|Turkey is always on the menu at my house on Thanksgiving –credit|
Two years ago on Thanksgiving, I cooked a bird with all the fixings in my Upper West Side kitchen for the very first time. This was not my first attempt at assembling a large holiday meal for a small group of five, nor was it the first time I roasted a turkey. I’ve cooked turkey for 10-12 people before without fail. It was however, the very first time I did any of this in a New York apartment without a full-size oven. Big mistake.
After living without a 30-inch range for the past three-plus years, I now realize the importance of said range, and I vow to never live with another kitchen that has anything less than a 30-inch, unless it’s a Viking. I’m not a cooking snob, but the Viking has larger interior space than my Bertazzoni, which is considered a “high-end” range. Not to mention that in a Viking, I could fit a turkey. In the B range, I can’t cook a turkey or a pizza (we bake pizza by the half or heat by the slice), and probably lots of other recipes that I don’t attempt to prepare because I can easily walk outside my door and buy food or order delivery. I use the oven as little as possible –– it’s nothing but stress to prepare a meal in the Bertazzoni. Here’s why….
The oven holds no interior temperature and has no pre-heat function. Forget about starting at one temperature and then finishing at another. Not possible. And there’s no real way to know what the temp is in the oven. We’ve added a cheapie clip-on thermometer to the top wire rack, but without it, we have no idea what the temp is –– ever.
|The handsome yet incapable B Range–credit|
To pre-heat, I must turn the oven up to 500 degrees and wait for 30 minutes for it to reach 300, then hope for the best. Yes, hope that my Thanksgiving bird will be fully cooked, not raw, and not burnt. I’ve cooked better meals in old electric 1970s Hotpoint stoves than I could ever cook in this thing.
Looking back on 2010, Gary was en route from West Virginia and would arrive by dinner, and Heather came early for pre-Thanksgiving cocktails. All the while, I was in the kitchen having a meltdown. Michael and I tried to squeeze the bird into the teeny oven but it wouldn’t fit unless we removed the metal racks (no thermometer!), which we did. Obviously, I should’ve pulled a measuring tape inside the oven before I purchased a turkey. Crazy, but true.
Due to the dollhouse interior, I had to roast directly on the bottom of the oven, which I don’t recommend. The inside caught on fire, the smoke alarm was set off, the dog barked repeatedly, the cat hid under the bed, and I stared at the flaming oven and tried to figure out how to quickly and efficiently remove the bird without burning down the co-op. Meanwhile, the turkey was still raw.
Michael extinguished the mini-fire (mostly lots of smoke, which filled our sprawling one-bedroom). I pulled Tom out, placed a foil-lined cookie sheet under the roasting pan and plopped him back in. Surprisingly, even though we had a small fire inside the B range, the bird was unscorched.
Hours later, finally around 7:30pm, Mr. Bird was fully cooked and we had dinner. After this stressful culinary endeavor, I vowed to never roast a turkey in that bloody oven again. Actually, I vowed to never cook Thanksgiving Dinner in this apartment again. So last year, we went out to Atlantic Grill, and it was stress-free and splendid.
But this year, I’m feeling brave — or stupid. Perhaps I forgot the catastrophe from two years ago. Perhaps I think I can conquer this, and I’m more up to the challenge since I nearly set fire to my over-priced piece of New York real estate, and surely, it can’t happen again.
This time, I’ll be cooking the legendary annual meal with a different approach.Tomorrow, I’ll cook half of a turkey breast, one turkey thigh, and two drumsticks. Yep, that’s what it will be, a turkey in parts, because until I replace the B range, no full birds are allowed in the Kaler apartment, unless they’re Cornish Hens. And for me, it’s just not Thanksgiving without Tom, even if he is in pieces.