Friday, November 21, 2008
Take it from the top
As I was tumbling thoughts on what to do for this post, I realized that Thanksgiving, that strange American holiday involving massive amounts of food to symbolize...uh...that we can buy and consume massive amounts of food, is on Thursday. Thanksgiving truly is my favorite holiday, because it's about giving thanks (and being the Luckiest Woman in the World I have much to give thanks for), modified over the decades to reflect what we really have to be thankful for, rather than the fairly inflated story of the Indians and Pilgrims Celebrating Their Co-mingled Work and Bounty...we all know what happened next. Not unlike this little snippet out of Wasilla, Alaska... yesterday.
Turkey, being big, even a small one is big, makes a great subject for inexpensive leftovers, as after that first slice into crackly golden skin is made, it all sort of goes downhill from there. The side dishes are really the stars of the meal and while the classics (green beans with almonds, sweet potatoes with marshmallows AND brown sugar on top - yes, we do like our sweeties - mashed white potatoes drenched in butter - we like our fats too - and then the pies...more sweets, more fats, creations of pecan, apple, peach, rhubarb, resting in graham cracker or flaky crusts...it's kind of bizarre) are great, something new and different is always wonderful too. Try something new and different.
Try a Tortilla de Patata. Super easy, Super cheap. You don't need to know Spanish.
Or, if that looks like too much go, wild, put roasted garlic in your mashed potatoes. You'll be glad you did.
The more I thought about it, I figured...anyone who makes turkey year after year does NOT need to know how to make turkey. And how hard is it anyway? It's just a big chicken after all. Though I am reminded of a time when a woman I knew asked me to check and make sure everything was ready to put in the oven (I was a kid, she was a GROWN UP, why was she asking me?). Looking at the turkey, I knew immediately; something was wrong. "Where is the stuffing?" I asked. She had no idea what I meant. So I untied the legs and looked into the turkey...and there was the bag of giblets...still in the bag. So, ok, everyone doesn't know how to make turkey. TAKE THE GIBLETS OUT OF THE TURKEY. They are like a little surprise! And they are an integral part of the stuffing, if you make it right (yes, MY way is right, period). The gizzard and liver and heart are minced and sauteed in butter with onion and garlic, lots of both, and then you toss it into Pepperidge Farm stuffing, the blue bag, and follow the directions. Easy. Then put it all into the turkey. Fun. The neck goes into a small pot of water on the stove, brought to a boil. It is for 'the cat'. Period. If you don't have a cat, someone you know has one. Your cat or theirs will thank you.
So, obviously, I am not going to tell you how to make a turkey. It's right there in your face, and probably even has a little plastic thingy that pops out when the turkey is ready. Make sure you don't trust the little plastic thingy! Instead, stick a knife into the joint between the thigh and the breast of the turkey (don't worry *no one will notice a thing* if you cover it with say, parsley...or turn it to the *other* side on the table). If the juice that runs out is clear, you are too. If it's...sorta pink, back in the oven it goes. Or solar cooker. Or grill, or whatever you are cooking the thing in or on. If you fry it in one of those deep vat things, I think the plastic thingy would be useless and maybe even melt, so I'd take it out. I don't like the plastic thingy, obviously. Get a real turkey.
I figure, next week I can write about what to do with turkey leftovers, and lots of other ideas. One of my favorite mornings at the cart was the day after a turkey holiday. A bunch of us always get together on holidays, each bringing something. I don't ever host it because I don't have an oven...among other things. So I never make the turkey and I never get leftovers. So there I am, sitting at the cart, thinking about leftovers I don't have, and along comes Ann in her jeep. She stops and holds out a turkey sandwich...a classic American turkey sandwich, I must add...white bread, cranberry sauce, stuffing and somewhere in there, a pile of turkey. I think there was butter on it too. Maybe mayo. It was an excellent breakfast! So there you go. Sneak preview of next Friday.