Let’s Talk Turkey

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching I thought it would be prudent to teach you uncouth rubes the proper way to celebrate the holiday. Surely, there are many traditions associated with this wonderful day that we as Americans… and for some odd reason Canadians, although theirs falls on a different date I think, set aside to thank God for everything we have been given the previous year. Or, if you are some Godless, heathen POS, a day that is set aside for you to thank yourself for being you much like the other 364 days of the year in your calendar. Whomever you are thanking, it is a nice day. The traditions range from familial, to neighborhood, to municipal, to statewide, to regional and finally to national. That being said, some traditions are better than others. Namely; mine over yours. So I figured it would be a mitzvah if I were to educate you on how to truly squeeze all the drippings from Thanksgiving and make it a day worth looking forward to all year. Without further ado, let’s get started. To make it a bit more quaint… I will be using the traditional 17th century spellings of the foods and activities I will be listing for you.

  1. Turky (Turkey) – The honored guest! Now, I know most of you reading this are probably saying; ‘ummm I know how to cook a turkey, J.M.’ and you probably think you do, which is swell. But you don’t. First of all, how many of you are buying organic, farm raised, truffle-fed turkeys for your feast? I would wager not many. You are content with the frozen ball of meat in the plastic body bag and yellow nylon stocking that you heft out of the cooler at your local market for the plebs. Pathetic. You need to up your game, literally. Your bird should be treated as royalty while alive on earth and then, if the farmer is even halfway conscientious about the bird’s feelings, put to death in a gentle manner. Preferably in its sleep or mid-orgasm so the poor thing has no idea what hit it. Speaking of hitting it, if you are a real man like me, you hunt your own turkey. Now I know some of you hippie types and beta-males are going to call me a monster for hunting such an impossibly stupid, slow and easy-to-kill semi-flightless bird. But you have no idea what it feels like to be one with nature. To respect the land, the vegetation and the prey itself. To know that the animal you are about to kill is going to be used to feed a family and that the bird is going to be killed quickly and humanely is truly wonderful. To hunt as our ancestors did. To hunt as the noble native people of this land once did. To understand the primacy of nature and man’s place in its plan. It is truly transcendent. So when I raise that small homemade flamethrower to my shoulder and slowly pull down the welder’s mask that I’ve painted to look like the face of the Cookie Monster and take careful aim at that bird, the feeling I get is more of reverence than excitement. Murdering your own turkey will make the day feel so much more wholesome and dare I say, holy. Prep is the next step. Some people choose to brine their birds for periods as long as five to six weeks before the big day. That seems excessive to me. In fact, the whole brining process seems a little odd. I have never sat down to dinner with anyone only to have them turn to me and say; “mmmmmmm have you ever had something so viscous and slimy? It’s like heaven slithered right onto my plate!” Nor do I put much stock into any method of food prep which exists to essentially destroy the natural flavor of whatever it is that is being prepared. So skip the brine. Unless you want to brine your bird. I mean, I don’t care because I don’t plan on eating whatever dreck you are cooking that day. Moving along, we need to discuss the most important thing; cooking the bird. Again, there are a lot of different opinions on the best way to cook a turkey, but they are all mostly wrong. So I will tell you how to do it. Get a roasting pan, coat the outside of the bird in Bell’s seasoning, bring 9 pounds of butter to a boil and slowly dip the turkey in the butter for no longer than 3 1/2 to 4 seconds at a time, pulling out rapidly to allow to cool and drip for about 10 seconds. You will repeat these steps at regular intervals for about an hour or two, depending on your desired level of frustration. After the arbitrary dipping of the bird which the original Puritan colonists referred to as; “the most egregious example of frustration and the wasting of tyme carried out by mankynd, that Heaven itself cries out for the blood of the entire werld“, you are to place your bird in the roasting pan and cook at 170 for four to five hours a pound. You may want to start cooking your bird a few days after Halloween just to be sure it will be ready for your guests! Trust me; murdering your own bird, boiling it in butter and then slow cooking it to a carbon cinder is the only way to go and if you don’t believe me, try it for yourself! And if you are still not convinced, fuck you!
  2. Pyes (Pies) – I have decided to forego instructing you on the proper methods to cook your sides. Mashed potatoes, creamed onions, stuffing, sweet potatoes, gravy etc. all of that stuff is wonderful, don’t get me wrong. However, if you do not know how to mash a potato or buy a packet of Knorr turkey gravy, you should probably check and see if either your local YMCA or homeless shelter is handing out food that day. I couldn’t, nay, I wouldn’t dare skip over the fan-favorite of this glorious day; the pies. Can you smell them now? Baking in the oven or cooling on a window sill? Which brings me to an observation I would  like to make. Who out there has ever cooled a pie on a window sill? By the way, why was this a thing? What genius thought that exposing freshly cooked pastry dough filled with macerated fruit to bugs was a good idea? You only ever see it done in cartoons. Old cartoons, at that. Were there no flies in the thirties and forties? From what I remember from high school, didn’t wild packs semi-ferrel hobos roam the streets looking for food because it was the Great Depression? Didn’t something like four out of every five kids either die or get polio by the time they were three? You’d think that people would have wised up and thought better than to expose their food to the elements in such an uneasy and truly dangerous time. But, I digress. Ok, back to pies for now. There are a few that are staples and by staples I mean we can’t seem to get away from them no matter how hard we try. The first is probably the crowned king of the Thanksgiving dessert table; the pumpkin pie. Which, like all things flavored with pumpkin, tastes nothing like pumpkin and is an affront to God. If you had no idea of what pumpkin pie was and I offered you a pastry shell filled with custard that had the color and texture of puppy shit which was supposed to taste like a gourd, would you eat it? Of course not. Let’s leave that one in the dust. The other two pies which make their appearances are the traditional apple and sometimes, if you are down south or are lucky, pecan. Apple pie is good because it’s dreadfully uninteresting. It is the vanilla ice cream of pies. Apples? Ok. Pastry crust? Ok. A sweet, cinnamony flavored binding sauce? Ok. Nothing wrong with apple pie. Good with ice cream and I am told that some people, probably communists, put a slice of cheddar cheese on it. Next is pecan. Pecan pie is good but after three bites your teeth start to hurt, your insulin levels do things that nature never intended and you start to feel the first pangs of diabetes. If you manage to finish the pie, which from what I can tell is plain gelatin, 9 sticks of butter, four sacks of sugar reduced and studded with pieces of pecan you can plan on losing a foot or hand to the gout within the next few days after the holiday. Pie is essential for the Thanksgiving table. It is easier than making a cake.
  3. Spirited Drink and Wyne (Alcohol) – Let’s face it; if you do Thanksgiving right, you probably shouldn’t remember it the following morning. However, the holiday is a marathon, not a sprint. This means that it would be in your best interest to start slowly and then work your way up to shots of whatever brown liquor you hide from your wife and keep in your car. Start with beer. Beer is delicious and most importantly, your stomach can hold a lot of it. It is a good sipping drink and if you buy only one kind of beer your guests will never be able to tell if you’ve had twenty or are still nursing the same one you were holding for dear life when you opened the door to grant them entry to your sublet. As for wine the question of what to drink with turkey is something that is thrown around a lot. Turkey is gamey and the foods that accompany it are so rich that you are probably safe with a bright, crisp Sancerre or white Bordeaux in order to cut through all the fat. That being said, if you have guts, instead of contrasting your meal, complement it with a heavier (Oregonian) pinot noir. Luckily for you, good wine is expensive and most people know that so cheaping out and just buying a box of something won’t garner too many sneers and derisive chuckles. Some folks like to have a signature drink in a punch bowl waiting for their guests to enjoy. This could include, spiked cider or… well… spiked cider. Not a bad way to go if you want to get your guests loaded relatively quickly and on the cheap. The punch bowl strategy works wonderfully because it allows you to buy bottom shelf everything. From “US GOVT. CIDER, RECIPE 3C”, orange juice you found at the bus stop and rum that “some guy that works with my cousin’s friend makes” you can pretty much hide the fact that you are a cheap bastard by blending a whole bunch of stuff together and diluting it with sugar and cinnamon. Don’t forget to hide the good stuff. Coming home after a long day of metal detecting on the beach or freelance crime-scene photography can only be made much worse by heading to your kitchen, grabbing your favorite wax, Daisy bathroom cup and reaching into your cupboard only to see that you only have a microscopic amount of Old Harper left. This would be positively life-shattering. If your family and friends are anything like mine, they will sniff out your liquor and demolish it within seconds of entering your lair. This fact has forced me to discover some ingenious methods of hiding liquor which I will disclose to you now. Old Faithful – Hide your liquor in the bowl of your toilet and tell your family that they have to use the bathroom at the 7/11 down the street because yours, “broke today and won’t flush and I only figured that out this morning AFTER I went.” Pennywise – tie a string to the neck of the bottle and lower it into a sewer grate. Tell your guests that your neighborhood has been recently terrorized by a gang of ornery teens in clown outfits and that you’ve been selected by your neighbors to periodically head outside to check and see if the coast is clear. Molon Labe – simply hold your liquor with you at all times and defiantly dare your loved ones to, “come and take it” whenever they start to salivate whilst spying the bottle in your pocket, hand, wherever.
  4. Gaiymes Uv Shportsh (football) – I don’t like football so I don’t have a rule or tip for this one. I will say that football is good for one thing on Thanksgiving; giving people excuses not to have to talk to each other. It’s impossible to watch a sweet pass or rush or wicked pick-6 or testicle tingling field goal or asshole puckering punt and talk to someone at the same time. Any red-blooded American male knows that or should know that and if they don’t then they should be politely, yet firmly be asked to leave and never return. Women who break this rule should be taken politely, yet firmly, into the kitchen and be made to apologize to the gravy for no longer and no shorter than 45 straight minutes, tears preferred.

Well, folks… That’s it. I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with joy, thanks and most importantly, giving. Because without thanks we have nothing to give and without giving no one would be thankful. Without the thankfulness of those we give to, we would never even begin to be thankful or even endeavor to give thanks, to those who have given us so much to be thankful for.



Let’s Talk Turkey

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