Firey new ways to liven up Thanksgiving 

Settling the turkey kitchen wars once and for all

I think it was CBC Radio’s Shelagh Rogers who once commented that the cooking of the Thanksgiving turkey can cause family feuds that last generations. At the very least it can be the source of a few sticky moments or a good kitchen row before everyone sits down to eat.

Like when you go to check on the old bird, and you’re type A sister-in-law pushes you aside. She ditches her glass of wine for a salad fork and the bread knife to try and rotate the 22-pound sucker in a pan that’s way too small because your really big roasting pan is still down in the basement somewhere filled with the rest of the stuff you couldn’t get rid of at your last garage sale.

Oh nooooo, she instructs, you’ve got to cook it breast side down so it doesn’t dry out, ignoring the big swaths of skin that have already seared themselves onto the sides of the pan, so that after tugging and tugging old Tom finally gives way in a big shoosh, splashing brownish turkey fat and juices all over her Juicy Couture.

If you haven’t got the dressing made by the time everybody arrives, look out. This, if my addled memory serves me right, was the biggest source of friction in the Rogers clan, which was hotly divided on the inclusion of chestnuts or no.

Then there are the die-hard camps on, A) moisture levels: it has to be wetter – you made it really dry last year. No way, I hate gucky dressing. B) Seasoning: you’re putting in way too much marjoram and onion. Marjoram? Never, never use marjoram with turkey. It won’t stand up to it. And, C) mainstays: Did you use sausage? I love sausage. Gross, don’t you dare put any sausage in it – Jeremy won’t look at anything that’s even touched pork fat. Did somebody say organ meats? What the hell are organ meats?

At this point, you’d be well advised to grab your glass of wine and slink out to the deck for some fresh air and let the rest of them figure it out.

But somehow it all comes together and down you sit to a dinner that always seems to work out, no matter how things are done.

That is unless you were one of the two dozen or so unfortunate families in the U.S. last year whose homes burned down – in total or in part, sending dozens of people to hospital – because deep frying the turkey turned Thanksgiving into a really heated occasion.

When I first heard this story, I thought it was one of those urban myths, like cooking a salmon in your dishwasher. But turns out that while both are legitimate cooking options, deep fried turkeys are a really big deal, at least in the southern U.S., capital of everything fried. Even the likes of Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse have been touting the technique in the farther corners of North America where such culinary techniques are relatively unknown.

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