That fateful November I stood with six other guys staring at a smoking pile of dirt in our youth leader’s yard. Buried in the dirt, lay our Thanksgiving turkey. Our leader had managed to convince us somehow that burying a turkey on top of coals in the ground was a good idea.
As one of the guys took a shovel to dig out the turkey, he noted that the ground above it was cold. Even though the ground (not to mention the turkey) was supposed to be warmed by the coals buried beneath, it was frigid. Despite this painfully ironic omen, we trudged on with the process. We managed to lift the turkey out of the ground without breaking the aluminum foil seal that we had created around the turkey. Sadly, this was perhaps the only thing that we would do correctly.
We noticed as were walking back to the house that the turkey continued to leak juices, which were supposed to have cooked off. Again, we just trudged on. We placed the turkey on the table with the highest hopes of success. After all, the turkey was only about twenty pounds, and the fire was probably hot enough before it was dumped in the hole. Surely, seven hours is long enough for a turkey of that size to cook? Well, with images of beautiful roasted turkey in our brains, we undid the covering around the bird.
Most people say that a turkey should be about 160 degrees Fahrenheit before it is safe to eat; our turkey was 120 degrees. Not wanting to be let down, we cut the turkey to look for ourselves and see if it was safe to eat. After all, most of those home meat thermometers are always off by about a few degrees, right? The color of the turkey was mostly white. “A little pink ain’t hurt nobody” is what we kept telling ourselves as we put the turkey on our plates. That was one of the biggest mistakes any of us had ever made. That night we learned the hard way that, yes, “a little pink can hurt somebody.”