Turkey-Brained

- by Karen Tintori

With all the shopping and kitchen prep for Thanksgiving dinner (seventeen of us will dine today, none of them my kids, sigh), with work and with the flurry of emails in a recipe exchange among writer friends and others — my brain turned into a turkey’s and I forgot to write and post this blog last night.  Lucky for me, NInc has no industry guest on tap for today, so I’m not stepping on anyone else’s toes, thankfully. 

On this Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for blessings great and small, especially the gift of imagination and creativity, prerequisites not only for good writing, but for good cooking as well. 

So, in the hour left of this Thanksgiving Day, I’ve got just enough time to finish writing this blog and share with you the most creative turkey recipe I’ve ever discovered, one that fits the bill for a busy writer — or a busy anybody.

Last Sunday’s online version of The New York Times featured a video for Mark Bittman’s 45-minute roasted turkey.  I kid you not.  I had to see it to believe it.  I had to search online for exact baking temps, and I just had to make it for today.  Yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon, I took my defrosted turkey from the fridge, plopped it on a cutting board and removed the backbone, ala the way I watched Mark do it.  Then I pressed on the chest to flatten the bird a little, turned it over, breastbone up, and pressed down on the chest to crack the cartilage a bit, flattening it even more.  The trick is to have as much of the bird as possible evenly exposed to the heat at the same time.

Into the roasting pan Mr. Turkey, drizzled with a little olive oil, laced with slivered fresh garlic, sprinkled with sea salt we brought back from Trapani (where my mom’s dad was born), freshly ground pepper and sprigs of thyme.  A mere 45 minutes later, the old bird was roasted to perfection. 

Amazing.  A-mazing!

I let it sit to cool down a bit and resorb the juices, then followed the deboning directions of another New York Times video to carve the perfect bird.  First I peeled off all of the skin, keeping the pieces as large as possible.  I deboned the thighs according to the video, then removed the breast meat in the same fashion, and sliced half-inch turkey breast “steaks,” layering the dark meat onto one side of an oblong roasting pan, the white meat on the other.  Over the carved turkey, I poured two to three cups of turkey stock I’d made and frozen after our last turkey dinner, then layered the reserved turkey skin over everything.  Then I covered it all tightly with tin foil and popped it in the fridge.

No craziness today of carving the turkey, mashing the potatoes, tossing the salad, stirring the gravy, opening the wine and answering a million questions from helpers in the hot kitchen.

Three hours before dinner went on the table, I popped the roaster of sliced turkey out of the fridge and into a 200 degree oven, and let it all warm through until all the other food was in the serving dishes.

Everyone (except my vegetarian niece) raved over the perfect, juicy, succulent, heavenly turkey, tasting just-made.  I will never again make a turkey on the same day I serve it. 

As for the turkey brain.  A friend reminded me yesterday how utterly stupid these birds truly are, especially in the rain.  Did you know farm-raised turkeys regularly waterboard themselves to an early grave by continuing to stare up at raindrops even as their lungs fill up with rainwater until they drown?

A wild turkey would never do that.  And neither would I– I almost drowned when I was thirteen.  I hate water up my nose. 

But I do like Wild Turkey.  As my dishwasher plows through the first load, here’s raising one to you in my 45 minutes left to blog.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

3 comments

  1. Ok, I take it back. I am indeed a turkey-brain.

    My blog was supposed to go up on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, not yesterday. Mea culpa! Gobble Gobble.

    Actually, a female turkey doesn’t gobble, she Chirp Chirps.

  2. Hey,

    I just wanted to let you know that I have been reading for a few days and I would like to sign up for the rss feed. Regrettably, I am not to computer smart so I’ll give it a try but I might need some assistance. This is a terrific find and I would hate to lose contact, and maybe never discover it again.

    Anyway, thanks again and I look forward to reading/posting again sometime!

  3. Hey Darnell,

    If you want to subscribe to the Novelists Inc blog via RSS feeds, go to this site and sign up.

    http://feeds.feedburner.com/NovelistsIncBlog?format=xml

    Hope to see you here soon.