The kids are in bed and I have ten papers on Herodotus and Thucydides left to grade and nine pages left to write by 4:00 PM tomorrow on a 1593 century tract by Thomas Nashe entitled Christes teares over Ierusalem wherunto is annexed a comparative admonition to LONDON, which is based on a 1558 translation of a Hebrew document, itself an 11th century translation of Rufinus Aquileus’s bad Latin translation of Flavius Josephus’s Greek account of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem…but such obligations must be postponed to begin my annual preparation of a turkey.
(Vegetarians may want to avoid what comes below the fold)
Thanksgiving begins early around here. A smaller crowd expected this year, instead of a 22-25 lb. bird I begin with a modest 15 pounder. Turkey bag is placed inside a second turkey bag inside a large garbage bag in a large roasting pan. In a bowl I mix 750ml of the cheapest bourbon available (Old Crow this year), 1.5 qts. of cider, two bottles of any beer on hand, a generous amount of herbes de provence, some lemon and pepper, black pepper and 1/4 cup of salt (we use a kosher bird, so the salt needs to be cut as it is pre-brined as part of the koshering process and otherwise one risks VERY salty white meat).
Turkey is rinsed well and drained, then placed inside the bags. Liquid is poured over the turkey and the bag is drawn as tight as possible around the bird and tied. The second bag is tied even tighter around the first to keep the liquid around and inside the bird. The garbage bag is then tightened and twisted around both. The turkey is now placed as firmly as possible in the corner of the roasting pan and back onto the bottom shelf of the fridge. Roughly every six hours, I agitate and turn it.
On Thurs. morning by 7:00 AM, I remove it from the fridge, drain and set to come to room temperature. I then chop one whole lemon and half an apple, split five shallots and five cloves of garlic, mix with olive oil and herbs and spices. Then I rub the outer skin of the turkey with the mixture and place the rest inside the bird. I take a sheet of aluminum foil and wrap the outside of the breast tightly (tenting is ineffective as the moisture escapes the breast). Outside, I light the first batch of hickory and apple chunks in a chimney starter with newspaper. When three loads have been lit and placed on either side of the barbecue, I place a large foil pan between the fires with some water and white wine in the bottom. At 10:00 AM, the bird takes its place, breast up and we are on our way. I baste every hour and maintain the hot smokey wood on either side of the turkey. At 1:30-2:00 PM, I remove the foil from the breast. By 3:00 it should be done and may be removed to continue cooking on the kitchen table (internal temp. continues to rise after removal, of course). I carve around 4:00.
Happy Thanksgiving to all Moose.
PS Though the crowd will be a bit smaller this year, the bonus is that I get to meet my 3-month-old nephew Simon finally, whom I have yet to snuggle. We’ll see if the bonding begins between him and my 6-month-old daughter Tzipora. Either way, the spectacle of them should be lovely.