PIAOR How: So You Want to Cook a Turkey Without Using Your Hands

by Jordy Greenblatt

(1) If you’re looking to set some kind of family record, I strongly recommend using your hands for the preparation phase. Some purists will tell you that it doesn’t count if you use your hands in the prep stage, but I think (based on the word ‘cook’) it’s a gray area and it’s still a pretty impressive accomplishment. If you are here because you don’t have functional arms, I would advise you to have a friend come over and do the prep work for you (it should only take them a few minutes anyway).

(2) Before prep you want to preheat the oven to 325 degrees. If it makes you feel better about using your hands in the prep stage, this is pretty easy to do with your mouth.

(3) Safety prep: Because poultry can have salmonella bacteria, always wash the turkey before you cook and then pat it dry. This step is particularly difficult without the use of your hands, because if you try to use your mouth, you’ll probably be more likely to contract salmonella than if you hadn’t even washed it in the first place. On that note, because you will be using your face throughout the process, fill a shallow bucket or small trough with high powered, anti-bacterial sanitizer for face cleansing.

(4) Food prep: Chop carrots and onions to fill the turkey’s cavity. This not only absorbs excess juice, but it provides the hard-to-reach inside with extra flavor. This is where using hands is most crucial. Many a brave cook before you has tried this step hands-free and many a brave cook has wound up crying salty onion tears from his one remaining eye.

(5) Now put those hands behind your back and get started! Use your feet to place a large roasting pan face up on the floor in front of the turkey. Hold the pan in place by firmly planting your feet on either side and pull your knees close to form an impromptu backboard. Slowly use your chin to pull the turkey over the edge of the counter and use your knees and the cabinets below the counter to guide the bird into the pan.

(6) Crawl like a snake on the floor and, using your forehead, nudge the pan so it’s directly in front of your sliced carrots and onions. You want the edge closest to the vegetables to be a few inches away from the counter. A good rule of thumb is to place it 1.5 inches away for each foot the counter is off the ground. Although it’s faster to kick the pan like a soccer ball, precise placement is crucial and you don’t want to risk foot-to-bird contact.

(7) Crouch on the floor and hold the pan firmly in place with your knees. Then use your nose to orient the turkey so that the cavity is straight up in the air, making sure any nose-to-bird contact involves only the bridge of your nose. Then submerge your entire face in antibacterial sanitizer for no less than 5 seconds.

Note: This step requires very flexible thighs and lower back. Also, that sanitizer is gonna burn in your eyes like Dresden. Nobody said it’d be easy.

(8) Using your neck, slowly sweep the vegetables off the counter towards the turkey. Your goal is to get as much as possible into the cavity, although a few pieces in the pan can be nice because they will cook better than the vegetables inside. Some will land on the floor. There’s really no way around that.

(9) Lying on the ground on your back, use your feet to grip the oven handle and pull it down. Then once again crawl like a snake and nudge the turkey gently until it’s directly in front of the oven. If the cavity is still facing up, carefully use your forehead to lay the turkey down for cooking and submerge your face in sanitizer for 5 seconds.

(10) This is probably the most difficult step. Lay on your back with your head facing away from the oven. The pan should be directly between you and the open oven door. Spread your legs and bend your knees as far as you can, preferably so that the heels are within 2 inches of your glutes. Placing your feet under the lip of the pan, press them together firmly, and extend your legs so that the pan’s edge goes over the door. Then slide the pan as far as you can along the door until it’s center of gravity is on the door and it can sit unaided. You may need to writhe around on your back for a while once the edge of the pan clears the oven door if your legs are too short or stumpy.

(11) Now place your toes on the edge of the pan facing you and ease it into the oven. If you can lift it onto a rack, more power to you, but probably you’ll have to settle for leaving the pan on the bottom of the oven. Sometimes you have to compromise for greatness.

(12) Leave the turkey to cook about 13 minutes per pound (12 if you didn’t manage to get a lot of vegetables in there). Every 20 minutes baste the turkey in its own juices and any butter you were able to unwrap using only your teeth. You can hold the baster between the toes of one foot while pressing the pump with the other. Alternatively you can place the entire pump in your mouth and pump with your tongue and cheeks.

(13) When time is up, grip a meat thermometer between your toes and, making sure not to touch the bird directly, check that the inner thigh is at least 165 degrees. Don’t take remove the bird from the oven until it reaches that temperature inside the thigh (away from the bone).

(14) Open the oven door and, with mitts on your feet, hook the lip of the pan with your toes to ease it out of the oven. Once it’s sitting on the oven door about a third of the way off, perform step (10) in reverse to get the pan out of the oven and onto the floor. Let the turkey sit for 15 minutes while your guests to sit down at the table.

(15) Gripping the sides of the pan with your still mitted feet, elevate it 6 inches to a foot off the ground and wobble on your back towards the dining room. Even if it means some extra wobbling, try to find a path without any doors in the way.

(16) Wobble triumphantly into the dining room. Your guests will probably be stunned. If so, you should break the silence with a clever pun like “all hands on deck for the S.S. Delicious Turkey… because I didn’t use them. My hands I mean.”

If you succeeded, you must be one hell of a chef (and probably a pretty good gymnast). Congratulations and happy Thanksgiving from the folks at Put It All on Red. I for one think you deserve a big hand!

Just in case it flew under the radar, that was another hand pun.