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Yesterday began the fifth annual test-half-a-million-recipes-in-the-run-up-to-the-holiday-Menu-Mailers marathon that we
have every year in the Foster household.
Truth be told, we don’t do Thanksgiving at Thanksgiving. We don’t do Christmas at Christmas. Why? Because by the time the holiday rolls around, I’ve tested so many turkey, dressing and side dish recipes that if I have to cook them one more time, I’ll puke. The kids are plotting full-scale revolt and beg me to fix anything but. My husband grits out a smile every time yet another slab of turkey lands on the dinner table in front of him.
I appreciate my mom. When Turkey day finally rolls around, she buys a big ham and fusses over what side dishes she wants to fix. My contribution is to buy some paper plates, slap some green beans and sweet potatoes on the table and call it a meal. I’m done.
Yesterday, we began with the turkey breast (I can’t get whole turkeys locally yet) and sweet potato side dish. I was determined to ignore that I was sleep-deprived. I was just fine. I was up to the task.
I can cook turkeys in my sleep by now!
I glanced up from my desk after an hour and a half to realize that I had set the temperature wrong. I had it 100 degrees too high, I didn’t turn it down after thirty minutes like I was supposed to.
Whoops! I’ll just run right over and turn it back down to 350. I had a probe thermometer in the bird, so all would be well. Right?
After 3 hours in the oven, I went to take a look. The probe thermometer said
138 degrees? Oh…. that’s interesting. It should be done by now! Let’s pull it out and take a look.
I pulled out one georgous turkey.
All together now… ohhhhhhh….aahhhhhhhhhhhh.
Looks nice, doesn’t it? Beautifully browned. Let’s take a closer look.
Hmmm….. What’s that black stuff? Maybe the pan drippings burnt because I had the temp too high at the beginning. The meat should be fine, though. That’s why I always put meat for roasting on a rack, right?
The thermometer says it’s under-done in the center, but that’s ok, it’s a flop at this point, anyway. By the time the middle is done, the rest will be over-done.
Let’s cut into it.
ACK!!! What happened!?!?! The meat didn’t cut, it crumbled into little dried bits under the pressure of the knife. It fell to pieces, and not in a melt-in-your-mouth way, either. It was shoe leather!
I broke out my second probe thermometer and popped it into the uncut side of the breast.
So… what lessons did we learn today?
- Always check your probe thermometer for accuracy before a major holiday.
- Never forget to set your timer.
- Get plenty of sleep the night before you cook a big meal.
- The cat won’t eat shoe leather, even if it is turkey flavored.
- And most importantly……
Even great cooks have bad days.
What’s your fondest kitchen disaster memory?
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