There was a time when, if you suggested I change my Thanksgiving menu, you’d have been met with flaming crosses and cries of, “Heretic!!”
It simply wasn’t done.
My mother had made the same menu for as long as I could remember, and my grandmother before her. Actually, now that I think about it, they usually joined forces and made it a team effort – I seem to be the only member of the family crazy bullheaded masochistic independent enough to cook the entire damn thing by myself. I won’t kid you, though – I LOVE it. Really, I do.
The first sign of Turkey Day Dissention came the year I met Beloved. His family had traditions too – imagine that! And since I’d rather put my own eyes out with a red-hot poker than eat oyster stuffing (or oyster anything, for that matter), I decided some compromise was in order. We kept my grandmother’s cornbread dressing, pumpkin pie and pecan pie recipes and found new recipes for everything else.
Because my kitchen ain’t no democracy.
Honestly, though, I’m glad I began exploring new holiday recipes and you’ll see why when I get to my mother’s sweet potato recipe. Besides, if I hadn’t, I’d never have tried The Turkey From Hell.
I don’t think Beloved and I had been dating for too long when he bought me Eat Dangerously by Benjamin Lewis and Rodrigo Velloso. I was immediately captivated – not only are the recipes absolutely delicious, it is a wickedly funny read. It has a manifesto, for crying out loud – how many cookbooks have you ever owned that contain their own manifesto? At any rate, it was the first step on a journey that changed the way I not only cook, but perceive, Thanksgiving dinner. I can’t and won’t reproduce the recipe here – not only for copyright reasons, but because I’ve made my own changes over the years. It is on their website and I do encourage you to take a look at the recipe as it was originally written. If it doesn’t make you laugh out loud, it will surely change the way you look at turkey.
So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you:
The Turkey from Hell
1 minimally processed turkey – nothing that’s been “injected”, so Butterball is out
Single malt scotch – I prefer Dalwhinnie, a marvelous and delicate 15-year-old, but Aberlour works well too
Tarragon or rosemary, depending on your tastes; freshly minced preferred, but dried is acceptable
Aromatic vegetable scraps (carrots, onions, celery, etc.)
1 needle and syringe
Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Rub the turkey with olive oil; sprinkle the tarragon or rosemary over the bird.
Using the needle and syringe, inject the turkey with 1/2 cup of scotch in various locations. Throw in some of the herb of choice, then truss the cavity. Place a tablespoon of flour in the roasting bag and shake it all around. Place the turkey in roasting bag with the vegetable scraps and place it in a large roasting pan.
Roast until the internal temperature is 165 F.
3 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours for a bird weighing 16 – 20 pounds.
4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours for a bird weighing 20 – 24 pounds.
Or call the Butterball people; they have a toll free number and work on Thanksgiving.