“A fresh-killed turkey needs to breathe.” Advice from a poultry farmer that I learned too late.
At 10 pm on the night before Thanksgiving, I discovered that the 18 lb. turkey had spoiled.
I had wrapped it 2 or 3 ways before placing it in a cold garage for storage, leaving room in an overcrowded refrigerator for other holiday foods.
It was something I had done for years with no complications. This year would be different. I had overwrapped the bird. The smell hit me as the first layer was removed.
A look of sheer horror fell upon my face, and my adult children came to the rescue.
They found one grocery store that was still open for business on the other side of town.
We arrived to find a few very large frozen birds that would never work.
And then, we saw them.
Four nearly identical Cornish game hens in the fresh meat aisle.
I remembered a recipe from Emeril Lagasse for an orange-glazed variety that was clipped from a magazine years before, but never tried.
It worked. It went so well with the traditional side dishes and desserts that were already prepared.
Thanksgiving has always been an important holiday, perfect for that food-focused family. But the years of traditional turkey and trimmings, carefully prepared, with some degree of culinary success ? Those have all paled in comparison to this near-disaster of a holiday with a happy ending.
It’s the one we will always remember.