Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

In honor of turkey day, here are a few tips on roasting that bird:

1. Time-saving tip: combine dinner and hors d'oevres -

One of the more unusual questions handled by Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line (which the company has operated since 1981) comes from those who have mistaken a well-traveled joke for an actual recipe: They call to ask if they can pop popcorn in the turkey's cavity during the roasting process. (The joke's punch line is: "You know the turkey is done when the popcorn pops and blows the rear off the bird.") And no, you can't.

2. Creative stuffing ideas:

Then there was the young mother who failed to notice her children playing near the oven-ready bird. The kids decided the turkey's cavity was a good place to park toy cars. Their mom didn't discover Ol' Tom was doubling as a garage until after the turkey had been roasted.

Butterball turkey experts still talk about the Kentucky woman who called in 1993 to ask how to get her dog out of her turkey. It seems the woman's Chihuahua had dived into the bird's cavity and become trapped there. The woman tried pulling the pooch and shaking the bird, all to no avail. A Butterball economist finally suggested the woman carefully cut the opening in the turkey wider to release the captive canine.

3. Cleanliness is next to impossible:

Another confused cook called the Butterball line after cleaning her turkey because she wanted to know how to get the metal pieces out. "Apparently," said one of the Butterball economists, "she had scrubbed her bird with a steel scouring pad." A West Coast woman who had taken anti-bacterial precautions too far called Butterball to find out how to get the bleach she'd used off her bird.

4. On saving energy, it's hard to beat the call from a trucker who planned to cook his Thanksgiving turkey on the engine of his truck ("Will it cook faster if I drive faster?"):

The Reynolds Wrap Turkey Tips Line (800-745-4000) took a query from a woman who wanted to know if she could cook her turkey by placing it in a Reynolds Oven Bag, putting it in the window in the back of her car, and letting the heat from the sun bake the turkey. (She was told that would be an uncontrolled heat source and was instructed to use an oven instead.)

The folks at Butterball have also dealt with cooks determined to roast turkeys on the back ledges of their cars. And they've had people call to ask if they could cook their holiday birds on radiators. Then there was the bride who had a small, apartment-size range and was worried the turkey would get larger as it cooked (similar to a loaf of bread rising) — she was fretting she wouldn't be able to get it out of the oven after it was done.

5. Be sure to cook it long enough:

There are those whose problems are not how to get the turkey out of the oven, but when. Said Nancy Rodriguez, coordinator of the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line in 1985, "One lady in Arkansas had her five-pound turkey in the oven 24 hours — did we think it was done? Another caller wanted to know the best method for reattaching the thighs and drumsticks when they fall off. His 12-pound turkey had been in the oven since 8 a.m. the day before."

The self-cleaning option offered on a number of ranges has caused its share of Thanksgiving troubles when confused cooks have inadvertently started its cycle while their birds were in the oven. Others have different range-related questions, such as: "Your directions say to roast the turkey, but my oven says only bake or broil; how do I set it?"

6. And finally, if you're from Virginia, you may need "extra help":

* Taking turkey preparation an extra step, a Virginian wondered, "How do you thaw a fresh turkey?" The Talk-Line staffer explained that fresh turkeys aren't
frozen and don't need to be thawed.


At 4:50 PM, Anonymous Cricket said...

Don't leave us hanging Cass! What happened to the Cheehooahhooah and the cars? We are waiting with baited breath.

Making onion soup, salad and salami sandwiches here. Have to clean out the fridge sometime!

Happy Thanksgiving!

At 1:01 AM, Blogger spd rdr said...

And if you are from Georgia...
Ah, nevermind.
Happy Thanksgiving all.

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Hello Cassandra! Thanks for the comment on my blog. I've posted a public reply because I thought that you raised some important issues.

Thanks again,


At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Cricket said...


Just plain heh.

do tell, spd.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger JarheadDad said...

Please, leave all deep frying and injections of Cajun seasoning to the professionals! :-o

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Cassandra said...

I should make my Thanksgiving squash casserole for you JHD - it's always a big hit. We had a big family dinner too this year with all sorts of interesting contributions. I always have to have one or two spicy or different things or I get bored - this year in addition to my staple casserole (which provides the hot and spicy) I tried a new cranberry/pear chutney that was really good. Normally I'm not wild about chutney, but the basic recipe looked wonderful - I fiddled with it just a bit and it turned out really great.

Now I'm looking at recipes for Christmas dinner.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Cassandra said...

We usually have either Northern Italian fare or seafood for Christmas eve - I'm thinking of making gumbo this year. Haven't had it for ages but I have a wicked craving for it, since you mention cajun. Now I'm hungry!

At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Cricket said...

Tips on roasting the bird, but no tips on flipping it?


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