Monday, November 28, 2005

Thanksgiving 2005

This year, my wife Tracie and I drove West to Dillon Beach to spend some time with our extremely amusing urban tribe, the Roy Clan. What I love most about this group is how un-pressured it is. If you want to spend the whole sunny weekend indoors reading a book, game on. Our total headcount this year was a startling 24. I'm still scratching my head how this weekend was planned so well... but it was fun!

Among some of the great games I got to play this time were Gin Rummy, Senat, Blokus, Settlers of Katan, Charades, and—my personal favorite—Werewolf. Every time this particular group plays Werewolf (usually only on Thanksgiving, though that looks set to change after this year), it gets a little more nuanced and more entertaining, probably because we're using the advanced rules now. And Dave becomes a better and better liar. Susan, too. (On my only turn as a werewolf, I had to apologize to my wife for offing her so early in the game, but she was sitting right next to me, and that just will not do if there's any chance at all she can detect my hand selecting my next victim!)

Ah, but the turkey. Oooooh, the turkey. Ecce turkus:

She's a beauty, ain't she? Okay, so see that thermometer sticking out of the thigh? After four hours, well within the suggested cooking time, that sucker was reading 195 degrees! I'm starting to think, SHIT! This baby's going to be overcooked and I'll have an angry crowd of villagers screaming to have me lynched! Jeepers! I took it out and started carving it.

I must say... carving a turkey for friends and family is sheer delight. You get to finally see if your hours of shopping, planning, basting and cooking have paid off in a meal unable to be bought in stores. And, for a meal this size, it is a special treat when it all comes together. The problem is that this year's turkey was a little undercooked. Not all of it, thank the gods, just the bottom parts. It was about 90% finished. Whew. This was the 3rd turkey I'd cooked this year specifically in preparation for this day's event. If I hadn't got it nailed down after so much preparation, what had I done wrong?

My 22.75 pound beauty was from the recipe I posted earlier (pictured at left and covered in butter and turkey bits; click it to see a legible image), although I've since found that this recipe is flawed; the bottommost part of the chest plate was slightly uncooked. Generally, there are three tests for turkey-ness deliscioso: 1) the internal thigh temperature must be 165 degrees 2) a big bird like this has to cook 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours and 3) if you poke it with a fork, the juices run clear. This turkey passed all three tests, so I think I'll to poke the thermometer into the chest plate next time.

Even so, this year's big bird was scrumptious, the best yet. Slightly salty, and soooooo juicy. I can't wait until next year!

One other lovely addition to our Thanksgiving gastronomic abandon... Pierre Jacqueman's vinaigrette salad dressing, Liberé de Sucre. At this point, I could delve into the quaint signficance of Pierre Jacqueman, Thanksgiving's extroverted lumberjack from Canadia[sic], but that's a whole other post. Maybe next year.

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