I just bought a holiday bird from Popeye's.
Supposedly, it's one of those "best kept secrets" the chain keeps on the down-low, because they've been selling (cooked but frozen) whole turkeys during the holiday season for years now. But have you ever heard of it? My family and I have bad Thanksgivings-at-restaurants karma - the only two we've ever patronized for that holiday have burned down (Brennan's and some forgettable place on Westheimer).
So it's kind of a pledge we've made not to ever go out again for that holiday meal. But that doesn't mean we can't bring in food cooked elsewhere, if our work schedules prohibit us from spending a week shopping, prepping, cooking and cleaning up. The trouble is, no one does a turkey as I do - with spicy dry rub. And forget about finding my mom's dressing anywhere else. These people with their white bread stuffing iterations!
I have high hopes this year, though, with Popeye's: "It's not deep-fried, " emphasizes Ron Jones, manager of a Popeyes store in Houston. "It's Cajun style."
The fully cooked turkey has been generously dry-rubbed and injected with Cajun seasonings - all you need do is re-heat it for about an hour and a half. We called parent company AFC Enterprises' headquarters in Atlanta, and the operator cautioned us not to write anything about it until we'd already bought ours: "It's first come, first served," she said. "You better make sure you get yours."
And by the time we made it to our nearest Popeyes store, at 4862 Willowbend, people were in line for it. One woman, there with her toddler and husband, ordered two (they're small birds; between 9 and 13 pounds each). She said they'd had it before and loved it.
Note to interested consumers: the Willowbend store is down to only "eight or nine" turkeys left, Jones said. In his three years with the company, he's never seen the program advertised; nonetheless, they always sell out.
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Vesha Fobbs, who works the line at that Popeyes location, cheerily wished us a great Thanksgiving. "I know you're gonna have a good one," she said, "because you'll be all up in there watching the football game" instead of cooking.
We appreciate the sentiment, but we'd much rather cook than do anything football-related - and now, we'll have more time to tackle our family's dressing recipe; white bread not allowed. However, some folks do crumble up biscuits for theirs, so perhaps that's another item to pick up along with the turkey.