I have to state for the record that I had barely started cooking at this point and really didn’t have a clue what I was up to! Despite good, clear instructions from my lovely Mum! Anyway…I should tell the story first so you know what I’m actually talking about.
I lived in New York for a few years and subsequently spent a few Christmases away from home. Not my most memorable but I will say they weren’t completely miserable, with the exception of one. And even that wasn’t completely miserable but it was pretty damn close. I was living with 3 sisters, one of whom is one of my closest friends from secondary school. I loved living with the girls; Owl, Woolie, Minnie and me (Crabby – obviously no reflection on my happy go lucky demeanour! 🙂 ). Our two bed apartment in Queens was a temple of femininity and giggles (and our fair share of frustrations and all that). The girls were all living in the US with green cards. I, however, was not and didn’t have the flexibility to travel home for Christmas. My family at home decided that they didn’t want me to be alone this particular year and much to my protest, elected to send my brother John over to me for two weeks (whether he wanted to or not, I should add). John’s about 18 months older than me and at that stage, was pretty much in his own world of alcohol and rage and being in New York for Christmas was not on his bucket list. Anyhoooooo, we made it to Christmas day in one piece, more or less… and by the luck of the Gods, we made it out the other side!! 😀 We were joined by another guy, a friend of the girls, Joe Woolhead, who was on his own for Christmas too.
I had a plan…kind of…in my head… a loose string of things to be done in a semblance of order. It just ran a little late in the beginning. Which is where the problem lay. I took my rock solid frozen turkey out of the freezer around midday on Christmas eve thinking in grand Irish style ‘Ah sure, It’ll be grand!’. I had never cooked a turkey before, fresh or defrosted so this was new ground altogether. Christmas morning, John and I opened our presents – both of us wishing we were somewhere else. I entered the kitchen and prepared my turkey…plopped it into the roasting tin on a base of carrots, onions and celery and seasoned it – covered it in tinfoil and into the oven. I tried to make my Mam’s stuffing and it was just like it, that is if my Mam’s stuffing is dry, sawdust like with no flavour!! My roast potatoes weren’t actually that bad, thanks be to Jaysus!! And my carrots and parsnips were grand, nothing to write home about! Joe arrived with his packet of biscuits and we watched some telly while the turkey finished cooking.
And so after hours and hours of cooking, then resting, it was time to unveil my bird and expose her succulent thighs! Well, I was excited and the lads were starving so I got to work. I carved the first slice off the breast and thought to myself ‘Well done Crabby! This doesn’t look too bad’ It smelled lovely too. I went in for the second…thinking Hmmmm that looks ok… then the third and my stomach lurched. My heart started beating rapidly…I couldn’t actually carve the third slice all that easily and I could plainly see that it was still frozen!!! Holy F*CK!!! ‘Alright in there Incey??’ called John from the sitting room (my family nickname). I gulped and croaked in reply ‘Yeah…Grand… two minutes and you’ll be feasting like Kings!!’ Straight away, I thought to myself…What the hell am I talking about???
So… I did what any sane person would do – I carved the outer layer off the turkey (a.k.a. the cooked layer) and served that to John and Joe. Covering it with gravy, stuffing and all the rest of the stuff. I covered the turkey up with the tinfoil again and I shoved it back in the oven so I didn’t have to look at it. I didn’t actually have any turkey…just the rest of the stuff! I mean the legs hadn’t even cooked through – it was salmonella or some sort of e-coli poisoning just begging to happen. So I sat there and sweated through dinner and dessert but thankfully no-one passed out or abruptly had to visit the loo! By the skin of my teeth, all remained well with the world.
Since then, I have learned to cook… properly… and safely. I swear! 😀