Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Much ado about turkey

Thanksgiving is tomorrow.  Are you ready for it?!  Is there a turkey thawing in your fridge?  Do you have bread/cornbread going stale ON PURPOSE?  Is there an unusually large amount of butter in the little compartment in the door of the fridge?  Have you made sure your “roomy” pants are clean for the occasion?  Well, if not, you had best jump to it!  Time’s a-wastin’!

In our family, we do our best to play to each other’s strengths to divide and conquer the holiday vittles.  For the past six years, I’ve been on turkey duty.  The first year I was horrified that I’d kill the whole family.  I didn’t.  So, I got the privilege of repeating the next year.  And though the skin on the breast was a bit too brown, the actual meat underneath was still very good.  I knew at that point that I’d never be able to relinquish turkey duty again.  It was mine and will remain that way (expect for the years that we visit my husband’s family, that is).  

I don’t mind this duty too much.  It’s actually very simple, especially once it goes in the oven!  The hard part is getting it to the oven.  First, it has to thaw for days in the fridge.  Days.  Then you find that the neck and giblets are still frozen inside the cavity even after days of thaw.  I’ve never had one that wasn’t in six years.  Not a big deal, just means your fingers are going to feel like they’re going to freeze off your hands by the end of dressing the turkey.  

Now, I go SIMPLE for the turkey.  We like it traditional in our family.  And we’re southern, so we don’t stuff our birds.  Nope.  We like cornbread dressing, not stuffing.  So, that’s one less worry.  I find that an onion and an orange in the cavity along with butter under the skin of the breast with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rubbed sage all over the bird is all it really needs to be traditionally delicious.  I cook my birds in an oven bag to save myself the haste of basting.  No one has complained, and the turkey is always moist.  So I do not see any need to mess with a good thing, even if some people find the bags to be cheating.  I’m okay with simple.  

What?  You’re shocked to see butter on that list, huh?  Why?  It’s the holiday, and no substitute will do what butter can in that case.  So, I use butter.  It’s less than a stick for the whole bird, and I think it adds quite a lot of flavor.  Believe it or not, I don’t try to make everything as healthy as humanly possible on the holidays.  My family would HATE that.  I don’t want my need for all things healthy and organic to alienate my family during the holidays.  So, the things that it would kill me to make “traditionally”, in this case it’s the mashed potatoes that I know have more butter than is in the compartment in the door of my fridge, I let someone else in the family make.  That way I can eat just a little without having a coronary (pun intended) over how fattening they are, and everyone else in the family can just enjoy some of the world’s greatest mashed potatoes because that’s not something they obsess over like I do.  No, instead of changing tradition, I simply try to limit portions.  It’s easier than forcing my entire family to eat they way I chose to on a daily basis.  I’m the odd man out, so I feel I should bend for them.  Not vice versa.  

And besides, it’s the holiday.  One day.  One day celebrated with all my nearest and dearest.  It’s worth the butter intake.  

And yeah, I’ll sneak in a few healthy dishes too.  Just not the mashed potatoes.  

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