Free Advice on Thawing Frozen Turkey

Posted by Princess Eva Angelica On 12:49 PM
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," and our popular ongoing series of free advice! Visit often -- maybe someday you'll actually find something useful. Or not. No guarantees.

Today we're talking turkey, both the gobbler kind and the vulture kind. Sit back as our story unfolds.

Every year, our local Acme Market gives away frozen turkeys to any customer who spends $300 in a certain number of weeks. I'm not sure if it's six weeks or eight, but I shop there all the time, so I never fail to qualify for a frozen turkey. What I love about this giveaway is that I can get a turkey, keep it frozen, and heave it out when the weatherman predicts a blizzard. Call it my Appalachian DNA, but there's something soothing about knowing you've got a big-ass frozen turkey on hand as a contingency plan.

If you buy frozen turkeys, you know that the advice on how to thaw them is printed on the plastic wrap that coats their poor icy carcasses. "Do not thaw frozen turkey at room temperature. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, or run cold water over turkey for two hours."

Ever tried either one of those tactics, reader? Ever wake up on Thanksgiving morning to a rock-solid frozen turkey that was supposed to be thawed after an overnight stay in the fridge? Have you ever wasted a reservoir of water trying to soften the thing up, only to wind up facing a hungry family with nothing more than cranberry sauce and sweet potato casserole?

Don't try this at home, but my mama (may she rest in peace among the Confederate dead) just sat the frozen turkey on the counter top to thaw. Then she cooked it, and we ate it, and none of us died from it or even got sick. As I say, though, don't take chances! Here's where the free advice comes in.

Thaw that bird at least five days in the fridge, and then don't be surprised if it's still rock-solid inside. Free advice, freely given, all hail free!

Now you're asking, "Anne, dear, why are you talking turkey in July? Wouldn't this be best left for early November?"

Yes, of course this would be best left until early November, but that would be logical. I hope you didn't come here for logic! If you did, you took a wrong turn somewhere.

I'm talking turkey now because last week along the mighty Chesapeake Bay I made my annual donation to the local vulture population. I shoved a big frozen turkey (sans plastic wrap) into a soybean field near our Bed and Breakfast inn.

(Last year's donation was a fresh roadkill possum, adult, that hadn't even drawn flies. But one cannot always be this lucky.)

Picture a 15-pound frozen turkey, lying in a soybean field under the bright sunshine, with the temperature hovering at 97 or higher. How long will it take to thaw?

By my unscientific calculations, any frozen carcass would thaw rapidly under such conditions. I figured two, maybe three hours. But judging by the behavior of the local vulture population, that frozen turkey took 24 hours to gain any notice at all, and another 8 hours before it got consumed. By contrast, I heaved last year's dead possum into the same field at about 8:00 in the morning and found nothing but a spine and a tail (and much vulture down) at 2:30 the same day.

Of course you could argue -- and I wouldn't dispute you -- that roadkill possum is a familiar dish to the Golden Purifiers, and Acme frozen turkey is exotic fare. Still, vultures aren't very picky about what they eat. Think about it: It took one whole day of 97 degrees sunshine, followed by a night where the temperature did not drop under 80, and then half of another 97-degree day, before the turkey vultures found their treat.

Keep this in mind the next time your local grocery store lets you walk out with a free frozen turkey. The thawing directions are bogus. Don't expect a quick turnaround time. Let the vultures of St. Michaels, MD be your guide, and plan accordingly.

Our ushers will now pass the plate. Dig deep.

(*snort* I hope this starts popping up in Google searches on this topic, but I doubt it will.)

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