I bought this turkey platter with my friend Colleen when I lived on Vancouver Island. Our transfer to Nova Scotia came through and I thought of how Reg and I would be buying a house and have a real home with big holiday dinners… I was so excited.
Now? I can’t wait to get rid of it.
This past Christmas was probably our last in Nova Scotia. My next Christmas will probably be spend cooking in a tiny galley kitchen in an apartment. As a result, I was determined to roast a whole turkey. I even went out and bought an oven-safe thermometer ahead of time. I made a compound butter which I slathered over the fresh grain-fed turkey I got and popped it into the oven.
The turkey was in the oven for more than four hours and the thermometer was barely moving. So I turned to my Facebook friends for help:
I had done everything right. Yet I sensed dread. Horrible dread. Six hours later, this was my turkey:
I took the thermometer out of the leg and put it in the breast. Well over 180C! So maybe I had incorrectly put it in the thigh?
I carved off the breast, started making gravy after putting the turkey on a wooden carving board.
Warning! The following is not for the weak of stomach!
Then I noticed, what I thought were turkey “juices”, all over my counter, creeping up to the apple pie. I know that cooked turkey juices were supposed to run clear. This was not clear. It was bloody.
I quickly moved the turkey to the counter near my sink and removed said “juices” from the other one and disinfected it as best I could. What the fuck was happening? I looked inside the turkey which was empty, I wanted it to cook faster so I left it hollow. It was filled with bloody juices. Then I noticed the bottom of the turkey looked raw. Oh…. my…. God…
Reg came upstairs and I knew that this was not going to be a fair thing to do but I had to share everything, full disclosure as to what I think had happened.
“Reg, half out turkey is cooked and half out turkey is raw.”
“For some reason, the top of the oven worked but the bottom cut out. So the chicken breasts are technically cooked but I can’t promise that they have not been contaminated.”
Reg looked unbelievably uncomfortable. I knew there was nothing he could do but he had to know the situation.
“If we eat this, we could get sick. I think it is fine but there are no guarantees.”
Reg says, “You know I know nothing about this kind of thing.”
“Yes. I know. But I have nothing else to eat, you said you can’t get pizza on Christmas Eve so we can take a chance and eat this and I think we will be fine or…”
Reg was already really sick with a cold. The idea of adding food poisoning onto his cold scared the hell out of me. But I knew the turkey breasts were cooked. I had a feeling we would be OK but I was terrified we would end up in the hospital on Christmas day.
So I made the call. We ate it. And luckily, we were fine. But I do not recommend doing this!!!!
I have no idea what happened to my oven. Why the hell did the bottom element refused to work that day? Maybe it blew a fuse? But it worked fine the next day. All I know is I spent the rest of Christmas Eve fighting with a bloody turkey to break it down. There was blood running down my dishwasher, over the counter, all over my clothes… It was a foodie Amityville horror show.
It was such a big bird that I could only get the breasts and wings off. I was just not strong enough to do anything else. I finally made a family Christmas dinner and it was a disaster, just like so much of my life on the east coast has been.
I decided to slow cook everything I could salvage in my giant slow cooked and it could barely hold the meat I saved. I added some flavourings, covered with water and put it on a low 10 hour cooking mode. If that didn’t make it food-safe, I had no idea what would.
I put the rest of the raw carcass on a board and took it down the stairs to throw into the compost. As I fumbled to go outside, getting covered in more blood-juice, Reg asked if it would attract animals, being out there. I dryly laugh. No bears in this hood and to be honest, I just said to him, “I don’t care” as I went outside. I had to fight with the frozen compost container to get it open and said, “I’m sorry” to the broken raw carcass as it slid into the darkness and hit the bottom with a thud.
The next morning awaited a beautiful turkey stock and we awoke to be food-poisoning-free. I suppose that was our foodie miracle of the year.
I learned a lot from this experience:
- I still obviously care about food after all this time. I would not have been so upset if I didn’t. As a food blogger, that is good to know. (Although I must admit I considered for a brief second deleting my blog since I am obviously such a bonehead in the kitchen.)
- Until I get a new oven, I will never even consider making another turkey and even after that, I may not. A huge animal like that for me and Reg now seems ridiculous to me.
- I should listen to my husband more. Reg had said to me that I should not feel pressured to make a turkey this year because it is just the two of us. He was right, it was a bad idea.
- I am more devastated about losing my kitchen because of our next move than I even realized. I am scared that in a small dark kitchen I won’t be able to food blog anymore and that depresses the hell out of me.
- The last year has been so full of pain, disappointment and fear… It pushed me to the edge of sanity but I learned how to take an awful situation and make soup from it.
And yes, I am totally throwing out that damn turkey platter.
I have always cooked my turkeys long and slow. Overnight has been the norm and they are always perfect.
I hope the coming year is better for you that this last one has been.
Oh and in the oven, not a slow cooker.
Samantha Nottingham says
Don’t let this be the end all for cooking turkeys. It is an interesting thing to do. One year I had our lower element blow as well. Luckily it was close to the end, so we finished cooking the turkey on the BBQ then broiled for browning.
Since then I have got a counter top cooker that works quite well.
Keep blogging and hopefully your new kitchen isn’t too dreadful.
Wanda Thorne says
Suzie!!! It sucks when something doesn’t turn out but when it’s on Christmas day and there is some kind of deep-seated expectation about what it should be like and then things hit the fan… then it’s even worse. I can imagine how you felt. I feel like crap when stuff doesn’t turn out. Please don’t let things get you down. I love reading your stuff. I don’t think that being a food blogger means you can’t screw up. We get these ideas that things are always supposed to be the way they look in a cookbook or on tv. Real life is what you blog about. I love it. Here’s to a brighter 2013 for you!!!
Debra She Who Seeks says
I would take that turkey platter outside, yell OPA!! and smash it on the sidewalk like I was Greek or something. A happy, celebratory Greek! Why not? Have some fun with its destruction!
I’ll always read your foodie blog, Suzie, no matter what the state of your kitchen or photographs are. You can rise to the challenge of your next home, I know you can!
Sorry your turkey didnt turn out the way you wanted. I have made a turkey dinner every Christmas for the past 35 years and each one is different. Some are good ,some not so good. Dont give up trying for the perfect turkey and please dont give up blogging…Your foodie stories and recipes and reviews are the best on the net.
Oh no! I think everyone has a horrible turkey story : )
On Thanksgiving day the heating element went out on my oven too, and I didnt know it until I opened my oven about 2 hours in and realized it was barely warm. I had to cook it an extra two hours and we had dinner at 9:00 pm! For some reason, it must have had a short in it, the lever on the door had to be in just the right position and then it finally heated up and of course we used a thermometer to be sure. You do need to put a thermometer in the breast area I beleive. I hope you keeping blogging, I ‘ve been reading yours since the start, one of my favorites, and learned a lot from you.
I haven’t made a turkey yet but I am scared, next Thanksgiving I will try !
Hello Suzie – I am sorry things went bad with el turkey and glad you got stock out of the ruins for soup and such!
I really, tryuly hope that 2013 turns out brighter for you than it seems. I will continue to follow your journey even if you have to take breaks.
I love your courage (never forget it flags for all of us sometimes!) and I love how you document the good and the bad. Gives hope to people who aren’t perfect but read many blogs where the writer comes off as a saint of creation. 🙂
I hope things get better for you and Reg. Please let us know when things are good and bad.
Jana B says
I just want to hug you right now. I know how hard it is when you work so hard on something, and everything goes to crap because of things you have no control over. I cried with you over this post.
Honestly? I don’t care if you blog from a dark closet, with pictures of your food in braille… I read your foodie blog because YOU are awesome, and learning about new food is a side benefit. I like the fact that your blogs are always real, good and bad combined, which makes me feel better when I have my own moments where my food goes in the trash.
Suzie Ridler says
You are all so amazing, I don’t know what I would do without you. I am glad that my honesty and sharing the dark foodie days help and your support helps me keep going. I think I will get rid of the platter because of future downsizing but now I am just going to think of it as a positive thing for someone else’s kitchen, someone who has a big family to feed. Thank you all again, you all rock! And Debra, I love the Opa idea and was totally tempted, LOL.
Somehow, I missed this whole post at the time, though I had commented the day “it” happened. I’m so glad you have persevered, Suzie. I love learning vicariously through you! You’ll do fine as a foodie blogger, no matter what your next kitchen is like. 🙂