February 23, 2024

Here’s hoping all you United Statesens had a wonderful, warm, and memorable Thanksgiving Day yesterday.

After everyone left and before I went to bed, all alone, I finished one of the brought bottles of delicious red wine and watched the first half of that action-packed-yet-sad Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans NFL football game. But that ended the evening well, having “The Grand Even” behind me, a disaster area in the kitchen with piles of plates, stuffing scattered around the floor, and me drinking wine while watching my beloved football in total peace. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh……        🙂        (insert HEAVY sigh of relief here…..)

See group photo below of the three of us whom are NOT afraid to have our photos on the internet:

Left to right: MadridMan, steve robinson, and replay (Rafa)

The stuffing I made early in the afternoon – which I mentioned in my previous post above – ended up in the trash        🙁        because I forgot to first saute the onion and celery chunks. And yet I didn’t realize this until AFTER I stuffed it in the bird and put it in the oven. That was okay but we weren’t about to eat the leftover raw-onion-and-celery stuffing (at least I wasn’t). (sorry, Esperanza!!!) It’s a true shame too because the stuffing itself looked so delicious. I considered picking out the pieces of onion and celery but had neither the time nor the patience to take on that task with so many other things going on. Luckily, I’d bought two back-up boxes of the stuff(ing) at The American Store and made that. It turned out okay but wasn’t as pretty. hehehe….

The pre-meal salad plate for guests went over very well with little pickles, black olives, anchovy-stuffed green olives, and cherry tomatoes. I’d spent 45 minutes earlier in the day peeling and quartering carrots for said salad plate – but forgot them in the refrigerator.

As guests came they would kindly say upon entering the house, “Mmmm.. Something smells good!” Of course, what they were really smelling was the smoke billowing from the kitchen’s oven!        😮        Throughout the “social-hour”, they’d poke their heads in the kitchen while I was preparing the corn-on-the-cob or the green-beans-with-mushroom-soup to chat and look through the oven-glass to the turkey. From time to time we’d ALL have to leave the kitchen because THE SMOKE was just too bad. I began worrying a concerned neighbor might call the fire department.

About the Turkey…

I’d spent nearly an hour preparing the freshly slaughtered turkey, thinking it’d only take 20 minutes. First, NOT ALL of the turkey’s feathers were pulled out so I plucked those remaining. Then I washed the turkey in the sink, inside and out according to instructions, patted it dry throughout with paper towels. Then I applied olive oil first, then salt, pepper, and parsley. Good. The oven was preheated to 350ºF for the previous 45 minutes and ready to go.

The turkey was put into the SPECIAL turkey cooking bag, made the recommended 6, 2-inch slots into the plastic, and it all went into the oven at 6:30pm. I was starting to get a little nervous, knowing it would take at least 3 hours to cook and 20 minutes to cool, and my guests were told we’d dine at 9pm. This wasn’t going to all come together perfectly…

As mentioned above, about an hour into cooking the 12-pound turkey (7:30pm) the smoke was filling the kitchen. Because I was beginning to doubt the EDIBILITY of the thing, I sent one of the guests to buy a couple roasted chickens. JUST IN CASE.

By 8:15pm, having already lowered the temperature twice, I turned off the oven – AFTER ONLY 1 hour and 45 minutes cooking time. “There’s NO WAY we’re going to be able to eat this thing.” It’s going to be burned on the outside and raw on the inside!!

First, this so-called magical cooking bag, something which was supposed to retain the turkey’s moistness, wrapped itself around the bird like a condom throughout the baking process, and eventually, literally became its second skin – with 5th degree burns!

Thank goodness we had these roasted chickens as backup…

I took out the turkey, ready to toss it directly into the garbage in disgust but one of my female guests stopped me with her very kind and encouraging, “No! No! It doesn’t look so bad! I’m sure it’s delicious! We can save a lot of it, just look! Really!” This is when she took over.

Surprisingly, after cutting away the half-inch of charred plastic and flesh, revealed was some very edible-looking breast meat! Voila! We have our Thanksgiving Day Turkey!! The guest was able to cut away enough meat to almost fill one large plate, just enough for the 7 of us to try a little.

¡ALAAAA!” was the cheer by the 5 seated Spanish guests (and one English guest) upon my entering the dining/living room with plate of turkey slices – NOT the entire turkey. Of course I had this typical image of entering with this beautiful big, brown, garnished turkey and laying it in the center of the table for everyone to admire. BUT…it didn’t happen like that. They’d already gotten a glimpse of the charred body in the kitchen and no one had any grand expectations.

So we salvaged some turkey. Everyone tried the strange looking (to them) turkey gravy and liked it. I decided not to make the mashed potatoes afterall because it was just too much work and too many side dishes, people liked the green beans and mushroom soup. The stuffing went mainly untouched. The corn-on-the-cop raised much discussion by the Spaniards, saying it looked a lot like “the food the pigs eat”. I’d FORGOTTEN the cranberry sauce in the refrigerator. But everyone LOVED the pumpkin pie. In an earlier post I’d mentioned I burned the no-bake graham cracker crust of two pies, which I did, but I scooped out the good middle and spread it all into a third “reserve” no-bake pie shell and served it like that. A big hit! We finished the meal off at about 11:30pm with glasses of Crema de Orujo liqueur.

The evening was wonderful, filled with Spanish political and religious debate, a little about Barack Obama’s Presidential election, and general discussion. As an afterthought, I should’ve told my guests more about Thanksgiving, what it was, and what it stood for but I was just too overwhelmed with everything, I guess.

In total, we were 2 Spanish males (including message board member replay), 3 Spanish females, 1 Englishman (message board member steve robinson), and me, the only Americano.

MORE ON THE COOKING BAG: I followed the instructions perfectly. REALLY, I DID. My Spanish female guests kindly suggested the plastic bag burned because the oven was too small, the turkey was too close to the heating element, and that the oven may not have had a self-regulating-temperature (whatever that means – don’t they all self-regulate?). Initially they said, “Well, why did you use a plastic bag of all things? That’s VERY strange!” So I had to explain to them that it was “A new thing.” They just shook their heads in disbelief.

So my FIRST attempted Thanksgiving Day Feast was a semi-success. But at least we all had a good time and were together. Afterall, THAT’s what’s most important.  🙂

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4 thoughts on “Homemade Thanksgiving Feast: A Semi-Success

  1. Being Canadian I find having Thanksgiving so close to Christmas to be kind of weird. Canadian Thanksgiving is the second Monday of October.
    And if your really desperate for a more traditional Thanksgiving our church is hosting a tradational Thanksgiving dinner church potluck this Sunday. The wife is making her famous and very fattening scallop potatoes. So consider yourself invited
    Rob in Madrid (formally tim hortons man)
    info here Thanksgiving Dinner

  2. Oh, man—I sympathize with you on the turkey fiasco. Hmmm…I really don’t understand why the bags didn’t work. It always worked so well for me back in the US. Maybe the ladies were right about the oven being small and thus burning the bags. I am assuming your oven is not the typical American size? You must have been frantic! I am glad everything turned out OK in the end.

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