Let me ask you seriously: what would your Thanksgiving turkey have to do to win a pardon from you? I mean, NO TURKEY FOR YOU THIS YEAR. You’ll make do with sliders, or Filet o’ Fish sandwiches, or tofurkey instead of that lovely, lovely bird with the tasty, tasty drumsticks. You still get the stuffing (dressing, technically), the mashed potatoes, the rest of the holiday hooplah, but no turkey.
This is weirdly brilliant, in the way turducken is weirdly brilliant. It’s nice to see some respectful innovation around traditional holiday meals, while still putting a kooky, 21st-Century, I-wouldn’t-do-it-but-Reddit-will-go-apeshit-for-it slant on things.
This is nothing less than a Thanksgiving cake made out of ground turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and yams, and frosted with mashed potatoes. Here’s your recipe, don’t all click at once!
Before you laugh, remember the hottest item in the gourmet’s arsenal over the past few years has been flavoured foam. We are obviously cooking in the time of Surrealism, and this is a perfect, and not difficult, iteration of the meme. And think about it; this would be darn tasty. It’s basically just a vertical, poultry-based Shepherd’s Pie, and who doesn’t love Shepherd’s Pie?
Up here in Canuckistan we’ve long since had our Thanksgiving (we have to get it over with before the weather changes and the only people on the roads are Ice Truckers) and it generally features a simple roast turkey, generally stuffed with bread cubes, celery, brandy-soaked raisins, old doll parts, Monopoly dice, and anything else Mom finds in the bottom of the junk drawer. It’s quite a fun tradition, really: if you get the Barbie head, or roll snake eyes, you get to make a wish on the moose antlers. After the meal and the ritual round of butter tarts, the whole family compliments the cook and then sneaks out the back way to Timmy’s, where they can at least get good coffee.
In Yankistan, I understand things work a little differently. Not only do you wait till nearly mid-winter to express your gratitude for the existence of pumpkin pie, but apparently you people like to celebrate the holiday by making turkey pickles, then deep-frying them.
This confused me until I watched the following video, and now it all makes sense. I, too, like to celebrate special occasions by having a few firefighters over to the Global HQ, and this looks like the best way to guarantee they’ll actually show up.
Now that import restrictions are so … restrictive, one must resort to creative ways of getting one’s most precious items across borders.
You can just put the laptop into the checked luggage, but don’t let THIS baby out of your sight. You know what they say: keep your friends close, and your andouille closer.
Beware the Ides of February, the Roman feast of Lupercalia subsumed by Christian doctrine into the festival of St. Valentine.
On this day birds choose their mates, Cupid’s arrows strike the unsuspecting, and men offer gifts to demonstrate that attested bonds of love hold fast.
When calendar-driven holidays loom ahead, especially those holidays with obligatory gift-giving requirements, Mr. Henry faces the catastrophe in five stages:
Denial – What, here again already? Christmas cards haven’t been mailed yet. Let’s forget it.
Anger – Why must hackneyed traditions dominate our existence? Who came up with these poppycock red hearts and flowers motif?
Bargaining – Isn’t a gift given out of pure affection more valuable than a gift designed by a greeting card company? What about those pretty desert plates we bought last year? Don’t those still count?
Depression – No matter what the gift, it will fail to please the inamorata. Perhaps it’s best to buy from Bloomingdale’s. At least there you can take it back for an exchange. But Bloomingdale’s is such a shlep from the West Side, and such a crush of unwashed humanity, and doesn’t have a single thing she really needs or wants.
Acceptance – OK. Valentine’s Day is an easy one, after all. One can buy flowers, chocolates, or a nice veal chop. (No, scratch the chop. Make that underpants. Better yet, a chiffon cheesecake! It’s delicate, it’s delicious, and its name is a little risqué.)
Death, divorce, and debt – the glorious three “d’s” of Sotheby’s and Christies – currently bedevil the extended Henry family, though fortunately not the immediate household. Mrs. Henry believes in keeping up routines and does not countenance such prodigality.
Christmas holidays likewise bring forth a perpetual wellspring of objects seeking new ownership – apple corers, nutcrackers, scented candles in matched sets, cherry red windbreakers and frightful neckties.
Holidays also bear gifts of depression, indigestion, intestinal cramp, bloat and a throbbing gall bladder. Each year Mr. Henry swears he will leave for the holidays because too many around him take leave of their senses, and because despite his renowned self-control at the table, during holidays he abandons all sense of moderation and proportion.
Christmas tradition revives bad food habits from the storied Middle Ages, blithe era of famine, contagion, and dogma. Eggnog (vanilla nutmeg ice cream in a glass!), triple cream cheeses, bon bons wrapped in sparkly foil, preserved fruit, mincemeat, liqueurs, layer cakes, assorted chocolates with cream filling, and nuts roasted in peanut oil, palm oil, or coconut oil. Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, fat was a good thing.
Today these caloric gut-bombs serve as anti-depression medications self-prescribed to remedy seasonal affective disorder, better known as the blues and the blahs, horse latitudes of the soul.
What brings out the holiday nuts? After four scotches nutty Uncle Jack dressed in plaid jim-jams slips on the patio black ice and cracks his humerus. Ha! Not so funny now, Uncle Jack’s funny bone.
Clifford subscribes to the philosophy of a ph-balanced diet, that is, eating foods that promote an alkaline environment in the blood. Contrary to expectations, preachers of the ph-balanced way do not necessarily extol foods that are themselves alkaline. Lemons and limes are recommended, for example. Wine and vinegar are forbidden, as is coffee. Leafy vegetables are encouraged. Meat is discouraged. It’s hard to keep up. You’d better buy the ph bible.
Clifford claims it cured his incipient diabetes, chronic headache, chronic backache, and fatigue. If you add hoarseness, cottonmouth, snoring, dropsy, flatulence, hip pain and plantar fasciitis, you’ve got old age pretty much covered.
While shopping at the Union Square farmer’s market, Mr. Henry passed a stand selling fresh, farm-raised turkeys. Small, firm, not fat, they looked almost like a different species from the big-breasted turkey grandmother used to make. He tucked a 7 ½ pound bird into his backpack and boarded the subway for home.
After sitting for two days in dry salt and black pepper, the turkey was ready to be smeared with butter, sprinkled with paprika, and stuffed with fresh sage, savory, and onion. (He covered the breast in cheesecloth infused with more butter.) The plan was to shock the skin at 425º for half an hour and then turn the temperature down to 350º for the remaining hour and a half.
But this was not your grandmother’s turkey.
Organic, farm-raised birds of today don’t have much fat. After half an hour the pan was nearly devoid of drippings and the bird looked dry. Mr. Henry quickly poured some white vermouth into the pan. After another half an hour the pan was dry once again and the bird looked like leather. More vermouth!
The final result was a bird with crispy skin and great flavor, but a dry exterior. Next time he buys a bird as lean as this one, he will wrap the whole bird in parchment. A small, free-range turkey simply does not contain enough internal moisture to survive two hours in the oven without some protection. (Mr. Henry’s English friend Louise pours an entire bottle of white wine into the drippings pan. Her gravy is amazing.)
The heart, gizzard and neck roasted in the pan, as did assorted vegetables – celery, carrot, onion – which came out nearly black but delicious, nonetheless. Chopped neck and heart combined with the deglazed pan drippings (more vermouth!) made giblet gravy. The roasted gizzard went straight to the stock pot followed by those delicious roasted bones.
Chopped dried apricots soaked in Madeira, which unexpectedly were a hit with the kids, were this year’s surprise ingredient in the sage and bread stuffing. Red and white Swiss chard drizzled with balsamic made a delightful vegetable.