It’s OK to serve pre-prepped bake in the bag frozen turkey this Thanksgiving.
I am talking to the cooks now. If you have never run the gauntlet that is cooking Thanksgiving dinner or if stove top stuffing with brown and serve sausage is your heirloom family recipe, you can skip the rest of this blog post.
But if you really cook…
If you would prefer a fresh turkey from the butcher (if you could afford it)…
If you intentionally buy overlarge birds specifically for leftovers…
If you inject or marinate or brine your turkey with a concoction of your own special design…
It is OK to go to the frozen food aisle at Target, find the “Archer Farms™ Cook-in-bag Homestyle Turkey”, buy it, and take it straight from the freezer to the oven. No thawing or seasoning to worry about because it is prepped at the factory. No, this post is not an advertisement for Target.
This is a post for those of us lucky enough to endure hospitalization, infirmity, or death during the holidays.
In 1994, my niece Leah was born with a congenital heart defect that required her to have heart surgery in order to survive. Unfortunately, she died November 24, eight days old on the operating table- Thanksgiving Day twenty-five years ago. In the midst of this tragedy, many families organized and delivered a pre-prepped Thanksgiving meal to us, including a frozen turkey. It was incredible generosity in the true spirit of the season. All we had to do was cook it though the turkey had to be prepared. To my knowledge, no pre-prepped bake in the bag frozen turkey was available at the time.
Still with me?
I started cooking Thanksgiving dinner in 2012 when a family member moved to Minneapolis and suddenly there were two of us far from home but near each other. This is a typical menu I prepare for Thanksgiving. It’s not a potluck- my cooking partner and I do it all:
Garlic butter infused turkey
Fresh homemade stuffing
Cream cheese mashed potatoes
Southern Comfort candied sweet potatoes
Green bean casserole
Homemade cheese ball
Homemade pumpkin pie
Homemade pecan pie
Real whipped cream
In 2016, my Thanksgiving cooking partner suffered a life-threatening medical condition that put her in the hospital & nursing home for a combined 310 days from June 2016-April 2017. She spent the holidays in the nursing home and while they did celebrate with the residents by cooking special meals, it was not the same as being with family and friends.
Determined to do something for my friend over the holiday season, I scheduled and cancelled Thanksgiving dinner in the nursing home conference room twice- due to a snowstorm and then the polar vortex. Finally, on the first weekend in January, we were able to have a New Year’s luncheon. I can cook everything in disposable aluminum containers but how was I going to deal with the turkey? Pre-prepped bake in the bag frozen turkey. I took it out of my freezer, removed the outer bag, threw it in the pan, and three hours later I had a self-contained package of whole turkey that I could transport without a mess.
My mom has MDS (a blood cancer). Her condition is escalating and on October 28, she started a new chemo treatment that involves IV chemo. Previously, she was receiving chemo shots. She is getting weaker and life is more difficult. On my last visit with her on November 9, she mentioned with some sadness that she would not be able to cook a turkey this year because it would be too difficult. That’s when I told her about the pre-prepped bake in the bag frozen turkey. Thanksgiving 2019 is less than a week away and she may cook a turkey yet!
It’s a circumstance we don’t think about until it is thrust upon us. But it turns out that tragedy happens every day regardless of what holidays we choose to celebrate. This pre-prepped turkey allows those cooks among us who are too sick or elderly or busy or whatever to still have an enjoyable and tasty holiday.
And how about those who are not facing extraordinary circumstances but are struggling in other ways? Or those that are not confident cooking a turkey from scratch? I’ll say it again… It’s OK to serve pre-prepped bake in the bag frozen turkey this Thanksgiving. Seriously, they are good!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
-Copyright C.M. Mounts, November 2019