Remembering The Thanksgiving My Turkey Exploded


On a Thanksgiving morning in upstate New York when my children were about the ages of 9 & 7, my first wife was not feeling well and I was put in charge of Thanksgiving dinner. I had never before cooked that many dishes at one time, but undaunted, I approached the kitchen with a joyous heart because I was sure of one fact; this year there would be plenty of my family’s stuffing. For me, it’s all about the stuffing; all else are minor second acts. If the stuffing and gravy are right, the meal will be a success. I had two loaves of day old bread, and although I think I remembered we only traditionally used one loaf, it made sense that two loaves would be twice as delicious. Offspring’s of simple heritage, the family recipe was very basic and copied in many commercial places. Throw the giblets in water and boil; chop the onion and the celery; mix with butter, salt and pepper; pull the bread into bite-sized chunks and mix altogether. The trick was not to put in too much giblet water because the bird’s natural juices would also seep into the stuffing, and you wouldn’t want the texture to be too wet. After making a huge amount of stuffing, it was time to commence with actually stuffing the stuffing into the turkey. Every year we named our turkey and we always gave thanks to the bird for allowing us to have a great family meal. For this purpose, I will name him “Harry” because I am sure there was a Harry somewhere along the line. It was time for Harry and I to get better acquainted. And so the stuffing began…and continued…and continued…and continued. By the time I put the last scoop into the now overflowing cavity, Harry was a much bigger bird than when I started. So in the oven he goes as I begin to get the rest of the meal organized. After the first hour or so, the kitchen is smelling like Thanksgiving and all is going well, and I mentally asked myself…”so how do I know when Harry is finished?” Remember this is a time before pop-up thermometers. As it turned out, I didn’t have to worry. Harry let me know when it was time. The family was sitting in the living room when we all heard a muffled explosion from the kitchen. We looked around to see where it came from but nothing. Then, I’m not sure why, we looked into the oven, and couldn’t believe our eyes. Harry had exploded…really exploded…     de-boned exploded! “Is Harry supposed to be so flat?”, my son asked. “Dad, what happened?” quizzed my daughter. “It’s just another way to cook a turkey…let’s eat” I turned the oven off, and took the roasting pan out and “scooped” reconstructed Harry onto a large platter. No carving knife needed. The mixture was more caserole-like in style, but somehow tasted just like it was supposed to. And I had extra stuffing for a week. So this year, if your turkey accidentally explodes, not to worry. Serving time will be reduced and there’s no need to carve. Relax and enjoy the meal…bon appetit and Happy Thanksgiving.

{Author’s Note: This blog originally appeared in November, 2011; it is now my annual Thanksgiving blog.]


About Alan G Billingsley

My career has been varied, including time as a newspaper deliverer, lifeguard, bubble gum maker, door-to-door detergent promoter, telephone book proofreader, short order cook, private employment agency counselor and owner, office and credit manger, infantryman, pots and pans salesman, Chinese restaurant cook, Chinese restaurant owner, public employment counselor, budget analyst, tax analyst, grant administrator, radio announcer, radio and television show host, disk jockey, automobile valet, child advocate, and now retiree. I've seldom been bored.
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One Response to Remembering The Thanksgiving My Turkey Exploded

  1. May Lavinia says:

    My first ever reading of your ’11 tale. Will remember to reconstruct into some semblance of a turkey-ish shape should this happen to me. True true: if the gravy and stuffing taste goos…voila! the dinner is a success.

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