Plea for a Thanksgiving Saturday


We broke with tradition this Thanksgiving this year in two ways, both good.

First, I finally gave in and fry the turkey. It was a great production, which I always enjoy. The opportunity to cook in an interesting new way doesn’t often present itself at this point in my life, and this is doubly true when the new way is interesting due to being absurdly dangerous instead of interesting because it’s a strange, expensive kind of molecular gastronomy thing.

Taking a bong filled with sage and thyme while eating turkey that has been reformatted into the look and flavor profile of a green chili cheeseburger is fine for the Alinea set, but I would love to see the one of those people lower a turkey into a pot of boiling peanut oil, then watch it nervously for an hour.

We first watched the Good Eats episode on Frying a Turkey in which Alton Brown memorably turns a turkey frying setup into something you would need Red Adair to put out. Armed with this sane fire safety parable, we purchased the recommended rig, 5 gallons of peanut oil, and a 15 pound turkey. In accordance with proper safety protocols, I thoroughly dried the bird for 24 hours before remembering that I was supposed to have assessed the amount of oil I needed to fry the bird using the displacement d water, which meant my diligently dry brined turkey needed to be soaked. in cold water before you can cook it. Is there a more ignored recommendation on Earth than “Read the instructions completely before you begin”?

As the oil heated above the roaring blue flame, I calmly cataloged every tragedy imaginable. My favorite disaster prevention measure was the handwritten sign on the back door handle that read “DOG CANNOT EXIT THIS DOOR UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE”. It was very official.

The oil reached 250 degrees, rising to a maximum of 350. It was time to lower the bird into the bath. There were a lot of stressful bubbles, but the oil did not foam and rise. Boil oil bubbles and broths but does not release steam like boiling water would, so the effect is a bit like watching a turkey in a jacuzzi. Fifty restless and nervous minutes later, we gratefully killed the flame and hoisted the turkey up.

Despite the stress, I might never cook a turkey any other way. The skin was beautiful. We should have removed it from the bird as a top coat and served it as a starter. In general, I’m not a huge fan of turkey, and that won’t make it in my top 10 for animal protein or anything, but next Thanksgiving I’ll probably be looking forward to the bird for a time.

In fact, Thanksgiving will be celebrated on Saturday next year. We did it on Friday before, to meet family obligations, but this year we pushed it back until Saturday, which was glorious. A big improvement over the usual First Thursday layout which turns a four day weekend into a three day weekend spent cleaning the kitchen.

Thursday we went to the dog park, watched movies and made pizza. On Friday we went to the very empty grocery store and the very empty Carnivore and did all of our groceries, made cornbread for the stuffing, made broth for the gravy, and had a very cold prep day. On Saturday, thanks to the Friday prep, we ran the meal early enough that we could roll over the leftovers that night and then had the best open-faced hot turkey sandwich ever on Sunday.

On a four-day weekend, you want to anticipate downtime. That’s my advice, and next year you’ll be grateful.


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