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Jaxk's avatar

Has anyone here ever completely ruined their Thanksgiving turkey dinner?

Asked by Jaxk (15811points) November 27th, 2015

I just threw away a complete turkey. The one we were planning to eat yesterday. Dinner was scheduled for 3pm but by 5pm we were forced to have hot dogs instead.

I have been barbecuing turkey on a rotisserie for the past few years and generally it works quite well. The bird comes out moist and delicious. The biggest problem was always getting it trussed so it doesn’t tear itself apart on the rotisserie. I did a good job getting it trussed and put it on the the barbecue to be ready by 3 but when I checked it, the fire (gas Grille) had gone out. I ran out of gas some time earlier but hadn’t checked it in a couple of hours. I rushed to get a new gas canister connected and cross threaded the connection and the burners wouldn’t go any higher than low flame. In bright daylight it was hard to see the flame so I didn’t realize the problem until late. By that time the turkey had been spinning for more than 8 hours and still wasn’t done. Hot dogs with the family was nice but I doubt I’ll ever live it down. Has anyone else ever had this big a problem with a family dinner and how do you live it down? Make fun of me if you want (everybody else has) but how do I escape this pit of ridicule?

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25 Answers

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Sorry about that, my father always loved to put on huge dinners and once in awhile a dish would get ruined but never the whole meal.

Jeruba's avatar

The only thing to do is laugh it off. But I would never ridicule someone for that. I’d sympathize and say how great that you had the hot dogs on hand.

One year about 12 or 13 years ago, the oven went out while the turkey was roasting, and no one noticed it in all the other activity. Suddenly someone realized that the turkey was still cold and raw while everything else was nearly done. We had no way of knowing how long it had cooked, if at all.

We started the oven again, set everything else aside, had a snack, and chilled. Finally at about 11 p.m. we declared the turkey done, and we went ahead with a full dinner. My sons were in their early-mid teens, and it did them no harm. We figured we were probably the last diners on the U.S. mainland.

Ever since, “check oven” has been on my checklist.

funkdaddy's avatar

A friend fries turkeys and does dozens every holiday now.

In the past, he would let you bring him a turkey and he’d fry it up for you. Someone, who will remain nameless, (ok, it was my wife) took him a frozen marinated turkey.

Accounts on how it happened, and whether he was told it was frozen differ, but the temp gauge was higher than expected, the lid removed, and a pillar of fire caught everyone’s attention.

He doesn’t let anyone bring turkeys any more.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

Families can have tough dynamics. I hate writing this, but you might hear about the Great Turkey Caper for years and years. The story could become part of family canon and get told at all subsequent Thanksgivings.

Many people, ordinarily polite and sensitive, think that relatives are fair game – it’s fine to tease and embarrass a family member, simply because he/she is “one of us.” Even if the taunting is meant to be playful and affectionate, however, it can annoy.

You could mention all the hours you worked on that turkey and the amount of money you spent. But, you may get branded as the person who couldn’t cook a turkey and has no sense of humor.

Sigh…maybe you should spend some quality time with friends. Your friends are the family you get to choose.

funkdaddy's avatar

I don’t know @Jaxk personally, but I’m willing to bet he gives as good as he gets. And maybe even relishes the opportunity.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@SQUEEKY2 The whole dinner wasn’t ruined. Just the turkey. Which they replaced with hotdogs. I’m sure they still had all of the delicious side dishes. Refer to one of the recent vegetarian debates.
.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

That is too bad, H. I feel for you, buddy, especially having to face a bunch of disappointed, hungry people. It’s never happened to me, but a friend of mine, a first-timer who had never even been near a kitchen before, left the plastic bag of organs in the turkey which wasn’t discovered until they began carving it at the table and nobody wouldn’t eat it. I thought that was a bit of an over-reaction when I heard about it. I don’t think the vinyls in the bag would have affected the thighs and legs. I would have given it a taste test before tossing it. But if kids were involved, I guess I would toss it. I really hate wasting food.

I had someone surprise me with a turkey once, not a holiday thing, and I didn’t want spend the whole day cooking it, so I simply carved it up with a cleaver while it was still frozen. There was no room in the refrigerator for a whole, large turkey. I separated the thighs from the legs, the wings, and then cut out the entire breast from the bird, bone and all. I boiled the organs, wings and skeleton till the meat fell off and ran it though a sieve to get the bones out. That was the base for different soups and sauces. While that was cooking away, I defrosted a drumstick in the microwave, seared it in a frying pan, and cooked it in the oven. Minus the defrosting, it took less than an hour. I threw the rest in the freezer for later. In an emergency you can carve the turkey in it’s eight basic pieces before you cook it and it goes a lot faster.

Next this happens to you, take the bird off the grill or spit, let it cool or don gloves, carve it into it’s eight basic parts and cook those parts separately on the grill or in the kitchen. You’ll make up for time lost and still have turkey for dinner. Maybe not the turkey you had in mind, but turkey just the same. The mark of a good cook is to know how to correct their mistakes, the mark of a great cook is to do it so nobody knows there was ever a problem.

There is no reason to ever be overwhelmed by big birds, or big anything for that matter.

Jeruba's avatar

@Love_my_doggie You’re right. I have an uncle who is still repeating something he heard me say when I was two. That’s more than six decades ago. Every single time the family gets together, even for a funeral, he repeats this story. What’s even more annoying is that I didn’t say what he thinks I said. It wasn’t even that funny in the first place, dammit. I was asking for some help, and he heard something else.

When it comes to relentlessness, there’s nothing to top your own family.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, what did your uncle hear you say when you were 2, @Jeruba?

Jeruba's avatar

Damn, I wish you hadn’t asked, but okay, it’s my fault for bringing it up.

I had a stuffy nose, probably from a cold. I’d learned to ask for Vicks, which always helped (and still does). A little dabbed on the outside of my nose and cheeks clears my sinuses better than anything else.

When I asked for it as a new user of speech, I said “Bic-a-nose,” which meant “Vicks on nose.” My mother knew that. My uncle, then a college kid babysitting with me, thought I said “pick” rather than “Bic.” For some reason he still thinks that’s funny 60+ years later.

Sorry, @Jaxk, didn’t mean to derail your thread. I just meant to remind you that families are like that.

Seek's avatar

Man, @Jaxk, that sucks. I’m sure, though, that the pumpkin pie and all the rest was just as good, even without the bird, so you can’t say you ruined the whole meal.

I haven’t ever completely ruined a turkey, but the first one I ever made was terribly overcooked. I vowed that day that I would never serve dry breasts again, and made several other whole roasted turkeys over the next year so I could get the hang of it come next holiday season.

In a fit of complete blonde-moment as a teenager, I doubled the amount of liquid called for in a stuffing recipe and we had bread-soup. My brother still likes to tease me about that. Not that he could cook a meal. He’d starve to death in a supermarket.

Jaxk's avatar

Thanks all for the good stories (I especially like the pillar of fire). @Seek and @Dutchess_III are right, it wasn’t the entire meal. The stuffing and potatos were great as was the macaroni salad, broiled veggies, and pies. Canned gravy, not so much. @funkdaddy apparently, knows me better than he thinks. I suspect most of my relatives will be more relentless than @Jeruba‘s uncle but I’ll weather the storm.

Thanks all for sharing, I feel a little better and less alone.

Coloma's avatar

Why couldn’t you just have popped it the oven for a couple extra hours? Oh well, such is life. haha
I never ruined a dinner but there were many, many years where the tradition of drinking champagne before dinner and the turkey being done, inevitably, always, an hour or two later than planned resulted in all of us being pretty well crocked. Ate dinner and then passed out all over the house. lol

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Jeruba I’m just betting your family just rolls their eyes when he tells that story again. They certainly don’t think less of you, only him.

Jaxk's avatar

@Coloma – I could have easily done that if I had known the burners weren’t working properly. I assumed that once I had the new bottle of propane installed that the cooking would resume. No such luck. It wasn’t until it began to get dark that I could see the burners weren’t working right and my wife had already started the hot dogs. Where’s my whiskey when I need it most?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I drank it @Jaxk. Sry! Hey, it’s just one story out of a million Thanksgivings. One to laugh about next year. And the year after that. And the year aft….

Seek's avatar

After 8+ hours of spinning over no heat, I’d have thrown the turkey away, too. Giving the whole family salmonella is not the best way to get on the “Nice” Christmas list.

Coloma's avatar

@Jaxk Haha, well, you could have driven the Turkey out into the country/woods and tossed it out as charity to the local foxes, coyotes and other critters. A shame to pitch it. It’s not too late, take that turkey for a drive! lol

Dutchess_III's avatar

You….could have donated it to Lucky Guy’s fox ranch! And stole his turkey and taken it home.

Jaxk's avatar

It’s a bit late to take that turkey anywhere. I’ve already pitched a couple of twenties into the trash and trying to salvage something from that is more than I could stand. Best to let the stories end with that rather than extend them to a second chapter. I don’t need PETA showing up on my doorstep asking why I was trying to poison the woodland creatures.

I didn’t know Lucky guy had a fox ranch. Is it a real fox ranch or something like the Mustang Ranch?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Naw, he lives on a bunch of acres and has all kinds of wildlife wandering around. He has a night, motion tripped camera and he posts a lot of them on facebook. It’s really cool! He feeds the foxes and such.

Jaxk's avatar

Sounds great. I always wanted to live in the country but I doubt I’d last long. I like my conveniences to much.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Hot dogs are at least SOMETHING. Money lost on a turkey but no one had to go hungry, no total loss.

Cruiser's avatar

Sorry to hear about your cooking debacle….happens to the best of the best. If I was a betting man I’d say you did this on purpose just so the family buys you a Weber for Christmas!

Jaxk's avatar

If I was going to do it on purpose, it would be in hopes I’d never have to cook another turkey. There are rumblings that way already. Of course it’s very early in the process.

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