Our first Thanksgiving away from extended family the turkey didn't thaw according to instructions. Not noticing the total lack of pliability, we put it in oven as instructed (not removing any of the extra parts inside the bird). After a long day of cooking, we found a mushy disaster. We tipped the content of the roasting pan into the garbage and high-tailed it to the only local grocery store still open for pre-cooked ham.
The year before Ranger was born Jim and I spent weeks planning an elaborate menu that was Martha Stewart in its vision. We even included individual compote-stuffed acorn squash for each guest.
Our guests arrived hours early, just in time to be here when the oven caught fire. We ate each dish sequentially (as they now had to be heated in our tiny, EasyBake wattage microwave) in the slightly smoky dining room. Needless to say no guest present has ever suggested us hosting Thanksgiving again.
When Jennie-O contacted me that they had an idiot-proof turkey available, I wondered how far our reputation as destroyers of Thanksgiving had traveled. Their miracle turkey could go straight from freezer to oven without cleaning, thawing, marinating, or prepping for roasting.
Our Jennie-O Oven Ready Turkey came boneless, skinless, and frozen. We removed the exterior bag to find the turkey in a roasting bag. We placed the roasting bag in an ovenproof dish and cut 3 small slits in the bag.
The turkey then went in the preheated oven for about 2 hours, emerging as an easy and flavorful dinner. The pop-up timer signaled the end of cooking (and popped around the same time our meat thermometer hit the recommended inner temp of 170 degrees). The thermometer was much easier to use in the Jennie-O Oven Ready turkey breast than in a conventional bird (where you need to avoid the bone). [Video of cooking instructions]
When we cut off the roasting bag, there was enough juice to make a homemade gravy, but it wasn't necessary. Jennie-O includes a packet of gravy mix (add water and heat on the stove). We should have started the gravy before the turkey came out of the oven, but we did not. Instead, driven by the savory scent of turkey, we microwaved the mix.
The turkey was surprisingly juicy and tender. The seasoning was mild, but delicious. Jennie-O's Oven-Ready Turkey was our first successful turkey. These fool-proof gobblers could save future holidays here, and the boneless turkey breast makes a hearty weeknight dinner.
Jennie-O Oven Ready Turkeys can be found year-round at Safeway (Dominicks, Genuardi’s, Vons), Jewel, Super Wal-Marts, Ralph's, King Sooper, Acme, Schnucks, HEB, Meijer, Winn Dixie, Publix, Hy-Vee, Super Target, Fry's, Von's, and some Kroger and Super-Valu Divisions. A 12 lb. whole turkey costs $28, a 5 lb. bone-in breast costs $17, and the 2.75 lb. boneless breast retails for around $13.
Jennie-O turkeys can be ordered online, but their heavy shipping weights and need for expedited shipping translate into considerably higher costs.
Even if you're an expert poultry chef, you can enter Jennie-O's Trauma or Triumph Sweepstakes to win a month of free groceries from Amazon, an iPod nano, a camcorder, and Netflix or iTunes gift cards.
What holiday cooking disasters have you experienced?