Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What happens when a vegetarian cooks a turkey?

Oh yes.  I did try and cook a turkey.  Once.  Never again.

First year of medical school - some group asked for volunteers to cook whole turkeys, then carve them, package up the meat, and donate to some local soup kitchens.  While I didn't eat meat, I thought "sure, I can do that."  The flyer said that all supplies would be included.  And that the turkeys would be somewhere between 15-20 lbs.

Um.  I knew nothing about cooking a turkey.  Or how long a bird of that size would take to cook.  I showed up to get my bird on Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  The thing was enormous - I think it ended up being 22 or 23 lbs.  FROZEN.  And this was about 16 hours before I needed to have the whole thing cooked.  The turkey came in a tin foil tray.  Needless to say, 22 lb turkeys don't carry well in a tin foil tray. I tried to walk the two blocks home.  But the streets were all closed off because "The Wire" was filming.  The crew laughed at me as I now had to walk 5 blocks with a giant turkey balanced in a tin foil tray.

Now how to go about cooking a frozen turkey in 16 hours.  Let's just say - it wasn't pretty.  There was no time for thawing on the counter.  I turned the oven on low and tried to thaw it that way.  Got part of it thawed but then knew I was going to run out of time.  So cooked the darn thing frozen.  4 hrs, 6 hrs, 8 hrs. That thing wasn't cooked (it had a pop up button).  I went to bed, set my alarm, kept checking.  At 2 am, I pulled it out to look.  And by then the tin foil had enough - it tore and about a gallon of turkey grease poured onto me, the floor, and just about everywhere you can imagine.  Not a happy camper.  2 hours later I finally gave up and pulled the turkey out - darn button never really popped out.

How does a sleep deprived medical student carve a turkey?  I had no idea, had no good knives to do so.  But I used some random kitchen knife and dissected it.  And identified the names of the muscles as I did so.  And found out that the directions hadn't said anything about a neck or a bag of gizzards inside the turkey.  Shoved all the meat in some baggies.  Prayed that no homeless people died because of half cooked donated turkey.

And that is why a vegetarian should never cook a turkey.

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