The holidays look different this year. My family isn’t having the big gatherings that we normally do, but instead we’re doing smaller, socially-distanced reunions. It’s quite devastating how much COVID has physically separated people from each other.

But my friends and I decided to have a small Friendsgiving the weekend before Thanksgiving. Since I have a big kitchen and dining table, I volunteered to host. Hosting, I presumed, meant I would be responsible for the meat. I had never cooked a turkey before, but I suppose there’s a first time for everything. So, I went to Trader Joe’s and picked up a bird. It was huge. 21 pounds to be exact. I had no idea what I would need, so I did the most sensible thing: asked both of my grandmas what to do and looked up youtube videos. They both insisted that I needed a “turkey bag” to keep the juices contained and the meat moist. Youtube assured me I had to have a meat thermometer. I realized that I would need a big roasting pan. This was turning out to require a lot more work than I anticipated, but I had already committed.

On the day of Friendsgiving, I knew I had to get the turkey started early. We planned on eating at six, so I got it started around noon.

I didn’t know where to start, so I just cut into the wrapper around the big bird. Thankfully, I had already placed it in the roasting pan because juice began seeping out. I managed to pull all of the wrapper off while keeping the juices contained. Next, I knew I had to reach into the turkey and get innards outs as I had watched on a video. I stuck my arm, yes my arm, into the bird and pulled them out. I decided I would not be attempting to make a gravy.

I made a paste to season the bird with that consisted of butter, garlic, and my homegrown rosemary. It took a lot to cover the entire bird, but I figured it was worth it.

After it was symmetrically smeared, I placed the turkey in the oven bag with chopped onion, took note of the time, and waited.

When the temperature was finally right, I pulled the turkey out of the oven. My friends were shocked at how big it was. I was anxious to see how it turned out, so I started pinching pieces off.

I was shocked at how delicious it was. It was juicy and tender – just like I had been going for. Everyone soon began picking at it while we waited on the casseroles to warm and the stuffing to cool.

Thankfully, I coaxed Baby Yoda into carving it. I wasn’t sure if I was up for that part. He managed to utilize every part of the bird and we gobbled it down during our feast.