Your 10 Funniest Thanksgiving Bloopers + the Most Common Disasters Read More ht
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A month ago, we asked Bon Appetit readers to share their craziest Thanksgiving food disaster stories. Hundreds of you wrote in, and we read every single entry about flaming turkeys, inedible gravies, ruined casseroles, and more. From the day the contest kicked off, these tales were all we could talk about around the New York offices of Bon Appetit. "Did you read the one where the woman's family arrived and she went to serve the turkey and realized she never even turned on the oven?!" "No! But did you read the one about the turkey that was left to chill in the backyard and got eaten by a raccoon?"
We'd laugh and laugh, knowing exactly how those moments feel during the holidays. And then we'd go back for more.
As we continued to read our way through the huge stack of entries, we started to see trends: a third cook left the giblets bag inside her turkey, then a fourth, then a twentieth. We had to create a whole separate stack for people whose meals were eaten by their dogs and cats.
So we decided to keep a tally of the repeat stories. Only unique stories could qualify as finalists in the contest–we had to choose a winner to receive an All-Clad turkey roasting pan, after all--but we started to think that the stories you all had in common might be more important.
Here's why: All over the country on Thursday, families and friends in every shape and size will cook the same meal. (Or try to, at least.) Many of you will break your disposal with potato peels. Many of you will cook the paper liner into the crust of a store-bought pie. And an overwhelming number of you will accidentally use powdered sugar instead of cornstarch to thicken your gravy. There's something great there. Call it a sense of commonality, community, or wax poetic about the unifying power of tradition. We're kind of in it together.
And then there were the heros: The mother-in-laws who came into the kitchen to find a crying cook, but said "Pick up that turkey off the floor, wipe it off and let's have dinner." There were dads, uncles, and grandmas who scooped out the pie filling, poured in that missing sugar or spice, and dumped it back in the crust. These stories reminded us why this holiday, including its trials and tribulations in the kitchen, is so wonderful. So this year we'd like to give thanks to our community for your willingness to share with us.
Here now, by popular request, are two lists: First, a list of the most common disasters and second, our finalists. A winner will be announced before the Thanksgiving holiday at bonappetit.com.
Here are Your 3 Most Common Thanksgiving Disasters:
3. You reached for the wrong thing. Hundreds of you sent in stories about accidentally using the wrong ingredient in your pies, gravies, casseroles and more. Our favorite iteration was a reader who accidentally used Vicks 44 instead of vanilla in her ice cream.
2. Someone (or something) else ate my turkey. Sometimes you put the bird outside to cool and found a carcass in the morning. Or sometimes your dog, cat, or pet bunnies got to do the feasting--especially when you dropped it on the floor.
1. There's something in there. This was the most common disaster by a long shot. Whether you forgot to remove the bag of innards or left a wad of paper towels in the cavity after drying the bird, hundreds of you have treated your family to a surprise stuffing.
"No One Will Ever Know"
At the first Thanksgiving dinner with the in laws, I was doing my best to impress everyone with my skills in the kitchen. I was given the honor of slicing up the bird. My mother-in-law positioned a cutting board over the kitchen sink, placed the turkey on it and said, "have at it." I was careful to first remove the giblets and undo the wiring holding the legs together. As my finger touched the piping hot metal, I exclaimed "ow!" and the bird went sliding into the soapy dishwater right next to it. The good mother-in-law quickly recovered the bird, rinsed it off with hot water, and encouraged me by saying, "no one will ever know." Until now I guess. - Kevin, Wheeling, IL
"The Ice Maker"
We purchased our fresh Thanksgiving turkey too far in advance and had to freeze it. Unfortunately the freezer was too small. With determination and lots of pushing, we forced the turkey in and closed the freezer door. It wasn't until we went to remove the turkey to thaw that we remembered that water expands when it freezes. The turkey was huge and solidly stuck against the ice maker. We left the freezer door open for hours but it wouldn't budge. We pulled out a hair dryer to speed up the defrosting process but the ice maker held tight. Finally in desperation, we shut off the electricity and cut the lines to the ice maker. Both the ice maker and the turkey slid out gracefully. The turkey was delicious and now we use old-fashioned ice trays. - Sharon, Friday Harbor, WA
A couple of years ago, my younger sister decided she was finally brave enough to join in the family tradition of everyone making a dish to bring to Thanksgiving dinner. We suggested she make a green bean casserole since it is easy (the recipe is right on the can) and inexpensive (a little condensed soup and frozen green beans). On Thanksgiving day she walked in with a huge roasting pan and set it on the counter. I asked her how it came out and she said, "okay, but it cost more money to make than I thought." She uncovered the dish to reveal a gray, gelatinous, green-specked mass sprinkled with a few fried onions on top. I calmly asked, "sweetheart, did you follow the recipe?" "Yes!" she replied, "I just can't believe how much soup it takes to make it!" I grabbed an extra can of green beans we had to see what had gone wrong and there it was: (2) 10oz cans cream of mushroom soup. Without much experience, she had thought it said 10 cans, not 10oz cans! We put the dish out on the table with everyone else's dish because she had put so much effort into it. Everyone took a big gray scoop of it, and no one in our family has thought about green bean casserole the same way again. - Kerri, Ewing, NJ
"The 'Kosher' Turkey"
One year I chose the "Kosher Turkey" recipe from Rick Rodger's cookbook, Thanksgiving 101. I purchased a kosher turkey from my butcher and didn't think about it until an hour before cooking time. I unwrapped the bird to find it completely covered in feathers. I called my butcher who laughed and said "Lady, I assumed you knew what you were in for." He told me to pick up a pair of pliers and start plucking. When the guests arrived we were still plucking. All the guests pitched in and my clean kitchen became littered with greasy, limp feathers. It turned out to be the tastiest turkey of all time. -Denise, Ridegefield, PA
"The Cutting Board"
When I was in college, my older brother and I lived in the same city. I insisted we celebrate the holiday together. I had no frame of reference for cooking Thanksgiving dinner, but preparation went remarkably wellË¿until the grand carving of the turkey. I had soaked the cutting board in a pine cleaner to get it spanking clean and the turkey tasted like a Christmas tree. I've since become a cooking instructor (many years later!). -Jo Ann, Delray Beach, FL
Two years ago my sister asked me how I made my turkey so moist, so I gave her my secret recipe: Inject the turkey with a pomegranate salad dressing, cover it with a cheese cloth and baste it with a white wine-butter reduction every half hour." My mother called me on Thanksgiving to ask me what I had told my sister, because there is no way she got the instructions right. It turned out my PHd-smart sister inject the turkey with pomegranate concentrate which made the turkey meat pink. If that wasn't funny enough, my mother asked me why I told her to cover the turkey with cheese and saturate it with wine. I swear my sister can find new medicines, but she can't cook! -Marie, Sunrise, FL
"Who Needs To Read Instructions?"
I put the pumpkin straight from the can into th pie crust and put it into the oven. I didn't know you needed to add ingredients! -Natasha, Washington D.C.
It was my mother's first Thanksgiving. The recipe for roast turkey began by instructing the cook to "wash and dry" the bird. My mother washed the turkey with SOS pads and dish soap, and evidently it didn't rinse very well." -Tom, New York
We were in charge of all the pies for desert. My wife is known for her pie making abilities, and had made a beautiful assortment. We left the pies on the table and went to finish getting read for dinner. While we were getting dressed, our 5-year-old decided to help mom with the pie. He grabbed the salt (the one with a single hole) and processed to add whimsical designs across the pumpkin, coconut cream, cherry nut, and peanut butter swirl pies. -Scott, Philadelphia, PA
In 2005, I pre-ordered an expensive fresh bone-in turkey breast for my first Thanksgiving. To my horror, there was a giant hole in the skin right at the top middle of the breastbone of what was supposed to be my first masterpiece! I brined the bird in a salt and sugar solution, but I wasn't sure if that would keep it moist with the hole there. I cut off some excess skin around the neck area and pieced together a toupee for my bird's bald spot. When my bird emerged from the oven, I must admit, it was quite ugly. The skin had shrunk and pulled away, but otherwise it was a perfectly cooked bird! To this day, we still reminisce about my ugly but oh-so-delicious Frankenturkey! -Kim, Huntington Beach, CA