Kitchen Confidential: Preparing Thanksgiving With a Wife on the Turkey Talk-Line

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I have made myself a note on 8 ½ x11” paper to be placed at the foot of my bed – “THAW TURKEY.” If I forget to thaw my turkey in cold water, I may have a problem the next afternoon.

My wife is Mary Clingman – Director of the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line. Since she will be up and out the door on Thanksgiving at 5 a.m., ready to help thousands of Thanksgiving cooks on the busiest day of their year, I am on my own getting the turkey into the oven.

I am a veteran at this task. I always purchase the turkey two weeks prior to Thanksgiving to ensure the perfect size is available for me at the store. I know that using a meat thermometer is critical (180˚ in the thigh for not overcooking the turkey). I’ve become a pro over the years and can even say that I’ve never overcooked the turkey. Not only do I cook the turkey, I make homemade cranberry sauce “from scratch”. (“From scratch” is a good phrase to drop if you want to impress people). One cup of boiling water, one cup of sugar, and one bag of cranberries; what could be easier? Also check out this Orange Cranberry sauce recipe for another version of the classic.

Kyle 4 TG

The Butterball Turkey Talk-Line has saved the day for many cooks – males and females alike, including our son Scott. Twenty some years ago, Scott, while at the University of Illinois, started the tradition of having a turkey dinner for students, many of them from different areas, to celebrate Thanksgiving. He called the Turkey Talk-Line, looking for his mom. “How do you keep the turkey from catching fire from all the drippings on the bottom of the oven?” It seems that he placed the turkey on a flat cookie sheet versus a shallow 2½” roasting pan. This year, 25 years later, Scott will be coming in from Houston with his family for Thanksgiving. We’ll see if he has learned anything from his cookie sheet-days.

Over the years our family has grown, and now Thanksgiving consists of 22 big eaters. Delegation became increasingly important if the guys wanted to watch all three football games – I’ve mastered preparing the turkey to the point where I’m able to get in all of my football watching.


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