Wednesday, April 20, 2011
What happens when a vegetarian cooks a turkey?
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.