First, Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and may your holiday be a good one. We may be getting a nice feast out of it, we may be helping our fellow Maderans by helping provide nice feasts to those who might not have the where-with-all to provide their own.
Here are some suggestions to follow when cooking your Thanksgiving bird, courtesy of Good Housekeeping magazine:
(1) Plan for a long thaw — at least 24 hours for each five pounds of turkey. That thaw should take place in a refrigerator, not at room temperature. In other words, for a 15-pound turkey, be ready to thaw the gobbler for three days.
(2) Use plenty of seasoning. Start out by rubbing the bird with olive oil or softened butter. Use sage, salt and pepper liberally, although not too much salt if your doc told you to cut back. Rub in a little crushed garlic.
(3) Use a rack to set the turkey on. If you don’t have a rack, line the bottom of your roasting pan with carrots and celery, or set it on thick slices of onion, or use all three.
(4) Start roasting with an aluminum tent over the bird; remove it after about an hour, and your turkey will be juicier, and still nice and brown when it is done. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh near the bone reaches 170 degrees. You don’t want to undercook a turkey. Some turkeys come equipped with a popper that pops out when the turkey is supposedly done. Don’t trust it. Use the thermometer.
(5) Allow the bird to rest a certain amount of time after taking it out of the over. Allowing it to rest lets the moisture in the bird redistribute. If you do this, the meat is less likely to be dry, and the bird won’t over-cool. Recover it with the aluminum tent you took off and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.
(6) Carve the turkey at the table if you can. Remove the wishbone at the top of the breast. Carve down one side of the breast bone, which makes it easier to remove the bone. Then slice the breast against the grain and arrange them on a warm platter.
That’s one way to prepare a turkey, and it is almost foolproof. But a lot of goofy recipes claim to provide the best turkey. I wonder whether that is true.
I knew a fellow in Seattle, a newspaper columnist named Emmet Watson, who used to swear by a method he learned that he called Thompson’s Turkey.
It involved seasoning the bird and stuffing it, then covering every part of the turkey with raw biscuit dough. He would then put it in the oven and let it bake until nearly black. He said the blacker the better. Then he would knock the blackened biscuit chunks off and bake the turkey a little longer.
The turkey was golden, juicy and aromatic, and tasted like heaven, he said.
I never tried it, no matter how good he would say it was, because it seemed liker a lot of work and cleanup.
There are other Thompson’s Turkey recipes, and Emmet tried most of them over the years.
He said they were all good.
Don’t talk yourself into deep-frying your turkey, or you might burn yourself or set your deck on fire.
Or, go to a restaurant that stays open on Thanksgiving and serves a lovely dinner for a reasonable sum. And the restaurant staff does the cleanup. I recommend leaving a nice tip, and taking home enough leftovers for at lease a couple of days worth of sandwiches.