BACK THE HECK OFF MY THANKSGIVING!
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of them all. Yes, it even edges out the big traditional Christmas by just a touch. It's totally food based, which is so my wheelhouse. It's about being together, and cooking, and eating, and I'm sure you're supposed to be thankful at the same time, which is sort of hard to do at about 2pm on Thanksgiving day when you're snoring like a freight train in front of the football game while some unlucky family member is STILL washing dishes. But seriously. Thanksgiving is the best holiday, and Christmas needs to stop glomming all over it.
|By Jamain (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons|
I saw my first Christmas commercial BEFORE Halloween this year. The rage crept up my spine and I had to contain myself from chucking something very heavy at the TV. When someone starts singing or humming a Christmas carol around me, I've taken to yelling, "TURKEY SAYS BACK IT UP!" It makes them laugh, cause they think I'm kidding. I'm so not.
I have worked retail, and I know how important the gift-giving season is for some businesses. So I don't begrudge SOME pre-turkey day advertising. But you're taking it too far, guys. You're stepping all over my favorite day, and that's not cool.
Christmas is a stressful time for a lot of people. Whether or not you love it, you can't deny that there's a ton of pressure to find the perfect gift, to make sure to remember everyone you're supposed to be exchanging with, to exert the right amount of gratitude even if the gift you were given sucks, etc. The decorating can take forever, the sneaking around to get big presents hidden without their intended recipient noticing, gosh, I'm giving myself hives just thinking about it.
In comparison, we have Thanksgiving, the king of all holidays. Giant meal? Check. Stress? Nope, not as much. Cost? When you split up the grocery-shopping like my family does, it's not that bad at all.
A year or two after I got married, I decided to make The Turkey for our Thanksgiving. My grandmother, who was a wonderful cook, used to always bake the turkey. But it was your typical put it in the oven at around 3AM and cook it til noon kinda thing. You know, the way everyone used to do turkey. But I decided I was going to do it differently. We'd been deep-frying or barbecuing our turkey since Nana passed away, and I was craving the traditional roasted bird. So I cannibalized about seven turkey recipes and raided my cupboards, and this is the result, which my father dubbed Frankenturkey. And to us? It's the best roasted turkey there is.
So keep your carols to yourselves, and let's talk turkey, shall we? :)
GINA'S THANKSGIVING FRANKENTURKEY
For the Brine, you will need:
1 turkey, any size
a large cooler (I like the big round water coolers for this, but a rectangular works fine. I've used both.)
enough water to cover the bird
Kosher or Sea Salt (a little over half-a-cup per gallon of water)
whole black peppercorns
(Note: whatever fresh herbs you like to cook with? Use those. This isn't written in stone, people. It's Frankenturkey, not do-it-the-same-every-time-turkey.)
Get your sister to come over on Wednesday night, and make a pitcher of margaritas. Trust me, it goes much smoother this way. Put one gallon of warm water in the bottom of the cooler. Add all other ingredients except the turkey. (Be generous with everything. Trust me, it'll be good.) Tell the poodle to GET OUT OF THE WAY, NO YOU CAN'T EAT THIS. Add cold water and a ton of ice, then submerge your bird and giblets, if you want. Add more water and ice til the bird is covered, then lid that sucker up and get your husband to lug it out to the garage if you and your sister are too tipsy to manage it. High five, then finish your pitcher.
To Bake the Turkey, you will need:
To get up at o'dark thirty and lug said turkey to your parent's house for baking. Feel free to skip this step if you're not eating at your parent's house.
1 medium or large onion
1 rib of celery
Take the turkey out of the brine and rinse it thoroughly. Pat dry. Put a small amount of poultry seasoning in the body cavity. Cut up your veg and stuff it in the hole, along with your torn-up fresh herbs. Sprinkle more poultry seasoning over the veg, then pour some white wine down in the cavity. Then schmear the outside of the turkey with butter. COVER IT totally. Trust me. It's Thanksgiving, you can diet tomorrow. Sprinkle all over liberally with poultry seasoning. Splash some more wine over the top.
Place it in a roasting pan breast-side-up. Roast it at 500 degrees (!!!) on the lowest rack for half an hour, then remove the turkey and put a double-layer of aluminum foil over the breast section. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Put that sucker back in the oven and roast til it's 180 degrees in the thickest part of the breast. This usually takes a couple or three hours at most, depending on the size of the turkey. But keep a check on the temp! This is where one of those remote oven thermometers comes in super-useful!