Title: Turkey 101
Summary: Mulder and Scully reminisce about Thanksgiving past
Authors' note: This story was written for IMTP Virtual Season 12, Thanksgiving Special.
Mulder and Scully sat around their dining table having just finished their Thanksgiving dinner. The table was packed with food. There was a modest sized turkey that had been roasted to perfection, missing a few slices. There were half full bowls of dressing, mashed potatoes, and green beans. There was even a gravy boat containing what looked like giblet gravy. There was a beautiful centerpiece of autumn flowers, surrounded by burning candles. It was perfect; Martha Stewart would have been proud.
"Mulder...that was the best turkey yet. I believe you outdid yourself", Scully said rubbing her full belly. "You just keep getting better every year. I don't know how you do it."
"Yeah...well...compared to the first year, it isn't hard to show improvement", laughed Mulder, remembering his first experience cooking a turkey. "Do you remember that?"
Scully broke into a wide grin, "Of course, I remember. I was completely surprised. I had no idea what you had planned."
"I just wanted to do something really special for you Scully. I had no idea what I was getting into. It was a spur of the moment thing..."
Mulder sat in his office, seeing how many pencils he could get stuck into the ceiling. He was bored. It had been pretty quiet these last few days with Scully spending all her time at Quantico. Thank God, it was a short week. Tomorrow was Thanksgiving and they would be off for four days. They were planning to spend the long weekend together, since her mother had gone out of town. He couldn't wait. They hadn't spent that much time together, since they became a couple.
He wanted to do something special for Scully, so he decided he would cook Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie. He called her cell phone and asked her to come to his place the next day around 2:00. He said he had a quick errand to run in the morning but he would have lunch ready when she arrived. He wanted to make sure she wouldn't arrive before the meal would be ready. He knew she would never suspect that he would actually cook a turkey. She would probably be expecting pizza or Chinese takeout.
On his way home, Mulder stopped at the supermarket to buy the fixings for dinner. He picked out an 18 lb frozen turkey. It looked big, but he thought it would leave them with plenty of leftovers. They wouldn't have to cook the rest of the weekend. He had better things planned for them, than cooking meals.
He walked up and down the aisles trying to decide what he should buy to eat with the turkey. He bought Stove Top Stuffing, instant mashed potatoes, frozen green beans (Scully would expect some kind of green vegetable), a jar of turkey gravy, and jellied cranberry sauce (he had always liked that stuff). He picked up a pumpkin pie and a can of whipped cream. He thought about it for a second, and when an idea formed in his head, grabbed a second can of whipped cream.
He saw a stack of aluminum roasting pans. He thought about it and decided he didn't have anything big enough to hold the turkey, so he threw one in his basket. He mentally went over his menu and decided he had everything he needed. The girl at the checkout counter commented on his choice of turkey, guessing that he must be cooking for a large group and hoping he had enough time to thaw it out. Mulder wasn't listening. He was deep in thought about how he would pull this off.
As soon as he got home, he called the Gunmen to see if they knew how to cook a turkey. They put him on speakerphone and each threw out a myriad of ideas from cooking the turkey to stuffing it. They even detailed how to properly prepare giblet gravy (what the _hell_ is a giblet?).
Finally, Mulder had had enough of their advice. He said he would figure it out on his own, but before he could disconnect, Byers suggested checking out the Butterball website. He said they were bound to have all kinds of information on cooking turkey. Mulder had no idea such a website existed. He immediately booted up his computer and checked out the site.
The site was amazing. It had everything he would need to know about cooking turkey. It even had videos.
The first task was to thaw the turkey. He could thaw it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. 2-3 days? No way! There was a faster way that involved using cold water. That would be a possibility. He read further. "Are you left with no time to thaw your turkey? No thawing is needed for all natural Butterball Fresh Whole Turkeys". Now they tell him. It looked like it would be the cold-water method.
- Thaw breast side down in its unopened wrapper in cold water to cover - Change the water every 30 minutes to keep surface cold - Estimate minimum thawing time to be 30 minutes per pound for whole turkey
Wait! 30 minutes per pound? If that were correct, it would take 9 hours to thaw the turkey. Damn! It was almost 11:00pm and if he started now, it would not be thawed until 8:00am. Why in the hell had he bought such a big turkey? What had he been thinking? Obviously, he had been thinking about spending the weekend with Scully and nothing else.
Mulder filled the sink with cold water, placed the turkey in the water, and set the timer for 30 minutes. When the timer went off, he replaced the cold water in the sink and reset the timer. Every 30 minutes he repeated the procedure. Finally, around 1:00am, he began to fall asleep during the wait, only to be awakened by the ringing timer. He would no sooner fall into a deep sleep then he had to get up and take care of the turkey.
Around 7:30, Mulder figured the turkey was thawed enough and was ready to be cooked. He jumped back on the computer and looked up how to cook the turkey. First, he needed to know how long it would take to cook the monster turkey. It would take 4 1/2 hours to cook if he stuffed it and only 3 1/2 hours if it was unstuffed. Mulder opted for an unstuffed turkey. He studied the remaining steps, committing them to memory.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. - Place thawed or fresh turkey, breast up on a flat rack in a shallow pan, 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep.
He thought about how glad he was he had seen the pans in the store. He had never considered what he would have used to cook the turkey in. Pan...check!
- Brush or rub skin with oil to prevent the skin from drying and to enhance the golden color.
Oil? Mulder didn't have any oil. He had butter and that would be close enough. Butter...check!
- Insert oven-safe meat thermometer deep into the lower part of the thigh muscle, but not touching the bone. If unstuffed, the turkey is done when the meat thermometer reaches 180 degrees deep in the thigh; also, juices should be clear, not reddish pink when thigh muscle is pierced deeply.
Meat thermometer? They had thermometers for meat? Obviously, the one Scully had bought for him wouldn't work; it didn't go any higher than 106 degrees. What were his options? Well, he could run out and try to find one or do without it. He decided he would do without it. No meat thermometer...check!
- When the turkey is about two-thirds done, loosely cover the breast and top of drumsticks with a piece of lightweight foil to prevent overcooking the breast.
Foil? Dammit! He should have checked out this website before he went to the store. Think! Where could he get some foil? He remembered he had some leftovers in the refrigerator that were wrapped in foil. Thank you, Scully. Foil...check!
He returned to the kitchen and prepared the turkey for cooking. He first turned on the oven to 375 degrees. Then, he rubbed down the bird with butter, put it into the roasting pan, and placed it in the oven. He checked his watch...8:30. He would need to put the foil on the turkey at 11:00.
By 11:00, you could smell the turkey cooking. Mulder unwrapped the leftovers, set the foil aside, and threw away the leftovers. He carefully smoothed out the foil, but still managed to tear it several times in the process. He arranged the small pieces of foil over the top of the turkey, trying to cover as much as possible. Wouldn't want to burn our breast, now would we? He checked his watch...11:30. The turkey should be ready by 1:00.
While Mulder waited for the turkey to finish cooking, he decided to recheck the website to see if there was anything else he forgot. There were so many topics on the website. He decided to check out the 'First Timers' section and see how he had done.
- Determine how much turkey and stuffing you will need: Let Butterball do the math with the Turkey and Stuffing Calculator.
Oops...well he had missed that one. 18 lbs for 2 people was probably a bit much. He decided to see how much he should have bought. He entered the variables. Adults...2, children...0, leftovers...yes. He pressed the 'Calculate' button and it spit out the answer of 3 lbs. Wow...he guessed he would have a lot of leftovers. Maybe he could pawn some off on the Gunmen. - Prepare your shopping list: Save multiple trips to the store by Creating Your Own Shopping List.
That would have been a good idea. At least he didn't make multiple trips to the store. Of course, he decided to forego some of the items. Next time, he would make a list of everything he would need, including the elusive meat thermometer. - Thaw the Turkey: Refrigerator or Cold Water? Decide which method is right for you. He wished he had seen that one. If he had known and planned ahead, he would not have been up all night thawing out the monster turkey. Next time, he would buy a smaller turkey and would purchase it several days in advance. - Roasting to Perfection: Follow our Open Pan Roasting Method and Video for tender and juicy turkey every time. And learn where the meat thermometer goes and how to tell when the turkey is done.
There was that damn meat thermometer again. He would definitely have to buy one of those next time.
- Still looking for fail-safe preparation? Consider preparing a Butterball Fully Cooked Turkey.
He really wished he had seen that idea before now. He could have bought one already cooked or had dinner catered if he had planned ahead. He nixed the latter idea. He really wanted to cook for Scully. She was going to be so surprised and this would have all been worth it just to see the look on her face. He let out a satisfied sigh as he thought about her.
He shook himself from his daydream. He didn't have time for that. He had just enough time to grab a quick shower and set the table, before the turkey would be done.
At 1:00, he checked out his turkey. It was golden brown and looked pretty damn good, even if he said so himself. He took it out so it could...breathe...or was it rest...either way, it had to sit for at least 15 minutes before it could be carved. He figured it could lie there and rest until Scully got there, which would be in about 45 minutes.
It was time to cook the side dishes. He had four side dishes, which would require 4 burners and 4 pans. He had 4 burners on his stove, so that was no problem, but when he counted pans, he came up short. He found only 2 pans. Now what could he do? Not only would he have to cook 4 things using only 2 pans, but also he would have to keep everything warm until Scully showed up. He hadn't even considered that each of these things needed to be cooked on top of the stove and basically at the same time, so everything would be hot.
He suddenly had a brilliant idea. He removed the turkey from the roasting pan and placed it on a cookie sheet, since he didn't have a plate big enough to hold the massive bird. He would cook the stuffing and potatoes, put them in the roasting pan, and keep them warm in the oven, while he cooked the beans and gravy.
True to her word, Scully showed up at exactly 2:00. He opened the door and there she stood. He invited her in and took her coat. She was casually dressed in jeans and an oversized oxford shirt, with her hair pulled back into a ponytail.
"I thought we were just going to hang out and watch movies, so I wore my comfortable clothes."
"You look great, Scully, but you might be even _more_ comfortable wearing nothing" Mulder retorted, waggling his eyebrows for a lecherous effect.
Scully looked back at him, patting him on the cheek, "Maybe later...if you're a good boy."
Mulder gave her his patented puppy-dog look, "Ah, Scully, you know I am always a good boy. Maybe we can..."
She interrupted him, having noticed the smell of the food. "Is that food I smell, Mulder? Did you already order lunch?"
"Order? I'll have you know, I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for us...with my own hands."
"Well. I just assumed you would be ord...wait...what did you say? You cooked?"
"I _cooked_ . Turkey, dressing, and all the fixings."
"Mulderrrr", she purred, "I can't believe you cooked.... for me."
"Come sit down Scully and I'll put the food on the table."
Mulder retrieved the food from the kitchen. He put the dressing, potatoes, beans, and gravy in their own bowls. Scully watched with her mouth agape as Mulder brought the dishes filled with food from the kitchen to the table.
He brought out his turkey last and placed it in the center of the table.
Scully's eyes widened in surprise. "Mulder! How many more people are you expecting? That turkey would feed a small army."
"Yeah, I know...I...uh...I thought we could eat the leftovers this weekend. I figured we would be too _busy_ to cook anything. Besides, you'd be amazed how many leftover turkey recipes I found on the Internet. There's turkey chili, turkey nachos, turkey pizza, turkey pasta..."
Scully rolled her eyes, "Enough, Mulder...I'll take your word for it. You're beginning to sound like that guy from Forrest Gump."
Mulder proudly carved into the turkey and, as he hoped, it was done, even without the use of the meat thermometer. Scully and he ate their Thanksgiving dinner amid the occasional sounds of approval.
"Mulder, this is _really_ good. I am so surprised."
Mulder gave her a little pout, "Are you surprised because you weren't expecting it or are you surprised because it is good?"
"Both, I guess. I never expected you to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner. It was a great surprise and you did a damn good job. I'm proud of you."
Mulder smiled, "Thanks." He wasn't sure what made him most happy...the fact that it turned out so good or that Scully was proud of him. "Hey, I have another surprise. Close your eyes."
"Another?" Scully obediently closed her eyes.
Mulder disappeared into the kitchen. He retuned with the pumpkin pie and the two cans of whipped cream. He placed the pie and one can of whipped cream on the table, keeping the other can behind his back. "Ok, you can open your eyes."
When Scully saw the pie, her eyes grew wide, "Oh my God, Mulder, I couldn't eat another thing. Let's save the pie for later."
Mulder leaned in close to Scully's ear and huskily whispered, "Fine by me, Scully, because I actually had a better use planned for the whipped cream anyway".
Scully turned her face to look at him and broke into a wide smile, "Oh really, Agent Mulder?" She snatched the can of whipped cream off the table and said, "I have a few plans of my own." She stood and started backing toward the bedroom
Mulder also broke into a wide grin. He brought the other can of whipped cream from behind his back. "Oooh, Scully...I sure hope we're thinking the same thing. Come on...I'll race you to the bedroom..."
Mulder and Scully laughed as they remembered that Thanksgiving not so long ago.
"Mulder, did we ever eat that pumpkin pie?"
"Yeah...the next day...but we had to eat it plain, because we used up all the whipped cream on other things", Mulder said, reaching for her hands and waggling his eyebrows for added effect.
"Save it, Mulder." She rose from the table before he could reach her and disappeared into the kitchen. Mulder's arms fell to the table and he rested his head on them, letting out an impatient sigh. He could hear Scully moving around the kitchen, opening the refrigerator door. "Mulder? You want dessert now?" she yelled from the kitchen.
"Awww, Scully, can't we save the pie for later," pouted Mulder, not moving his head from where it rested. He had hoped the story would have reminded Scully of the time _after_ dinner, but apparently he had made her think of pie.
Scully returned from the kitchen with her hands behind her back. "I didn't say pie, Mulder...I said _dessert_."
He raised his head to see Scully bringing her hands from behind her back. In each hand, she had a can of whipped cream. A huge grin formed on Mulder's face.
"Come on, Mulder...I'll race you to the bedroom..."
Thanks: To Emmy and everyone at Mulder's Refuge who encourage my writing, to my Mom who is rapidly becoming my writing partner, and last but definitely not least, to Vickie Moseley, my absolutely fabulous beta.