Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Time

I know, I know thanksgiving is all about the turkey. In the house of my childhood that meant bacon. Allow me to explain; in order to add a delicious seasoning to the bird and also keep it moist my Mom has always laid several strips of bacon over the top. Pork bacon of course, turkey bacon would just be silly.
Also as long as I can remember my Father and I have fiercely competed for that bacon. When the bacon coated turkey comes out of the oven the skin and the bacon are nice and crispy, not to mention at the peak of flavor. There are many strategies one can utilize to get to the bacon first. Waiting until dinner is served is not an option. Bacon does not make it to the table.
My Father's strategy has always been to be the husband. I believe there are other reasons he chose to be my Mom's husband, though I believe the bacon is a big part of it. What my Father does is insist that because he is the husband and a turkey is so big and heavy he should lift it for my Mom out of the oven. I know my mother to be rather strong and capable so this chivalrous act is really about the bacon. You see, lifting the turkey out of the oven puts my Father in perfect position to pick off one of the bacon pieces while Mom is not looking.
My strategy is a little different. I make the rolls. These batter rolls have been passed down from my Grandmother to me. When we aren't at her house I am in charge of making sure the rolls are light and flaky and full of butter. What no one realizes is how the rolls play into my bacon strategy. Said rolls could easily be made a day in advance, please don't tell my Father. When I am home I make the rolls right before dinner. I try to have them ready to go so that when the turkey comes out of the oven to rest the rolls go in, then everything is ready at the same time. Of course I cannot venture far from the oven lest the rolls burn. It just so happens that the turkey and all that bacon are resting on the stove. Delicious.
My Father and I have been in such fierce competition for the bacon for so long I'm not sure if my brother and sister even know that my Mom puts bacon on her turkey. I do have a sneaking suspicion that my Mom may be in on the bacon stealing action as well, though I have yet to figure out her strategy if she is.
Being of the number of decades that is usually considered grown up, I don't often get to be home for thanksgiving. This often means a lower bacon count for me. Everyone has their own way to cook a turkey it seems and it can be considered rude to sneak into their kitchen and doctor up their bird. That is why this year I am happy to be cooking the turkey.
The first and most important thing is to get a turkey and defrost it. We got ours from the local grocery store. Starting mid October they start tracking your purchases via your turkey (phone) number. If you spend $350 you get a free turkey. If you spend $750 you get a free Hutterite turkey. We made it just over $350 between the three of us. Last Saturday the turkey came home with us and went into the fridge to defrost. This morning we had to run a 10k. When we got back it was really turkey time.
Start with one thawed bird. Place it in a baking dish. Use whatever you have that the turkey will fit in. It turns out that all the hype about having a fancy roasting pan with a rack is just that, hype. Make sure all the giblets are removed from the bird. Cut up one apple and one onion, quarters will be fine. Place the apple and onion in a dish of water and microwave for one minute. Now cut one or two pieces of celery into three inch sections. Stuff the apple, onion and celery into the turkey. Whatever doesn't fit tuck into the pan. Next lay as many strips of peppered bacon across the carcass as you can. Cook at 325° for about three hours, when the internal temperature of the bird should be 160°. Don't worry the bird will keep cooking while it is resting. Double check cook times for the size turkey you have, I will not be responsible for your undercooked/overcooked bird.
While the turkey is resting you can fix up another take on a thanksgiving standby; the green bean casserole. As many folks know I don't really get along with lactose and I like bacon. It's time to step it up. Just like the normal version you will need to start with 16oz of fresh, frozen or canned green beans. Place the beans in a casserole dish. Cook four strips of peppered bacon and crumble into the dish. Now saute about 1/4 pound of chopped mushrooms and add those. Next you will need one cup of non dairy yogurt. Vanilla flavor is fine. I used soy because it was the most cost effective, however this could be equally good with cultured coconut milk or even goat milk. Finally add half of your can of those beloved french fried onions. Stir. Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes or until heated through. Add the rest of the onions to the top of the casserole before serving.
I have alot to be thankful for this year. Did I mention our friends brought bacon wrapped steak as a side dish? Enjoy your leftovers, we will be, for at least a week. May your next year be full of things to be thankful for, especially bacon!

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