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Etc - Turkey Day
10/30/2011 - By Eric Tucker
Spend Thanksgiving with Eric Tucker
Legend has it that my dad's family descended from a great race of Canadians. Eventually, they sought refuge from the Ontario winters by moving south and immigrating to Michigan. It was easier to farm ground frozen for only half the year than actual tundra. They suffered their share of discrimination, like any other Canadian-Americans just off the bus. One way they tried to assimilate was by adopting the local bigotry against you name it. Another was by celebrating an American Thanksgiving, albeit with a Canadian flair, at his uncle’s farm.
I think it was an uncle named Reuben. You can call him Rube for short.Anyway, this Rube would tie the Turkey’s head to a clothesline, not having a dryer. Then he’d behead the fatted beast with a clean shot to the gullet. The turkey with its head cut off would run around the yard like a chicken with its head cut off. Good times. The party was over for Tom Turkey, but just getting started for whoever got to clean his carcass.
During the Cold War our government sent the old man to Fort Dix and, ultimately, Fort Monmouth. There he learned you can get turkey at the store, which he made mom do every year. He never seemed more content than when mom was scrubbing down the kitchen while he sat with his belly full of turkey. (By then he was a Giants fan, and the Detroit Lions' annual embarrassment fazed him not.)
That’s the tradition we continue at home today. However, as we all remember from grammar school, the original Pilgrims left Europe for religious freedom. A similar legend has it that the European physicians were also bleeding them dry, in more ways than one. They sought refuge in Massachusetts, hearing rumors of universal medical coverage and a new species of leech. Sadly, they arrived four hundred years early and most Pilgrims died. The natives taught the surviving white folk how to grow corn to survive. In return, they received lethal doses of small pox.
Eventually, those surviving Pilgrims gave thanks to God and sat down to a dinner. The Pilgrims taught the natives how to pass the serving platters to the left, clockwise. Then they went on to establish health care based on the free market and made a mint for themselves! Thank you, indeed.
Simple steps in cooking a Thanksgiving turkey gleaned from our family’s experience: start by hoping to get invited somewhere else for the feast. Nobody wants to do all the work. Commence the game of chicken to see who in the extended family will break first and do the inviting. If you win, just bring a pie from one of Monmouth County's fine pie making establishments. If you lose, well then, you have to cook a turkey. We've only lost the chicken game once, limiting the first-hand turkey experience.Yet I'll do what I can to educate you on cooking turkey, as a public service.
First, consider cooking something else. The Pilgrims did not actually eat turkey. I think they had the cannelloni with some escarole sautéed with garlic and sprinkled with shaker cheese. It would have been Amerigo Vespucci's mother's recipe, which they could have picked up in Brooklyn on the way up the coast.
If you insist on the turkey, by all means, dismantle the smoke detectors. This will save your guests from panicking when the splatter in your formerly clean oven sets them off. Then put together a good play list, without regard for what others want to hear. You are now ready to cook the turkey.
Cook the turkey until golden brown.We saw a grown man, a professional with a master’s degree, move a turkey from the oven to the counter by sticking his hand in the cavity while complaining about what an airhead his wife could be at the same time. Don’t do either.
You’re supposed to let it sit before carving. However, usually all of the other dishes are ready to eat and the Lions are down by 29 points by the time it’s done. Just cut it and eat.
For me a turkey dinner is all about the side dishes, anyway. Put most of your effort there. The only reason to roast a turkey is to get the stuffing and gravy. So stuff the bird prior to cooking.Don't "forget" and then pull out the Stove Top. Stove Top is not what makes America great.
I have a hypothesis based on scientific certainty found right in the Good Book. "From the dust you came and to the dust you shall return.” What more evidence should I need for promoting the consumption of root vegetables?
Eat any combination of beets, parsnips, turnips, radishes, garlic, potatoes, carrots, onions, yams, sweet potatoes, kohlrabi, rutabaga, or celery root, which is not the root of a celery plant, but the root of some plant that looks like a celery stalk. That's an important distinction. Every time you go to the produce department you'll see a new root that the Latinos have dug up to boil and eat. Try them. These are all life sustaining edible roots.Another benefit: fiber - and lots of it.
This will help you process the cheese log you had before dinner.Whip a few roots together and add butter or mayo with bacon and enough turkey gravy to suit your taste.Wine throughout the day will keep your heart from stopping.
And help you deal with all the relatives in your home.
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