The story of my terrible Thanksgiving dinner.

by admin on June 25, 2015

Okay so I have to tell you a story. I never tell this story to anyone. This happened the Thanksgiving of my Sophomore year in high school. Keep in mind this was right around the time I started seriously dating this one girl and got really interested in finding every way I could to impress her on dates and such.

So I tried learning how to dance, how to play volleyball (she was into that) and even tried the guitar, which was a terrible flop. Then I realized something. I'm just about as coordinated as a Magikarp out of water. There was really only one thing that I could well that would impress her, and that was cooking.

Alright, I know what you're thinking, I am well aware that I was nothing special at the age of sixteen, but I didn't care and the thing is–neither did she. She didn't notice my flaws because she didn't know anything about cooking either. Which was great because I could make something really REALLY easy and she would totally think it was the fanciest thing ever. So I start watching cooking shows, cooking youtube videos, start reading some cooking blogs, learned a lot of new words, and thought I was really something. Everywhere I went though, I kept hearing about this dish that would surely impress everyone, and it was praised as the holy grail of cooking. If you could pull off this meal, you were a cooking god. I had to try it. I had to cook the most magnificent… Turducken!

You've heard of a Turducken before, you know, a Turkey stuffed with a duck inside of it that's also stuffed with a small chicken. The Turducken. Funny, I'll never hear that word without shuddering again. So it was getting to be about October when I decided I was really gonna do, and do it big, as a Thanksgiving feast, I, the TEENAGE BOY, would cook the grand bird of the day, the main event. And because a Turducken involves a LOT of meat, and because I was cocky and wanted to impress everyone, I started bragging about it on facebook how I was going to do it, and invited my girlfriend and her entire family over to share this meal with us. Yes, her ENTIRE family at my house, no pressure, having Thanksgiving dinner at MY HOUSE where I was cooking the MAIN MEAL. Now remember I had never so much as roasted a chicken before doing this. I had never cooked any kind of bird that still had bones inside of it. But to my great excitement, and eventual shame, my mom decided to let me cook the birds, and my girlfriend's family all came over to share it with us, including two cousins and a grandma! How had I let this happen without realizing what an idiot I was?

Well eventually the big day came around and I was excited as heck to get this going. I had a recipe picked out from some website for months and I had all the ingredients laid out for me to use. The birds were in the freezer and they were quite expensive I might add. But at this point there was no turning back. I was loud about it enough already. Everyone was expecting a Turducken. It wasn't until Thanksgiving morning that I started to feel a little nervous about the whole deal. What if it didn't turn out perfectly? I dismissed those thoughts, comforting myself by thinking of all the times I made delicious spaghetti, or omelets. So I get out the birds, which were completely frozen SOLID and looked at the recipe to see how I was supposed to thaw the dang things, or if I should just cook them frozen. Bear with me now. I look at the recipe and surprise surprise I was supposed to thaw them overnight. OVERNIGHT?!?!? CRAP! But Thanksgiving dinner was scheduled for 5 o'clock and it was already 10am. I started crunching numbers in my head. How would I get this to work?

I started sweating. I started panicking. My girlfriend started texting me asking how it was going and I just texting her back saying some bull crap like "it's going to be amazing" and "I hope you're ready to be blown away." If I acted confident enough, something would work out, right? Unfortunately that didn't help me feel any better. I decided the best thing I could do was set the oven to like 200 degrees and that them quickly for a couple hours and then cook them. So I tried that, and after about an hour and a half, when I checked on them, still frozen solid. They were all laying in the oven together, crowded, frozen birds, side-by-side. Crap crap crap it's almost 12 noon and I'm still working with frozen birds. They're supposed to cook for hours and I'm running out of time. So I turn up the oven to about 400 degrees and start shaking with fear. After about 45 minutes of that, I checked on the birds and they were finally not frozen solid anymore! But they had thawed unevenly and there were some spots that were already starting to cook and some parts that still had frost on them. I quickly pulled them all out and noticed how they kind of had a rubbery consistency.

Well I decided to follow the recipe as closely as I could, stuffing them and seasoning them, and placing them carefully in a pan with my garlic and potatoes and stuffing. At this point I got really optimistic because it smelled really reeeealllyyyy good. No one would even know that I didn't thaw them correctly. It would all just cook evenly in the oven. But it was 1:30 and I needed more time than I had. My girlfriend's family had to go visit her other grandparents who lived about 20 minutes away and couldn't come because of being kind of house-ridden. So I couldn't ask them to come later or they would not have time to visit. So I was really rushed.

I decided I would kick up the temperature of the oven a good 75 degrees hotter than I was supposed to and cook the birds on a quick kind of schedule. I know. I know. Well, needless to say, when I finally pulled the Turducken out of the oven, I was scared half to death. And then I saw the Turkey on the outside. It was completely… black. Oh my gosh it looked bad. Had a weird smell, too. Like sweet spices and delicious poultry mixed with burnt grease and char. Really pungent, too. I died a little inside. The worst part was, when I stuck a fork inside to test how juicy the meat was, the fork got stuck inside the breast. Yes STUCK inside the Turkey meat. It was awful. I had to use both hands to pull it out. The Turkey was completely dried out. It wasn't salvageable at that point. I wanted to cry but I had about 20 minutes before the girlfriend's family was to arrive.

My heart sunk in despair as I decided I had to rip apart the Turkey to see what was inside. So I slowly began peeling bits and pieces of dried, burnt Turkey meat from off this duck that was inside, when I noticed that I actually WAS crying. I didn't notice when I started crying, because I felt like crying ever since I read that I was supposed to thaw these stupid things overnight. So there I was, on Thanksgiving day, ripping apart an entire Turkey, which we wouldn't even be able to eat. Thanksgiving without a Turkey. After all the bragging I was doing, I wanted to crawl under a rock. I almost seriously considered breaking up with my girlfriend over the phone right then and there to avoid having her come over, but I figured that would be a terrible move and her family would hate me forever, and I didn't want her to be gone forever.

Luckily, I discovered that the duck inside was cooked to perfection. Seriously, it was the juiciest, most tender bird I had ever seen, and miraculously cooked perfectly evenly. The chicken inside was just as perfect. It was a miracle alright, because I at least had something to serve, but it wasn't a Turducken, and it wasn't even Turkey at all. Then the guests started coming in and everyone acted all sorts of quiet and awkward when we gathered round the table and they all noticed that thing that was sitting in the middle. All because of a stupid dried up Turkey, with no moisture at all.

So that's the story of how, one Thanksgiving, years ago, I embarrassed myself completely by bragging to everyone about my cooking skills and serving them, FOR LACK OF A WETTER BIRD, Ducken.

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