Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lessons Learned

Yeah, so the Bahston Mahket Heat 'N Eat Meal-Deal sounded like a totally cool idea, right?

(And I'm not complaining... I'm merely "Sharing my Observations!")

(Okay, maybe I AM complaining!!)


Turkey Banquet for 12 includes:
Spinach/Artichoke Dip + Crackers
11 lb Whole Turkey
Mashed Taters 'n Gravy
Veggie Stuffing
Cranberry Walnut Relish (tho I don't recall seeing any walnuts in it - come to think of it!)
Apple and Pumpkin Pie

I also added a couple of Sweet Potato Casseroles on the side (and BOY were they sweet!). They were kinda like mashed/pureed sweet potatoes with lots of brown sugar mixed in. Then they had mini-marshmallows and streudel-crumblies to sprinkle on top. Yes - *very* sweet! (But also *very* tasty!)

Total bill was appx $100 (after $10.00 off coupon) so, honestly, a pretty economical approach to take. Although I don't really think it would feed 12 (unless 6 were small children!). I'd say it would feed about 8-10 adults...

(BTW - They also had options for a Spiral Sliced Ham Banquet for 12 - or a Boneless Turkey Breast Banquet for 6)

So on Thanksgiving day, I'd perused their website and read thru the cooking instructions. They indicate that you should allow about 2 hours for heating/prep. Okay...

Price is right...

Work sounds minimal...

What the hell - Go for it!

So I order the meal online... Key in my credit card... Place Order.. M'kayFine...

I'm all set for our Low-Drag/Time-Saving Christmas Holiday Feast!

Well, except for the Time-Saving part... Ummm... I think not..!

First there's the 45 minute wait (standing in line, paying w/my credit card [again?!], then waiting-waiting-waiting) to pick-up the meal... When I placed the order online, I was prompted to "select" a pick-up time (1:45-2:00pm, Christmas eve was practically the ONLY time-slot that was open!). I arrived at 1:50pm - but didn't get out 'til after 2:30pm! To be fair, there were LOTS of ppl with the same idea and the kids at Boston Market were juggling just as fast as they could (And they even helped carry the stuff out to my truck)!

Then there's the realization that everything (except the turkey) is in plastic (yes, nuke-able) containers - which is fine, except that some of the stuff really needed to be oven-cooked. Or at least "finished" in the oven (gotta have a little crispy-ness to the stuffing and of course the marshmallows on the sweet p'taters need to be browned!)

Yeah, I s'pose I coulda dragged out some of my bakeware - but that went against the whole "Low-Drag" Concept!

So, "Oh boy!" A trip to the grocery store to pick up aluminum/disposable baking pans! On Christmas Eve!!! I can't even begin to describe THAT experience!!! (Hint: Wear protective gear!)

(The irony of THAT was - just a few weeks earlier - I'd gotten RID of a buttload of disposable aluminum baking pans during the Kitchen Purge!!!) (:::sigh:::)

* * * * *
I spent Christmas morning setting up the tables and whatnot.

So I asked Cindy to call me when they left the house - that'd give me 45-60 minutes' lead-time.

According to the destructions, the turkey should take 90 minutes to heat in a 350° oven - and heat it to an internal temp of 140° (140°??? Double-check that. Yup, 140°) Well, the turkey's in a roasting bag, and it's already browned, so I'm figuring we must be just re-heating it - rather than "cooking" it.

Okay... I stick a thermometer in the thigh just the same - and wait for the oven to pre-heat...

I put the turkey (which came in a grossly undersized aluminum roasting pan!) on a cookie sheet and put him in the oven. Then set out the hors d'oeuvres (veggie tray, cheese/crackers, spinach dip...). Then I sat down and try to figure out the logistics of getting everything heated and ready to serve at the same time while I waited for everyone to arrive

One oven. One nuker. Multiple side-dishes with different cooking times/requirements. Do I nuke the spuds first and hope they hold the heat? Can I squeeze the stuffing and sweet potatoes in the oven on the rack under the turkey? (Answer: "No!") Which saucepan should I use for the gravy and should I heat up both tubs o' gravy, or only one?

Basically, at this point, it was kinda like actually-cooking a complete Turkey Meal!!!

And what's that beeping? (about 35 minutes into it). It's the digital thermometer. Evidently the turkey is already at 140°! Huh?!! What?!! It was supposed to roast for 90 minutes!!

So now I'm scrambling like a madman! Take the turkey out of the oven and set him on a cutting board to "rest." Start nuking the sweet potatoes and stuffing (in their plastic containers), so they'll get warm then transfer 'em to metal containers so I can get the crispy-toasty part taken care of. Throw the spuds in the nuker and dump a tub of gravy in a saucepan. Sprout a few extra arms and dance on one leg while somehow managing to get EVERYTHING ready to serve at once!

("Ohhhh yeah... THIS is the suckiest part of cooking! It's not the prep-work! It's the juggling to get it all done at the same time!!! Duuuuhhhhh!!!!")

Okay, everything's *just* about ready, and the turkey should be well-rested... I open the bag and get ready to transfer him to the serving platter. When I reach in to remove the bird from the bag, I notice the turkey really isn't all that hot.


And when I lift the bird out of the bag, I notice a rather unpleasant pinkish tinge in the drippings...


Stick the thermometer back in his thigh and find that he's barely 100°.

"Ohhhh sh*****t!!!"

Thankfully, I hadn't announced that dinner was ready. And everybody was off socializing in the den, so they were pretty-much oblivious to the antics in the kitchen. Everyone except Sharon, of course. She was sitting at the kitchen table looking incredulous and opined "I guess this isn't so simple after all - is it?"

Well, long story short: I backed up a few steps and put the bird back in the oven for another hour - and re-set the thermometer alarm to go off at 160° (THAT worked much better!). Slapped some foil on top of the side-dishes and set 'em on top of the stove to keep warm.

After about a half an hour, Rog starts circling around the kitchen (rather vulture-like, in retrospect! ;-) and announcing "I'm hungry. When's all of this supposed to be ready?" I caught Sharon smiling as I resisted the urge to strangle him. Instead, I gently guided him over to the Appetizer Trays......

* * * * *
All Told: It took almost as long as cooking a full-blown turkey dinner would have taken! But it *was* very delicious.

It definitely did taste home-made - as opposed to tasting like it came from Boston Market (Not that Boston Market food tastes "bad" - it just has a "Boston Market" flavor to it). So the turkey tasted home-made and was quite delicious. There was PLENTY of food to go around and yes, we do have leftovers. But not an excessive amount.

I actually am very pleased with how everything came out so, truly, this isn't a B*tch-Fest. I just wanted to "Share my Experience" and "Opinion" that "Heat 'N Serve" Holiday Banquet Meals are NOT as simple as they sound!!!

Would I do it again? Yeah, probably.

Won't be so bad next time - since I know what to expect! :-)

No comments:


View my page on Meet the Phlockers