Every year, while I prepare our Thanksgiving meal, such as it is, I tune into The Splendid Table’s annual live call-in show, Turkey Confidential, on National Public Radio. Food experts talk turkey about all sorts of dishes I’d love to gobble up. (Don’t worry. I’ve now used up all my turkey puns.)
And on the biggest cooking day of the year, Turkey Confidential guests come to the rescue of cooks in crisis. I’ve always appreciated how they don’t shame their callers for forgetting to thaw the turkey or using instant mashed potatoes. But I’ve never had the nerve to call them myself, though I have had some cooking crises, and not just on Thanksgiving. It may be called Turkey Confidential but it’s on the radio, so how confidential can it be.
If I had overcome my embarrassment, there are a few calls I would have made over the many years I’ve listened to the show. I trust you to keep these in confidence.
1) Help! My goose is cooked but my turkey isn’t. I told my guests we’d eat at noon. Then I told them 1. It’s now 2. The relish tray is empty and someone sampled the pumpkin pie, but the turkey juices are far from clear and the little pop-up thingie shows no sign of popping up. Opening the oven every five minutes to check probably isn’t helping.
I should have seen this coming. Our turkey wasn’t quite thawed even after it sat in our fridge for four days, maybe because our refrigerator runs a little cold. That usually isn’t a problem, since I mostly use it just to keep drinking water cold.
If that weren’t bad enough, our oven has been running a little cold too. This isn’t as big of a problem as you’d think because I rarely use it. And a repairman told me that if I added 30 degrees to whatever temperature setting the recipe called for, I could get by for a long time, especially as little as I use my oven. But I’m beginning to wonder now if 30 degrees is enough.
My question is, should I go ahead and serve my guests leftover tuna casserole now and have the turkey as a bedtime snack? A lot of people sleep after Thanksgiving dinner anyway.
2) How do you get rid of those little lumps in the gravy and is it absolutely necessary that you do so? In the past, I’ve always told my guests that my gravy recipe includes little dumplings.
3) Does the five-second rule apply if you drop the turkey as you’re moving it from the oven to the counter? Asking for a friend.
In case you’re not familiar with it, the five-second rule is the theory that it’s safe to pick up and eat food that has fallen on the floor as long as you do it within five seconds of dropping it. It’s silly, of course. I base my judgment about whether to eat what has fallen entirely on what was dropped, where it was dropped and who saw me drop it.
And I’ve never yet dropped a turkey. But I’ve lived in fear of it ever since what my family kindly refers to as the Swiss steak incident. We went out to dinner after that. But have you ever tried to find an open restaurant on Thanksgiving Day?
4) I have a little problem. Actually it’s a big problem. My overly-enthusiastic husband bought a turkey so big it barely fits in our refrigerator. I’m not exaggerating. We had to remove the shelf above it to make room for it and that leaves very little space for anything else. We’ll probably have to serve our turkey with no sides. My question is, can we come to your house for Thanksgiving dinner?
(Dorothy Rosby is the author of several humor books including Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Worry About, Humorous Essays on the Hazards of Our Time available in early 2020. Contact [email protected])