Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving is Coming: Turkey v. Sides

There have been many debates in America's history. Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists, Lincoln v. Douglass, Nixon v. Kennedy, Plaid v. Polyester, Heavy Metal Hair Bands v. Soft Rock*, Dan v. Dave, Coke v. Pepsi,  and Bieber v. Devil. But nothing incites such fiery rhetoric and mud slinging as whether or not Thanksgiving is all about the bird or all about the sides.

In America, when the Senate is deadlocked the Vice President gets to vote. America is deadlocked as to whether or not turkey or sides rule. I am the Vice President of this blog, so therefore I vote for Turkey. I love the Thanksgiving Turkey. Even if it is slightly dry, most often overcooked and above all a hassle, the turkey connects us to the agrarian hunter gatherer roots of our grandparents who had to shop for a turkey in such exotic sounding lands as Piggly Wiggly or Woodrow's Poultry Farm. My sister, Alexis, specifically looks forward to Thanksgiving because she loves "waking up to the smell of a turkey in the oven." Alexis doesn't cook so I have no idea where she wakes up on Thanksgiving morning.

Which brings me to my second point about turkey. Don't overthink this. I tell you this because I overthink how to cook the turkey every single year. This year, the methods I've explored include confitting the leg, sous viding the breast, pan frying the thighs, shish kabobing the gizzards, and using the skin to line a handbag.

Slight tangent-I've done some scholarly work in regards to frying the whole shebang and all I can say is this: it has no redeeming qualities that outweigh the hassle. The meat often comes out stringy and overcooked, the flavor is always bland unless you hit one of those pockets of injection driven salt water, and then you have 5 gallons of peanut oil to dispose of. Stop frying turkeys, please. I have nothing against the tradition of gathering around a roaring cauldron of heat and drinking beer while something cooks, just stating that frying a turkey is not the bees knees. It is a very long, expensive process to do something very simple, which is cook a bird.

Around Wednesday of next week, I will vacillate between making a brine, using a dry brine, or just leaving the turkey uncovered in the fridge (which will dry out the skin, the best part of any bird). I will begin making a brine and then realize the 6 gallon bucket I have is filled with dirt from a planting attempt gone wrong last April. This will lead to screaming, cursing, and hopefully drinking. Ahh, the Holidays are here.

Then there is the mess of how do you keep a 6 gallon bucket cold overnight. After weighing the option to just use one of those injectors, a disgusting, terrible invention that just creates pockets of over salted meat, I will likely consult the intranets and say a Novena to the Pilgrims. Finally, Lindsay will take over and say, "You know I roast the chickens in this house. I'm just gonna do it and it treat it like a large chicken."

She will make a butter spiked with chopped herbs, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and other accouterments. She will rub this butter under the skin and cook it til it "looks done". The turkey will be incredible. So far Lindsay is the only reason I can justify going to law school.

There will be a boudin stuffed turkey breast roulade a la Donald Link that will get seared on the grill before slowly smoking. I bet you $100 dollars we will forget about this bird. Halfway through the meal someone will wonder why the backyard is on fire. This will lead to screaming, cursing, and more drinking. As you can see, I do not follow my own advice.

Gravy. This is where I am glad I didn't brine a turkey. You see when you brine the turkey you are left with pan drippings that are too salty to use for anything other than attracting deer. But with Lindsay's turkey the pan will be studded with little burnt bits of carrot and onion, charred chunks of skin, and a sheen of butter. Remove most of the fat, then place this on the stove. Crank the stove, add some butter to the pan and touch of flour. Make a quick roux (about 5 minutes). Then pour in a healthy glass or two of white wine and scrape all this bits off the bottom of the pan. To this whisk in some hot stock. If you forgot to make stock last weekend, commence screaming, cursing, and drinking.

Pour into one of those gooseneck containers and hope no one cares at this point. If you did other things correctly, no one will. Next week, sides.


*Soft rock definitely wins. Why because Hall and Oates endures, while Ratt has slipped into the ether. Speaking of Hall and Oates, take a look at this video. That right there is nothing short of a profile of a duo who thinks at a specific moment in time, they can do no wrong. So let's pretend to be there when they conceived this video.

Daryl Hall- "Let's just sit there and look like assholes. I'll dress like the love child between Siegfried, Ziggy Stardust, and Tina Turner."

John Oates- "Cool. I have this tuxedo, some chick at the show last night ripped the sleeves off, but I still have the jacket with penguin hands."

Hall - "If we can just get some people to walk around us, like a girl, the short roadie in a devil costume, we'll fill in the rest with droopy eyes, stern looks, and throwing pieces of paper in the air. For Chrissakes, we are Hall and Oates we don't need to do much more than smoke cigarettes and be awesome."

Oates - "Pass the cocaine."

1 comment:

laurabeth1976 said...

This time of year, it is so important to know How to Cook a Turkey. You give some great ideas on how to find the right recipes to make your holiday both memorable and tasty. One amazing resource I have found is Better Recipes. They have so many great ideas for turkey, as well as for all the leftovers. While I now work for them, I use them all the time because they have an amazing supply of recipes. I would definitely recommend them.