Turkey-Day Countdown: Blooper edition

Tribune reporter

You’ve made it through Thanksgiving and it’s on to the leftovers. Did you stumble into a culinary pothole or two? Maybe the pumpkin pie didn’t firm up? Or maybe you over-nuked the broccoli into limp, squishy oblivion? The Stew team can sympathize: been there, done that and lived to tell (and laugh over) our culinary calamities.  Read on. Got a story to tell? We'd love to hear it.

"After sampling my brother-in-law’s smoked turkey (fabulous), my husband and I decided to clean the cobwebs out of our smoker and give it a try for Thanksgiving one year. A dedicated rule-follower, I carefully read the instructions that came with the smoker and briefed my husband, who fired up the smoker. After a couple of hours, my husband wanted to check the bird’s status but I was adamant: The instructions very clearly stated NO PEEKING -- opening the lid would throw off the cooking time, carefully estimated by the bird’s weight, etc. Ninety minutes later, my husband insisted on checking the bird’s progress. He lifted the lid and voila! There sat a bird that had been smoked into a turkey-shaped charcoal briquette. There wasn’t an edible bite to be had. Fortunately, I had popped a turkey breast in the oven as a backup. But dark meat lovers were out of luck. Unless, of course, they liked their meat really, really dark. And bone dry." — Denise Joyce

"I decided to snazz up the pumpkin pie by adding a walnut topping. Which I then burned. I tried to scrap it off and put a new one on, but I just ended up with a heavy, inedible mess." — Linda Bergstrom

“It was 2003 and I was hosting my first Thanksgiving for my mom and siblings at my home. I was boasting about my organic bird that I’d brined in a cooler full of ice, seasonings and water for a day and then roasted until the meat thermometer in the leg hit the right temperature. Perfect, right? Not really. Once my brother started slicing it, we noted that the meat was still super pink and, well, kind of raw. My cruel sister started dancing around the kitchen taunting me about my raw turkey as I raced to the microwave with a platter of meat to nuke out the pink. I’m still not sure if it was over reliance on a thermometer or not giving the bird enough warm up time between the cold brine and hot oven. But I now avoid those two mistakes. And my sister, now living in California, is around for few Chicago Thanksgivings.” — Monica Eng

"One year I decided to grill the turkey, directions not necessary, thank you, because I had grilled many a turkey before and quite nicely, too. I plopped the bird on the grill and plopped myself in a chair with a large tumbler of Johnnie Walker Black. I got up now and then to check on the turkey – basting it a bit, adding more charcoal, moving it about. And, of course, that meant more Johnnie Walker and more conversation and and and...So. I basically mummified that bird. I stabbed a carving knife in along the drumstuck and the leg flopped over to reveal a dark brown shell of skin containing dried up whisps of flesh. The table grew strangely quiet. The side dishes were delicious – I think." – Bill Daley

"I always know better than the package directions (Hah!). And I've made fresh cranberry sauce many times: You mix 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar, heat it up and toss in a bag of cranberries. So I did. It simmered. I decided it looked too runny. I added more sugar. Tasted too sweet. I added more fresh berries. I let it chill overnight in the refrigerator. Too gooey. Made a fresh batch Thanksgiving eve. Followed directions to the letter. Will do so from now on. Promise."  -- Judy Hevrdejs

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