The Perfect Turkey for a Holiday Crisis

Pre-cooked, organic, and ready in an hour. What else could you ask for when something upends the holiday meal?

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It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and my little family had finally managed to drag itself to the table, draped in various states of sick-wear. We stopped coughing and groaning long enough to say a prayer before tucking into the sparse holiday meal on our plates. It was just turkey, stuffing, a roll, and apple slices, but it was nonetheless a feast. And after a week of illness, we were blessed to finally be feeling well enough to eat. Even better, the bird had come out of our own oven, required a mere hour of cook time, and was delicious.

The turkey we were eating that day came from storied organic turkey producers Diestel Farms, which costs about $75 for a 9-pound bird. They’d sent the frozen pre-roasted bird for me to review. The idea had originally been to prepare the turkey ahead of Thanksgiving and write up a measured consideration of its pros and cons. But a week before Thanksgiving crisis struck.

It started with the six-year-old, who ran a fever of 102 for seven days which kept him home from school and found him napping through Pokemon episodes on the couch. The fever then turned into a monstrous cough — the kind that triggers gagging.

Then, four days prior to Thanksgiving, my wife and the 4-year-old went down with the same thing. I did too, but with milder symptoms that made me the point man and nurse while my wife sweated and groaned in bed.

By the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we’d told our in-laws we’d be missing the family feast. On Thanksgiving day, we managed only a frozen pizza for those who were well enough to eat it. Meanwhile, the Diestel bird sat thawed in our fridge.

Finally, Sunday arrived and three out of four fevers had broken. We required turkey dinner. To say that the pre-roasted, organic Diestel turkey was easy to make would be an understatement. It required no stuffing, no basting, and no brining. We seasoned it with a recommended paste of fat and spices to our taste and put it in a 325 degree for an hour to heat it because it was already fully cooked.

Even better was that the bird tasted as good as if we had put way more thought and effort into it. It was juicy, well flavored, and paired with some boxed stuffing and a vegetable or two, made our paltry feast feel that much more robust. The bonus, of course, was that easy leftovers meant even less to think about as we healed up.

If this year has taught me anything, it’s that shit will happen. And it will happen regardless of whether or not the season is meant to be precious and joyous or not. For my money, having one of these frozen birds on hand is like prepping for a Holiday doomsday. It’s a contingency plan — an avian safety net to ensure that something of the holiday joy will be salvaged, even if the feast arrives days late.

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