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According to family legend (on my mother's mother's side) we have been having Thanksgiving in our clan since almost the dawn of time, and long before it was declared a national holiday by Mr. Lincoln. My grandmother swears by this fact. And while I have read that what we now celebrate as Thanksgiving is actually a complete rip-off of an older, originally English, harvest festival - and while I know perfectly well that distant ancestors in both halves of my family tree were actually at the "first" (recorded, American version of) Thanksgiving - I tend to take all family stories with a grain of salt.

What I do firmly believe, is the assertion that the menu, as passed down to my grandmother and served at her table, was based solidly on one much older (though obviously not original - no lobsters, clams, or venison were ever on our Turkey-day table). In my grandmother's home - the Thanksgiving menu was sacrosanct. It didn't even matter if no one liked a certain dish - it had to be made because it was as though the menu was set in stone by God himself (it's the unknown/long forgotten 11th commandment - Thou shalt have things at Thanksgiving thou would never eat otherwise, even if thou will not eat them, even on Thanksgiving. It's unknown/forgotten because it's so long-winded).

I have been in charge of Thanksgiving around here for probably the last decade now, and while at first I adhered, almost religiously, to my mother's mother's edicts - I have explored new territory over the years - and feel I have now perfected it. If that causes 15 generations to rollover in their graves, so be it - My Thanksgiving Rocks! :)

And what is the best thing I do that Grandma never knew about?

Well, my grandmother was a baster - a serious baster - every time you turned around she was drowning that poor bird in it's own juices. I don't like fussing over things like that - but I also like a moist turkey (who doesn't?). Solution? Well, way way back in the dark ages (ie the 1970's), my mother worked with a fellow nurse named Audrey who hailed from somewhere in the deep South (and was Methuselah's twin sister). According to Audrey - no one had to be fussin' over a bird like that - all a person had to do was slather the foul in ... drum roll please ... mayonnaise!

A single coat of mayo applied to the raw bird before placing it in the oven, and you get a succulent well browned bird without lifting another finger (well, except for tenting it once it's gone brown enough for you) It is by far the most brilliant tip ever passed from one cook to another, and has been my mother's secret (and now mine) ever since.

Mayo, salt, pepper, long neglect, and 11th hour tenting = the perfect turkey! [Editor's note: the mayonnaise in question must be real, whole, full fat mayo (never tried Miracle Whip, but that would probably work beautifully - me thinks I may have to do a test run on a chicken some time). I use Best Foods, but the brand isn't important so long as you like it and it's not fat free - fat free will never brown and you will end up with a grey, gloppy looking turkey - don't even ask how I know, lol. I know the mayo is terribly fattening, but hey - it's once a year, and you only live once that you know of. Besides, whether you're repeatedly drenching it in rendered turkey fat, or coating it once in mayo .. ain't none of it good for you, LOL] So, pass the mayo and tell grandma she can keep her turkey baster to herself! (Is it just me, or does that sound a bit rude? lol).

Turkey Before:


Turkey After:

I took these pics with my camera phone, so they're not the best quality (those spots that look blackish are actually just dark brown and the bird as a whole is not actually this dark - hey they said the camera had a flash, they didn't say it actually did any good, lol ;)

Now, I hope you all had a very happy holiday (and you're all invited to Thanksgiving at our place in WV next year when we will have a house big enough to accommodate guests (and a yard for the dogs - so they will not be sitting nearby the whole time like they were this year, staring at the table as though they're about to starve to death despite the fact they just ate).

And, now ladies and gentlemen, I must succumb to my tryptophan induced coma :)

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While I wrote this, I was listening to:
Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) - Mr. Blue Sky
via FoxyTunes

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