Thanksgiving is the opening salvo of the holiday season. Starting from Thursday and running to January 1st, our lives belong to the Awkward Family Dinner Industrial Complex.
While some of us get the day off, many of our brothers and sisters in arms will be serving Thanksgiving Dinner to other people’s families. We’ll be lifting a glass to all those working, but here are a few thoughts for those who are lucky enough to be cooking at home.
The Do’s and One Don’t of Thanksgiving
Spatch Cock the Damn Turkey
This is a preparation method usually reserved for small chickens and game birds, but it works just as well on whole turkeys. The advantages are immense – ease of cooking not being the least. You’ll also be way less likely to dry out the turkey, as spatch cocking ensures even cooking temperatures throughout the bird. Plus you get to say “spatch cock” a lot. Check out this recipe endorsed by one of our nation’s most notorious felons.
Brine the Damn Turkey
Brining should be second nature to most of us by now, but if you brine your turkey you are guaranteed to blow your family’s ever-loving-minds. Years of dried out turkey traumas will be forgotten and replaced by your brother-in-law’s complaints that the bird is “just too salty.” Luckily, his earlier monologues on the importance of building a wall along the North Dakota border will invalidate any of his opinions. For an excellent brine, check out my boy Alton Brown.
Debone the Damn Turkey
The #1 issue with cooking turkey is it gets dry. This is really a consequence of our overwhelming need to roast the bird whole just so your uncle can fight with your dad about how to best use the electric carving knife they bought at a church charity sale in 1987. There is literally no other point to roasting the bird whole. In fact, since the different parts have different amounts of fat content, this is just setting yourself up to fail. The solution? Debone the turkey, and wrap it around the stuffing.
Screw it, and Concentrate on the Sides
Thanksgiving is the Carrier Battle Group of feasts. The turkey is the main event, but for the most part the meal would utterly fail without its accompaniments. A very effective strategy I ascribe to is to let others handle the damn turkey and bring a side dish instead. This way I can outperform my sister’s attempts of making the world’s largest lump of turkey-jerky and get all the praise for my savory leek and parmesan bread pudding (as a bonus I get to outshine the stuffing too.) Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a strong dose of passive-aggressive posturing.
Fry the Damn Turkey. Just Don’t.