Friday, November 26, 2010

lubing the holiday buzzard

Well, it was that time of year again.  Thanksgiving.  Only I wasn't giving thanks at the moment.  It was about 8PM and I was up alone with two wide awake five year olds, courtesy of a late nap for them and no nap for Steve, who bailed on me and left me alone to deal with the buzzard and the twins.

I was up for it though.  I'd had a nap and was feeling pretty spunky.  I had potatoes cooking for potato salad, and sweet potatoes baking for the casserole I planned to make.  I was in charge of those two sides, plus the dressing.  And the buzzard.

The buzzard this year weighed almost as much as I did.  Or felt like it when I hoisted him out of his plastic packing.  I dug the neck out of his gut, or where his gut had been, and after a quick body patdown I discovered the giblets, in the butt cavity (I know how TSA feels now).  Why do they pack the giblets in that little butt cavity, when they have that big old gut with just a neck stuck in it?  I had the roaster we had given Ma years earlier lined up to slam his butt in.  I washed and patted him dry with paper towels, and salted him, which actually felt kind of invasive in a weird bird body sort of way.  I had been watching the food network and knew that the best chefs rubbed huge amounts of butter on their turkeys to make them all nice and crispy-skinned and moist.  They added a lot of herbs too, but I wasn't brave enough to step outside the family tradition and turn our buzzard into an Italian or Greek buzzard, so I stuck with grabbing a stick of butter to rub on it.  Only it wasn't really a stick, it was the end of a stick, about a two inch long piece of butter.


the buzzard, prelube
 Now two things happened when I began lubing this bird (you really can't call what I was doing anything nicer than that, for reasons I will explain in a minute).  The first thing that happened is that the butter wouldn't rub on.  I realized then that the butter was supposed to be room temperature, not straight from the fridge.  So it kind of made the buzzard cringe, because all those little speed bumps on the bird stood up straight.  I could tell the bird was not enjoying this at all and to tell the truth I was kind of grossed out by it too, so I pondered what to do next.  And it hit me...I picked up the lump of cold butter, and held it in my fist until it softened up.  Then I slapped the butter back on the bird and the fun began.

I started rubbing it all over, and after a couple minutes I was really getting into it...about another ten minutes and I began to feel that maybe I had passed the boundaries of acceptable buzzard rubbing.  I was beginning to break into a kinky kind of sweat too, so I forced myself to stop (buzzardus interruptus?).  I picked it up to put it in the pan and realized my mistake...

I couldn't pick it up.  It kept sliding out of my fingers.  The kids were in the living room watching their third Christmas movie in a row, and I was thankful that they weren't witnessing the grotesque dance I was doing with the bird in the kitchen, trying to lift it up and get it in that roaster.  I was a determined woman and after a few moves that would have made Fred Astaire proud, I finally body slammed the buzzard into some aluminum foil and then into the roaster. 


look ma no knobs!
 The roaster was placed on the heater in the dining room (the only place I had room enough to put it, and Steve's suggestion).  Then I realized that the only way to plug it in was to turn the roaster so that the thermostat was facing the wall.  Which meant I had to find a flashlight so I could see behind the roaster and feel my way to 250 or 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  I managed that, and after I lugged the buzzard and put it in the roaster, I went to sit with the kids and try to catch my breath.  I was breathing pretty heavily by then and covered in a fine sheen of what looked like sweat but which was really leftover butter.  I didn't realize two inches off a stick of butter would lube a buzzard and me too.

I sat for a while and then finally after finishing up the other things I was cooking, I sent Dunc off to bed with his Gramps and Maddie and I headed for bed.

About 3 or 4 AM I woke up in a cold sweat as I realized two things. 

I had accidentally popped out the pop out button that tells you when the turkey is done.  And I had forgotten to figure out how many hours the bird would need to cook at the temp I had set (I still wasn't even sure what temperature I had set anyway, since I did it backward and in the dark).  I knew by then it was too late to do anything about it, so I drifted back to sleep, but had fitful dreams in my half waking state of food poisoning and a family trip to the ER the next day after dinner.  (We could always eat grilled cheese sandwiches if the buzzard was a flop my sleepy mind reasoned.)

The next day, the pop out button was popped out (no surprise), but the turkey was done, and my buzzard was devoured with relish, with no signs of food poisoning.  In fact, my karma must be turning, because this was probably the best holiday meal I have ever cooked, and that statement was made by the family without any bribery from me.

But I am still trying to get the butter off of me and out of my hair.  Dang buzzard.
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