate the bird to have one of the sides sticking up for 15 minutes, then do the same for the other side for 15. If the water in the pan runs out during the turning process, put in 1/2 cup more.
    When that’s done, put it breast side up and cook the rest of the way, according to the weight of the bird.

    you can use the Veggies in the bottom of the rack to mush up and use as an additive for gravy. YUM!

  2. IAMM3Z

    Hey there Jim!

    Thank you for your response.

    My work gave me the turkey so I’m not sure if it’s “pre-basted” or not. I will have to check it out when I pick it up. Your method sounds like a good way to ensure it doesn’t dry out. I’m curious about one thing though… Why don’t you put the stuffing in it?

  3. Pingback: My First Turkey – Diary « Topic Spill

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