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Thanksgiving Hints

October 8, 2010

Thanksgiving is upon us and I want to share some of my ideas on how to have a funner holiday. More wine, better food and well relatives, but if all goes well then even they will be ok.


The bird: well fresh and local is better, we all know that, but organic isn’t the main thing. If you can get a bird that ran around even better. Me, I’m going to do a simple frozen one…yes a factory bird. Why? $0.95 per lb thats why! I can make it better than it is, or at least the best it can be.


Slow is the operative word. Defrost in the fridge nice and slow so there is less damage. Then brine the bird for 18 to 24 hrs. A brine is a salt solution with sugar in it and other flavourings. The brine will renew the water content in the bird, season it and well make it juicier and less prone to drying out. I generally use sea salt to make the brine taste like the sea. Don’t bring out our fleur de sel, basic sea salt or kosher salt will do. DO NOT use iodized salt…it is yuckky. Add a good dose of sugar, cinnamon, black pepper corns, paprika and some Slap Your Mama. I just love that stuff. Chuck her back into the fridge and just let it chill. On the day of cooking bring out the brine early and let it come to room temp, then pat her down and season the bird. Here salt and pepper will do but I like Slap our Mama. Do a health rubdown with olive oil and yer good to go. I like to set the bird on root veggies as a rack and yes stuff it. I know but its my house and the stuffing will taste better.


Set the oven at 225-250 and get the bird in there for ~ 4hrs. Low and slow. I could talk of the relaxation of the protein strands but lets just say, low and slow….low and slow. It justs cooks better and stays moist and tender. Tent and let rest for 20 minutes then carve….easy peasy.


Ok deep frying is cool but dangerous…if you choose this method keep kids, pets and combustibles as far away as possible. I like this method but I don’t have the gear.


Turning the bird on the bbq is a great way if the bird will fit. I can get up to a 13 lb bird on mine and its great…tender smoky just good.


Sides: This will take some effort but you will be rewarded, cos the best fruit stands seem to be by wineries so you can score a twofer. This time of year has great produce so on Saturday head out. What is in??? Sweet potatoes like you have never tasted, fresh taters, cauliflower, broccoli, squashes, good stuff. And it all goes with turkey.


Now my secret sweet potato recipe. Just forget the marshmallows and listen. Get fresh ones, uncured if possible, wash, peel, cube and then steam till done. Steam you say…Yessiree, boiling them just makes them mushy. You can roast them too, btw and fry them and bbq them and… Well I digress. Add more butter (cultured please) than you think is health then cream, at least 18% and mash, Salt and pepper (sea salt and fresh ground pepper pls), then add about 2 maybe 3 shots of Jack Daniels. Yup just pour it in and smell…Its wonderful. I did this for a CIA trained chef and he was doubtful till he tasted it. Well the alcohol is still there so the kids will sleep well and the bourbon just goes with the sweet potatoes….yummy. Add more butter on each serving and life is good!!!


Wine: While you are out getting veg, stop by a winery for wine; hell, stop at two or three. Taste and pick what you will serve. Here are my suggestions.


White Wine is the natural with turkey but it needs to be a wee bit robust, so maybe Viogner is out.


Chardonnay is cool. Oaked, no oak is all good. And we got some good ones here.


Gewurztraminer Floral, minerally, slightly sweet is another winner. Just avoid any that are too floral. This wine will be loved by all, and it does spice rather well so if you are like me, its a winner.


Riesling: Certainly and is my choice. It just goes great and again we got some good ones.


Rose works great and if you have some White Zin fans the will like this. This wine will keep all happy. And yes Rose goes with food.


Red Wine: Alas the big red is not for this meal. If you like it ok, but the big Zin fruit-bomb just is wrong to me for this. So what red? Well Pinot Noir, of course. The wine of the Burgundian Kings. The finest red in the world and Essex County is home to some good ones. Get some for yourself and serve everyone else Rose. Be special who cares.


Basically you can drink what YOU LIKE but those are some of my ideas. When you are out and about you may get lucky and still find corn, field tomatoes, peppers etc and have a real feast….or maybe you can find local garlic which is just soooooooooooooo good.


Enjoy and I hope I have helped some. Me I probably will serve a Riesling because I am a Riesling hound and got lots.





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