Thanksgiving Postmortem

Well, I must confess I was a bit cynical about the brining of the turkey. The internet is filled with glowing endorsements of the process, about how “YOU WILL NEVER DO IT ANY OTHER WAY!” “PEOPLE WILL WEEP FOR JOY UPON TASTING THE MOISTNESS!” and “WORLD PEACE CAN BE ACHIEVED IF ONLY EVERYONE WOULD USE THE BRINE!”.

(I may have used a little hyperbole there.)

But now, I give. You can add this address to the list of brine-lovers in the world. The turkey was amazingly moist. The turkey breast was not just moist, it was JUICY…like there were ACTUAL JUICES running onto my plate from the meat.

Here are my tips (and reminders for next year)…

— Alton Brown, you are the man. Your brine recipe worked wonderfully, and the addition of the red wine to the gravy…GENIUS!

— When you turn the turkey over in the brine before you go to bed, it might be a good idea for your husband to communicate the fact that he’s letting go of one side of the enormous brining bag before he does it. That way you can avoid losing about a quart of brine all over your kitchen counter, stovetop, and down your leg, soaking your socks. While the smell of vegetable broth is a nice one to greet you on a cold winter’s night, it is not a great perfume.

— Please do not buy a twenty-pound turkey unless you have a roasting pan to fit it into. You will be able to fit it into the pan, but the wings will hang over. This will not be a problem except (a) you coated the entire turkey in canola oil and (b) you start the turkey’s roasting at a raging 500 degrees, which prompts the oil from the wings to drip all over the bottom of your oven, fills your house with smoke, and sets off the smoke alarm. Twice.
Your oldest son, having been trained diligently in emergency preparedness, will sprint to his closet, put on his sandals, and head for the mailbox (your designated fire-in-the-house meeting place). He will not listen to anyone who suggests that IT’S COLD OUTSIDE and he might want to stay in since there is not really a fire but instead an overly ambitious mother making a holiday meal in the kitchen. You will have to physically “encourage” him to stay inside where the high- pitched racket is.
As your baby sings along with the alarm contentedly, your husband’s parents will run around frantically, opening windows and finding fans, and you and your husband will have a somewhat heated conversation about whether or not you should cut the wings off the turkey.
Having privately made your peace with it, you will start hacking off the wings, which would be an easy job except for the aforementioned canola oil. You will imperil your mother-in-law, who generously volunteers to hold the wings, and yourself by using the largest knife in your kitchen while your hands are slippery. Also, apparently the turkey you bought was a champion flyer because its wing joints are well-entrenched inside its body.
And all of that could have been avoided if only you had undershot on the turkey size a little. Or if you owned this. *ahem*

It sounds chaotic (and it was!) but the meal was wonderful, and I was really very relaxed by the time dinner was ready.

5 Responses to “Thanksgiving Postmortem”

  1. Susan

    Kelly,I love reading your blog. Your descriptions are so vivid. I can just picture you trying to hack the wings off that turkey.I honestly expected the link of what you should have owned to be a least an electric knife, possibly a chainsaw.Susan


  2. Rachael Starke

    Oooohhh. You did the Alton Brown recipe?? That really is the gold standard. Now I’m wishing we’d been there!!And it’s great (aside from, of course, the frostbite factor) that Cam did exactly what he was taught! It was actually a reminder that we Starkes haven’t done a fire drill in a loong time. We actually hadan earthquake drill in the form of a 4ish tremor a few months back. Emily and Sarah totally passed. The rest of us – total failure. 🙂


  3. Rebecca

    I’m a big fan of the brine…it’s necessary. Alton was the one who convinced me to try it, so to him I owe eternal juicy thanks. First year I tried it, it was cold enough to leave the huge pot with the turkey brining overnight outside. Fridge was too small. That was an adventure. But well worth it! Glad you enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving with family!


  4. Kelly

    Hmmm…good thing I didn’t remember David’s chainsaw, Susan. That could have been a really slippery situation!


  5. Kelly

    Oh, and as far as emergency drills go, the other children failed miserably. Panic ensued, terrified screaming, weeping, gnashing of teeth, and all that.Then when they knew there was nothing wrong, they went back to sitting on the couch watching the Macy’s parade and limited their commentary to complaints about how they couldn’t hear the sound on the TV.


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