I’M ABOUT TO MAKE CONFESSION that will likely land my name on some top-secret, un-American list, but I refuse to make turkey for Thanksgiving dinner ever again. For years I’ve attempted to achieve the holy grail of the Thanksgiving meal, i.e. a juicy turkey, but success always alludes me.
I’ve tried brining, basting, cooking it upside down, splaying it, stuffing it with butter and slathering it in Oil of Olay. No luck. It still tasted like a forkful of wood shavings. I’ve tried marrying it with duck and chicken, i.e., a turducken, but it was still drier than a dog’s dish in the desert.
I’ve even tearfully called the Turkey Hotline, complaining that my bird tasted like a relic from the Dust Bowl. The consultant said, “What did you expect? It’s turkey! If you want moist meat, make prime rib. Next!”
A few years ago the deep frying method came into vogue and I thought, what genius! Everyone knows that deep frying is the panacea to all culinary problems. You could deep-fry a tennis ball and it would taste delicious.
As I fired up the fryer, I could practically taste the moist breast meat melting on my tongue. After dinner I imagined my family hefting me on their shoulders, anointing me with Gatorade, singing, “Oh she’s a jolly good fryer!” The menfolk would be so grateful they’d proclaim, “Forget post-feast football. We’re doing all the dishes, even the casserole pans. Sit back and watch Project Runway.”
But, sadly, the deep frying method let me down. Admittedly the turkey was a little moister—like slightly damp wood shavings—but it never achieved the buttery, juice-spewing bird of my wildest imagination. After dinner I was alone in the kitchen with a jumbo box of Brillo pads, 10 gallons of used peanut oil and my dashed dreams.
This year I’m giving up on turkey and, yes, I’m expecting blowback. “It’s been a tradition for centuries.” family members might say. “They had turkey at the first Thanksgiving!” True, but they also had smallpox and scurry, and I don’t hear anyone banging the drum to bring back those traditions.
“But it’s so beautiful when it’s on the platter,” they’ll plead. No problem. I’ll send a picture of a glistening roasted turkey to all family members’ smart phones. That’s what most people are looking at during dinner anyway.
Yes, my long, fretful relationship with the turkey is over. Adios, big bird. I refuse to be seduced by any more silly methods to make you more palatable…
Wait a minute.
What’s that I see?
A recipe on Facebook for beer-in-the rear turkey? All you do is shove a can in the turkey’s behind, stick it in the oven and voila, moist insides with a crisp skin. Hey! That might be crazy enough to work. And if doesn’t, well, at least there will be beer in the house to wash down the dry bird.
Karin Gillespie wishes the Indians had shared cheesburgers with the Pilgrims. Visit her at Karingillespie.net .
This article appears in the November/December 2015 issue of Augusta Magazine.