Thanksgiving May Come First, But the Bird Placed
It was brilliant and took either a little over an hour or 7/8 ths of a dirty martini to cook, depending on what yardstick you happened to be measuring with. Personally I'll lean towards the latter because if you have to go shaking a second before dinner's on the table you have a problem and better check the oven that your souffle isn't indeed formed of errant Cheerios. On the other hand if you can whip dinner into shape and still have half a glass left, you're eating take out. Admit it. Put the "King Vinnie, Prince of Chinese" cartons on the table and come clean.
This was the first Thanksgiving day since 2005 when the flu grounded me alone at home with grilled cheese sandwiches that I didn't stress in some way about the day's meal. But that is not to say we eschewed tradition nor did we ignore the feast. We just put it off one day to make room for an additional family member.
If food is like war, then the Thanksgiving day meal was sort of like landing in London in 1942. Yes, there's evidence of bombing but you're still at the pub with blackout shades drawn and a pint in hand. Combat can be taxing.
Friday on the other hand found the pub closed and your 101st ass in a Dakota over Normandy praying to Jesus for it to succeed.
In other words, Thanksgiving dinner was going to be prepared. Five dishes and a turkey to be cooked to perfection in just under three hours. Sorry, where was that jump into France assembling again?
The dirty secret about Thanksgiving is that the meal is a rank impossibility to pull of at any level of skill because the freaking American Turkey is well nigh the most impossible thing to cook that has ever inadvertently wandered into an oven. Over the years I have cooked birds that have roasted themselves to a dryness that would pucker the Sahara. Despite basting the little bastard in enough butter to sculpt a 1:1 replica of Mount Rushmore in. There have also been birds that simply refused to cook. That browned nicely outside but when poked with a meat thermometer you'd swear it stuck a wing in to hold the needle to about a hundred degrees for hours. Football games would be played, won or lost, families on the block would set out and return from post meal walks, the evening movie would start to run and this thing was still edging to 112 degrees if you blew your warm breath on it.
Not so this year though. This year we had an overachiever who was supposed to cook breast down for two hours and then be flipped to roast to a golden brown for another 45 minutes, yum yum.
Flip him at two hours and the meat will pull off the bone such that you'd better put on some reggae, get out the cayenne and announce "jerk turkey" in a hurry if the meal is going to look like anything other than a car accident involving fowl.
No dice, this critter was done and the 100 meter dash of vegetables and starch was on. Get it on a plate looking like something other than an amalgam of colors and textures was the challenge.
Next year I'm doing the Chinese buffet thing. That, or grilled cheese sandwiches.