You know the holiday season is approaching when I’m bent over the sink trying to pry a bag full of giblets out of a mostly still-frozen chicken. Or turkey. Or duck. I can’t seem to remember to defrost my birds. This happens every year at least once.
Nobody else seems to have this problem because, really, how hard is it to remove your poultry from the freezer the night before? Or better yet, buy it fresh in the vicinity of when you want to cook it. What can I say, I’m not that organized.
One thing I've learned: don’t bother with the microwave, unless you'd like one steamy, overcooked drumstick with your frozen giblets. The best way to defrost a bird in a hurry is to place its shrink-wrapped frozenness into a bowl of warm water and let it sit, adding more warm water every so often. Water conducts heat faster than air, so you can defrost a meaty carcass in maybe a quarter of the time it takes to thaw it in the fridge or even on the counter. Two hours, if you’re lucky.
Two hours? I don’t have that kind of time.
On goes the faucet full-blast at its most blistering temperature. That’s more like it. It’s like a day at the spa for one lucky dead bird, he who gave his life for theoretical deliciousness. A little soak here, a little soak there. A bit too warm, you say? Don’t be a wuss.
Things seem to be progressing nicely, so I remove the wrapper and find that, no, actually the chicken is still pretty much frozen solid. Think, Tammy, think. How about a deep-tissue massage so the heat can really penetrate? A little to the left. Up a bit. Right there. Ahhhh.
By now, I’m experiencing that stinging sensation in my fingers that happens when you go from too cold to too hot too quickly. My engineer husband has also arrived on the scene to provide me with “helpful suggestions.” Things like “why didn’t you take the chicken out of the freezer last night?” Well, maybe if you could have torn yourself away from World of Warcraft for five minutes, we could have had a full-blown poultry discussion.
Everything is under control. Get out.
Suddenly, a day at the spa turns into a sort of reverse water boarding. If I just concentrate on defrosting the inside of the chicken, I figure, I can get the giblets out and just add extra time in the oven for the rest. I focus the faucet squarely on the chicken’s crotch. Not enough. I attempt to help things along by prying the giblet bag away from the cavity to make more room for the scalding water to work its magic. But the already defrosted section of the bag disintegrates in my hand and I’m left to pull out slimy organ pieces, one at a time. Was that a gizzard? A partial spleen?
Most of the bag is still rock-solid and fused within its bony cage. More hot water. More uncomfortable jabbing in a chicken’s nether regions. Twenty minutes later, the bag is out and I have one defeated and disrespected chicken on my hands.
This time I’ll learn my lesson, I swear. Until next year.