As with anything I have absolutely no knowledge about, I turned to Google for help in preparing the turkey. Apparently you're supposed to buy 3/4 lb turkey breast (or 1 lb whole turkey) per guest. But when I got to the store the 7.5 lb turkey I was supposed to buy looked rather wimpy. I went for an almost 9.5 lb turkey instead ('cause you can't have success without excess). The next day, I rose at the crack of midmorning so I could have the bird ready by the early afternoon, when my guests were due to arrive. Then, I read the instructions: "Brush with oil or butter and season. Place on wire rack in roasting pan..."
Simple enough, right? Only I didn't have a brush, seasoning, or a wire rack. Oops. I tried rubbing the turkey down with vegetable oil, but I accidentally poured too much into my hand. I panicked and dumped it all on the turkey, drenching it. Not an auspicious beginning. I tried to remove some of the oil, but I only succeeded in further molesting the poor bird. Then I dug through my cabinets and found a chipotle rub that had served me well in the past. Sprinkled that on, and the turkey had turned a lovely light orange color. Faaaan-tastic. As for the pan, I improvised. Perhaps the less said about that, the better.
It was with some trepidation that I put the turkey in the oven at 10 o'clock. It was supposed to need 3 hours to cook, but when I checked it at noon, the little timer had popped out! I turned off the oven and Googled, "how to keep a turkey warm for two hours without drying it to the point of unrecognizability." I got a surprising number of hits. I ended up basting it and leaving it in oven. My friend Rachel was bringing the sweet potatoes, and would need the oven to melt the marshmallow topping (*drool*). I figured we could warm everything up at once, so I tossed the mashed potatoes in there as well.
Once most of the guests had arrived, it was time to heat up the food. I moved the top rack down to accommodate Rachel's casserole dish. Little did I realize, the rack was now sitting directly on top of the turkey. Pressing on the top of the turkey, as it turned out. So much so that when I tried to slide out the bottom rack to retrieve said turkey, only the pan moved. The turkey, perched precariously on my makeshift rack, almost fell out into the oven. In my haste to correct this situation, I jostled the bowl of potatoes and it actually fell out into the oven.
And now I was in a blind panic. Rachel and I yanked her casserole dish out and plonked it on the stove. I then shifted the top rack out of the way, hollering at Doug (who was closest) to move my dish drying rack out of the way. I quickly extracted the turkey from the oven, almost dropping it no fewer than three times. As soon as I got the turkey on the counter top, I whirled back to check the potatoes. Luckily, they hadn't spilled - which was probably more due to their consistency than their flimsy tin foil covering. Final score Sri: 1, malicious Thanksgiving foodstuffs: 0.
Happily, the turkey turned out well. The extra oil made the skin nice a crispy, and it was moist and delicious all the way through. Mmmmmmm. And unlike my family Thanksgiving where we end up with a freezerful of turkey meat, I had only one container of leftovers. Now all I have to do is figure out a way to use the "ruined" cranberry sauce (how I was I to know you were supposed to slice the gelatinous cylinder, instead of just mixing the hell out of the thing?) and I'll be all set!
Thanks to Maggie, Rachel, Doug, Lisa, Amanda, Jays, Susan and Patrick for enabling this mad experiment. And for bringing side dishes. Same time next year?