True Crime Thursday – How Not to Cook Thanksgiving Dinner

By Debbie Burke


Photo credit: TheKohser CC by SA-3

Happy Thanksgiving!

In case you haven’t yet put your turkey in the oven, here are a couple of new variations on cooking poultry—one legal, one illegal.

The legal technique:

Instant pots are the current go-to appliance for many meals but I hadn’t thought about trying to cram a turkey into one. According to this blog, apparently, it is doable.

Since today is True Crime Thursday, I’m compelled to also include the illegal technique:

This case involves chickens rather than turkeys. But I suspect, if enough alcohol is involved, someone will eventually try this with the larger bird.

Last August, Eric Romriell and Eric Roberts, both of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Dallas Roberts, of West Valley City, Utah, visited Yellowstone National Park. The three men are in their forties and fifties. Romriell is an ophthalmologist.

Photo credit: Clarence Alford-Pixabay

While there, they decided to cook dinner…by boiling two chickens in the hot springs at Shoshone Geyser Basin.

They were observed carrying cooking pots to a remote location. There, they put two whole raw chickens into a burlap sack and lowered them into the steaming water.

A park ranger responded to the location. When asked what their intention was, Eric Roberts answered, “Make dinner.”

The ranger probed further and inquired which one had come up with this idea. Roberts answered, “It was kind of joint thing.”


The article didn’t say but one guess is the “joint” idea was cooked up with the help of an unidentified adult beverage.

Earlier this November, the judge ordered fines of $540 and $1250 and banned the three would-be chefs from Yellowstone for two years.

No report what happened to the chicken dinner.


TKZers, what are your favorite culinary tips for Thanksgiving?


Today—and every day—I give thanks for the energetic, talented, and encouraging TKZ community. You make writing fun and I’m constantly learning.

Wishing everyone in the TKZ family a healthy and happy Thanksgiving!

This entry was posted in #truecrimethursday, Writing and tagged , , by Debbie Burke. Bookmark the permalink.

About Debbie Burke

Debbie writes the Tawny Lindholm series, Montana thrillers infused with psychological suspense. Her books have won the Kindle Scout contest, the Zebulon Award, and were finalists for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and Her articles received journalism awards in international publications. She is a founding member of Authors of the Flathead and helps to plan the annual Flathead River Writers Conference in Kalispell, Montana. Her greatest joy is mentoring young writers.

34 thoughts on “True Crime Thursday – How Not to Cook Thanksgiving Dinner

  1. Happy Thanksgiving!
    My chef brother’s turkey-cooking tip. Start at 425 for 30 minutes (450 if it’s a large bird), then drop to 325 for 30 minutes, alternating every half hour. Juices move up and down with the temperature changes and even the leftovers are juicy.
    My hint: since the juices stay in the bird, add water to the bottom of the roasting pan to avoid smoking. The turkey will probably be done in far less time than with the usual slow cooking method, which is handy if you have only one oven.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving, Debbie. An interesting post. I enjoyed reading about the creative, but illegal, technique for cooking a bird. Hopefully a few bears had a good Thanksgiving dinner that year.

    My favorite culinary tip for Thanksgiving: Stay our of the kitchen. My wife spoils me. She’s a great cook. And I stay out of her way. When we answer the perennial question before the meal, “What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?” My answer is always, “My wife.”

    When it comes to writing inspiration and education, my answer to what I am most thankful for is “All of the TKZ gang.” Wishing all of you a Happy, Healthy, Joyous Thanksgiving!

    • Steve, you’re a wise man, both for staying out of the kitchen and for appreciating your wife! Enjoy the wonderful dinner she prepares.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  3. This year, for the first time, I will be the prize turkey…I mean, I will cook the turkey—in my Traeger wood-pellet smoker (using cherry pellets for this one). We have dry-brined the bird and, if a previously prepared chicken is any indication, our bird will come out most juicy and flavorful. For this and the blessings of liberty we will be most thankful.

  4. Well that’s a creative way to cook a bird for dinner! My favorite culinary tip is to only cook enough to enjoy, no need to stress out about a lot of dishes and leftovers. A simple meal is fine and helps you zero in on the good stuff, like dinner conversations and green bean casserole and pumpkin pie!

  5. Happy Thanksgiving, Debbie. Thank you for the entertaining post, as always.

    I would say that the “joint thing” was inspired by a “joint.” That’s druggie logic, for sure.

    Thanksgiving tip: don’t melt shortening on a stovetop. Specifically, don’t melt shortening on a stovetop using a burner under a microwave, cabinets, etc. unless you want a visit from your local fire department.

    Have a great one!

    • The “joint” also occurred to me, Joe. Maybe they had a case of the munchies.

      Hmm, sounds like there’s an interesting story behind melted shortening.

      Have a great Thanksgiving!

  6. Happy Thanksgiving, Debbie! I’m grateful for you and the all the other wonderful bloggers at KZB, as well as the awesome community of writers here. KZB is a source of inspiration, knowledge of craft and crime, and solace, especially now in this pandemic year.

    My first thought upon reading the tale of the trio of would-be hot spring chefs is that I wouldn’t want to eat anything cooked in an acidic hot spring with goodness only knows what other chemicals might exist in that water. Like you, I suspect alcohol (or a certain smoked drug) was involved.

    My culinary tip for Thanksgiving is to try stuffing with wild rice, mushrooms, and celery (for extra crunch). This is my wonderful mother-in-law’s special Thanksgiving dish.

    I’ll be seeing her and my equally wonderful father-in-law via video today, between our respective Thanksgiving meals, so that we can see each other in person next year. I’m grateful for the technology we have now to be able to see each other even while being apart.

    • Dale, I also thought about the toxic poaching water. When they pulled the sack out, they might have found acids had already eaten away their dinner.

      Thank you for being part of TKZ! I, too, feel fortunate to be here.

      Have a wonderful day.

  7. Happy Thanksgiving to all at the TKZ community. I’m very thankful for all of you and all that I learn here, as well as the encouragement received as we all take this whacky writing journey.

  8. What is it with opthomologists and destroying nature? Lions, natural wonders. Who cares?

    My personal turkey cooking trick is to find one just right for my family, make a face, then go buy a meat I like, instead. Not a fan. Yesterday, I cooked some boneless chicken breasts in a little bit of liquid in a crock pot, shredded it, then tossed it in bbq sauce. It will be reheated for lunch.

    If you ever want to deep fry a turkey and survive the attempt, watch the GOOD EATS episode, “Fry Turkey Fry.” It’s not a job for an idiot with a beer in his hand.

    And a tip from my sister-in-law, a small animal vet. DON’T FEED TURKEY TO YOUR PETS! Vets dread the Thanksgiving weekend and the days after because it’s the biggest disaster time for pets. Turkey causes pancreatitis and the bones are internal disasters waiting to happen.

  9. Marilynn, a good friend is a retired ER doc who had many deep-fried turkey stories to tell.

    Thanks for the tip about turkey and pets. Who woulda guessed?

    Whatever you eat, have an enjoyable day!

    • FYI: I looked up some info about feeding turkey to dogs. The AKC says that plainly cooked turkey meat is okay in small amounts…it’s an ingredient in many dog foods. It’s how Thanksgiving turkeys are cooked that’s the issue. Seasonings, oils, butter, onions, garlic, and the stuffing…those are the ingredients that cause pancreatitis. We gave some meat to our dog last night and she was fine. But we don’t give her a lot of people food anyway, and I don’t put anything on my turkey except a little salt. Glad I don’t, now.

  10. Love the story of the three chefs, Debbie. Such imaginations!

    My tip: For years I’ve cooked the turkey the day before Thanksgiving, take all the meat off the bone, and store it. That frees me up to cook side dishes on Thursday. It may not be everybody’s cup of turkey, but it works for me. Another tip for cooking it: wrap it in three layers of foil, with some water or broth, crank up the oven to 500 and, depending on the size, set the timer for about 1/3 of the time you’d normally cook it. Comes out quick and juicy.

    We’ll be zooming today with 3 of our seven kids and my brother and his family…Texas, Oregon, Georgia, and here in our town. Hopefully, including nephews and about 15 of our 23 g-children will attend. (Maybe a wider screen will be necessary some day…)

    I’m thankful I found all y’all, and as Jim said, for the sweet liberty we still enjoy. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Deb, I too like to prepare as much as possible in advance so Thanksgiving Day isn’t so arduous.

      Sounds like you’ll have a full house–uh, monitor! Have a wonderful day.

  11. Thanks for the TG wishes, Debbie, and the story. Looks like everyone has rather foul comments this morning, so I’ll add mine. Brining. I wear brining makes all the difference when it comes to flavor and moistness. I add pickling salt to about 6 parts water to one part white vinegar in a heavy ratio where the salt is beyond the saturation point. Then, I put fresh cranberries in the blender and puree them into a paste, stick that in the brine along with a lot of cracked black pepper and a bag of premixed bird-herbs. In goes a washed bird with a bunch of the goo sloshed in the cavity and it sits cold overnight / 24 hours. Then, it gets washed again and sits on the counter for an hour or two before going into the oven. Terry – Your alternating temperature suggestion intrigues me!

  12. Great story, Debbie. Wish I could have seen that experiment.

    I also cook most of the holiday meal ahead of time so I can enjoy the day. This year there will be only three of us at the table, but it’s a beautiful day here in Memphis and we are aware of our great blessings of freedom and opportunity. It’s all good.

    Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for a wonderful year of TKZ.

  13. Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who give so much to us. Everyone in our home is recovering from COVID, so our dinner consists of Turkey Lunchables. But we’re blessed to have those. Enjoy your day and give extra hugs to those you love.


  14. Can’t wait for real hugs, Debbie. I always love your blogs. There is nothing more inspirational than hearing real life up and down stories from you guys. CJ

  15. Loved the chicken story. I also suspect a different type joint was involved. Or a lot of liquid firewater.

    Here in Northeast Mississippi, it’s a beautiful day. For the first time in at least 23 years, I cooked a turkey breast. I wanted to cook it in my rotisserie air-fryer, but I couldn’t find one small enough. Or that wasn’t in a cooking bag. But it actually turned out really well.

    I’m so thankful for this group! Y’all da bomb when it comes to sharing your knowledge.

  16. I think the idea of cooking those chickens in the hot spring was brilliant. I’m trying to figure out why it was stopped. I do wonder if the temperature of the water would have been sufficient to fully cook the birds.

    • Hahaha, Carl. Hot springs means *HOT* with temps from 198 degrees to 275 degrees. I expect the outside would be well done very quickly while the inside might still be raw. But I doubt those guys brought a meat thermometer to check.

      In another incident, a man broke through the crust near a hot spring, disappeared in the boiling water, and the body was never found. Not the way I’d choose to go!

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