Culinary no-no #540

For so many reasons I wish my mother was here. Certainly I would have consulted her for this week’s installment.

Thanksgiving arrives soon, very soon. Many folks will be absolutely terrified at the thought of preparing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Quite honestly, they don’t have the foggiest idea of what to do, where to even begin.

There is, of course, the Butterball Turkey Hotline that has heard it all in its more than 30 years of operation including the following:

A man cut his turkey in half with a chain saw and wanted to know if the oil from the chain would adversely affect the turkey.

An Alabama man found a turkey from 1969 in his dad’s freezer. How to cook it? Forget the open roasting pan method – the hotline operator suggested buying a fresher bird.

Guests were coming from the Bahamas, and their hostess wanted a “tropical” turkey with a “bikini look.” The Talk-Line operator’s suggestion? Place pieces of aluminum foil over strategic spots on the bird and let the exposed skin “tan” in the oven.

Asked what state her turkey was in, the caller told the Talk-Line operator: “Florida.”

How to make sure the turkey fits in the pan? A man proudly called the hotline to share his solution: Wrap the turkey in a towel, stomp on it to break the bones and smoosh it into the pan.

Where’s the breast meat? Turn the bird over, the Talk-Line operator told the caller.

A first-time T-day cook rinsed her bird – with dish soap – and now the suds wouldn’t stop. She was told not to rinse the turkey next time; just dry it with paper towels.

Could the turkey be slow-roasted for three or four days, a mom asked, because her daughter loved how the bird made the house smell. No, the Talk-Line expert replied, turkey should be cooked for just a few hours – not over four days.

Beyond the hotline there is the Internet with thousands of experts willing to lend their expertise on Thanksgiving FAQ’s. Or, you could contact mom or grandma.

Who would you trust?

For me, hands down,  good ‘ole Mom.

She did 99.9% of the work on Thanksgiving, beginning the day before. That’s when Mom started preparing the homemade stuffing. Cutting and soaking the bread, etc.

Then the next morning, she’d start cooking the stuffing…

Inside the bird.

Wrong, wrong, wrong some of the so-called “experts” claim.

Do this and you risk the worst Thanksgiving disaster: everyone getting sick.

Sure. Could happen. If you’re one of those poor souls who desperately needs to dial that hotline.

Here’s what the USDA says:

For optimum safety, stuffing a turkey is not recommended. For more even cooking, it is recommended you cook your stuffing outside the bird in a casserole. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the stuffing. The stuffing must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.


And seriously. I once again raise the question about trust. Mom, or the federal government.

Mom never ever made dressing outside the turkey.

It was the most delicious in the world.

No one got ill.

Here’s another no-no I discovered from my extensive online research.

You mean to tell me you actually plan to…

Baste your turkey?

Some writer actually posted that Mom was wrong. You know why?

You want to baste so you get that nice, golden brown skin. Silly you.

Don’t you realize to baste, you have to what? Open the oven door.

Obviously physics, or something, should alert you that every time you do that there’s a drop in temperature.  That will make the roasting process more uneven and take longer as well.

Mom always basted. She said you have to.


The carving.

Again, that historic method that would look perfect on a magazine cover…

Completely wrong.

You slice the turkey breast down the side don’t you?

Admit it. The slices are too thin. They dry out.

No, you’re supposed to remove the entire breast from the bone and then cut across into thick, yummy pieces.

Mom never did that. The turkey was scrumptious.

And finally you can find all kinds of tables on how much to prepare for the number of your guests because Heaven forbid you don’t want the stress of not having enough to eat.

OK, let’s be honest. Have you ever been at a Thanksgiving feast where there was a food shortage?

I didn’t think so.

If Mom were alive today, she’d scoff, politely and respectfully at these suggestions. There would be no complaints.


McDonald’s employee says don’t order this drink




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