As I mentioned before, the Walkers hosted our first Friendsgiving this year comprised of some good friends we have made through Jared's residency program. As hostess, I offered to make the turkey...which immediately set me into fits of panic.
While I had never roasted a turkey before, I had roasted a whole chicken...and it was a dismal failure. I attempted this feat when Jared and I were engaged. Jared loves roast chicken legs, so I decided to make him a special meal. The problem was, I didn't thaw the bird properly, so it didn't cook right in the oven. Only the legs cooked properly, ironically enough. Jared was happy, but I was scarred by how fine a line you have to walk when roasting a whole bird.
Besides my traumatic past with whole birds, I suppose my fear of cooking the turkey also involved the responsibility of cooking the centerpiece. My lovely friends were bringing delicious side dishes and desserts to complete the meal, but I was responsible for the anchor. I mean, what do people think first when they consider the Thanksgiving meal? TURKEY!
I gathered advice from a lot of different people before I decided to cook a turkey breast instead of the whole bird. The breast would be easier to carve and more appropriate for the amount of people at Thanksgiving. (And bonus, no giblets!). I decided to use Barefoot Contessa's herb roasted turkey breast recipe, because her recipes are basically foolproof. And that's what I needed.
|The turkey, ready for the oven! I forgot I didn't have a roasting stand, so I improvised...|
I also bought a special thermometer which alerts you when the turkey reaches the necessary temperature. No food poisoning at my Thanksgiving!
Once the turkey went in the oven, I felt like I could breathe again. I had done everything I could do. Now, I just had to wait for the turkey to reach the correct temperature and take it out.
When my friends started to arrive for Thanksgiving, they piled their delicious-looking dishes in my kitchen. My friend Stephanie brought a ham to take some of the pressure off the turkey as well. Right before we started eating, Stephanie, who had made a sweet potato soufflé, said this was her first time making it, so please judge kindly! My friend Kristin said the same thing about her pumpkin pie and brussel sprouts with balsamic glaze.
Listening to them, I realized turkeyphobia is not exclusive to the person making the turkey. It extends to everyone who has a part in the Thanksgiving meal, because we all want it to be perfect. We all want to honor our childhood memories and the incredible meals our grandparents and parents have created before us. We all want a semblance of tradition, even though residency has made that impossible for the time being.
And you know what, everything was delicious. We all enjoyed that down-home, comforting Thanksgiving meal we thought we wouldn't have away from our families this year. I realized my turkeyphobia was completely misplaced. Instead of worrying about the turkey, I should have spent my time being grateful for the incredible people Jared and I have met in Florida. While I certainly missed my family back home in Texas, I feel so thankful to have had a Friendsgiving this year.