Hal Rubenstein

Two Ways to Have the Best Thanksgiving, Ever

First:

  • Don’t prepare the turkey the way your mother did.
  • Regardless of how many people will be sitting round your table, do not buy a turkey larger than 12-13 lbs.  With a larger bird, by the time the whole beast is cooked, the outside layer of meat is rendered as moist as the heel on a cork wedgie.  If you   have to, buy 2 birds.  If your oven is small, cut the relatives you don’t really like (just kidding, kind of).
  • Do not prep your turkey or put it in the oven when it’s cold.

I know, Americans are programmed to panic if food doesn’t go right from the fridge to the fry pan, or go searching online for cures for salmonella if any edible except cookies is left on the counter for more than 15 mins.  Stop thinking that everything not refrigerated winds up like tuna fish salad left out in the noonday sun. Take the damn turkey out and let it warm to room temperature

The Key to the Perfect Turkey

DO NOT PUT THE STUFFING INTO THE CAVITY OF THE BIRD.  Instead, take a spatula, and gently insert it between the skin of one breast and the meat beneath. When the soft part of the spatula is all the way in, take it out and continue using your hand.  Go slowly, if it’s your first time, and don’t tell anyone because it will come off as TMI, but the feeling, if you do it right, is a weird kind of turn on.  Go all the way to the end of the bird. When you have both sides done, insert your stuffing inside these new openings under the breast. Not only will the moisture in your stuffing (if yours is made with all dry ingredients, change it, because nobody is going to want it anyway) act as an automatic baster, but this new layer will slow down the cooking time for the breast meat to match the dark meat.  It’s also going to make your turkey look a helluva lot bigger.

  • Use a knife to partially separate the leg from the body will also cut the cooking time.
  • Roast the turkey at 18 mins per pound.
  • Put aluminum foil over the top for the last hour.
  • DO NOT start carving the turkey right from the oven. Let it rest on the counter, for a half hour so the juices will settle.  Besides, the flavor of even a fresh killed turkey is subtle.  Served piping hot, it pretty much tastes like a Purdue chicken.  In other words, it tastes white.
  • Sharpen your carving knife. (Avoid using electric ones. They shred the meat.  If you don’t have a straight edge carver, invest in one.  It’s worth it).  Now, find someone at the table who can carve.  If there are no skilled hands available, there are scores of online videos to show you or the designated-in-advance carver how. For this, it’s ok to search.
  • You don’t have to take the stuffing out first.  Just serve the turkey on a large enough platter to catch it as it falls away from the bird as soon as you slice it.

Second:

Since I am the only person in my family who likes turkey, I’ve 86’d it on Thanksgiving   We have prime rib.  True, it’s more expensive, but ask your family for a show of hands as to which one they would look prefer eating.  When you say “prime rib?,” expect a breeze.

Finally, if you are vegan, rather than molding seitan into something that resembles a creature that used to have feathers, why not just skip the meal and get on line early to see Hunger Games.  Don’t forget to stock up on kale and quinoa energy bars.