On Sunday, I attempted to make Cooking Light's Classic Roast Turkey and Giblet Gravy because every cook, and every mom for that matter, should know how to make a good turkey dinner. Someday, I hope that I will host our own Thanksgiving meal, so I'd better start practicing now if I want to achieve that grandma finesse.
My experience was definitely a testament to doing too much and going too fast. The recipe wanted me to make the homemade turkey broth a day in advance. But Saturday was so quickly swallowed by dishes of past (made this the night before) and present and other household novelties, that I postponed until Sunday morning. At 8:30 a.m. I hoisted the turkey from the fridge to the sink, unwrapped it, wrestled the turkey neck from the bird's cavity (still a bit frozen) and yanked out a plastic packet of what I thought was premixed gravy (label said something about gravy). So, I tossed the packet, only to realize later that it contained the all important giblets, and threw the neck alone into a big stainless steel pot with hot oil. I was supposed to brown this for 15 minutes. The sputtering and spattering commenced as I held my baby girl on one hip and was soon distracted by her coos and arm flails and shrieks. Before long, we were both sitting in front of the computer staring at facebook when the smell of smoke started to tug at our noses. After only 8 minutes, I had completely charred the turkey neck. I put down the baby and took the pot onto the porch. Grabbed a towel and started waving it like a flag around the fire alarm. Thus the failure of step number 1.
I moved on. I had some chicken broth that I thought I could sub in for the homemade turkey broth. At this point, my husband Brandon and I decided it would be a good idea to go into town, get cappuccinos at Starbucks, and drop off some clothes at Good Will. It would be good to get out of the house, right? After a harried trip that turned out to be quite a bad idea (when will we learn not to take the baby ANYWHERE?!) with no cappuccinos whatsoever, I returned to my still smokey kitchen, exhausted, and feeling as though I was trying to do everything with one hand tied behind my back.
But then I delved into the real cooking. I had a blast chopping up the herbs and learning how to pin those pointy turkey wingtips behind the bird's back. I took fingerfuls of the herb-butter mixture and stuffed it underneath the skin. Cooking gets fun when you get your hands dirty. There's something elemental about shoving your hands underneath turkey skin and jamming in the shrubby herbs.
I thought my creation really was glorious slathered with butter and situated securely in my never-before-used giant roasting pan. I placed it in the oven and went back to baby watching...
When the turkey started to become golden, Rosie and I watched it through the oven door. She slapped her fat baby hands on the warm oven window and bounced like she does when she's happy. Brandon said it was starting to smell really good. Though we have many reasons not to call the apartment we're in our home quite yet, at that moment, everything fit together like magic. I knew right then that someday I'd look back on roasting that turkey and miss the feeling of home just coming together.
In the end, it turned out pretty well--even the gravy. I think I still have a long way to go before roasting the perfect classic, moist turkey, but this one still had its charm.