Turkey Tumult

Given that I read on-line every major newspaper's Thanksgiving-obsessed food section this past Wednesday on SauteWednesday, I feel compelled to share with all of you my Thanksgiving menu.

I buy an Eberly Farms Organic Turkey and brine it overnight. This year I hope to avoid last year's catastrophe, which resulted from buying a cheap styrofoam cooler to brine the bird in. The cooler broke and there was a flood of salty brine water all over our kitchen.

Other years I've bought Kosher turkeys and Murray's free-roaming turkeys, and had good luck with both of those as well. Just try to avoid buying a Butterball. They have a strange unnatural taste, probably from the crap that is injected into them. The most fashionable turkey to buy this year is a heritage bird. They're much more expensive than even my organic bird, but they do have a more intense and distinct flavor. If you like dark meat, this is the bird for you. If you haven't ordered one by now, you're probably out of luck. Every website that is selling them appears to be sold out.

I use the The Silver Palate Cookbook recipe to cook the turkey with a few modifications. I've tried the high-speed roasting technique advocated by Barbara Kafka with mixed results. Here's a turkey roasting primer I came across in the Washington Post. Personally, I just use the Silver Palate recipe, brine the sucker, and turn the bird once halfway through the roasting process, I get moist, flavorful dark and white meat, crispy skin, and an altogether delicious bird.

I make a cornbread-sausage stuffing with apples also inspired by a Silver Palate recipe from the same, above-mentioned book. I make it easy on myself by using bags of cubed Pepperidge Farm corn bread stuffing and mix in both sage sausage and Italian sweet sausage, freshly cut apples, walnuts and some fresh herbs thrown in just to keep me from feeling the wrath of Alice Waters.

I usually make two kinds of potatoes; sweet potatoes with maple syrup, butter and heavy cream, and George Germon's equally decadent recipe for mashed potatoes. George's recipe is in Cucina Simpatica: Robust Trattoria Cooking From Al Forno, the wonderful book he wrote with his wife Joanne Killeen. I've made the sweet potatoes with both fresh sweet potatoes and canned sweet potatoes in light syrup, and they're great either way. When in doubt stir in more cream or butter into the pan, and you will never go wrong.

My wife insists we have something green, so we either have brussels sprouts that I roast at 450 degrees with lardon (thick bacon cubes) or a broccoli puree made with plenty of grated Parmigiana Reggiano or Grana Padana.

For dessert, I just gather pies from various sources. If you want to be intrepid and make pie, I would advise buying a copy of Humble Pie: Musings on What Lies Beneath the Crust, Anne Dimock's brilliant treatise on my most favorite dessert in the universe. I've never made a pie using her recipe, but I've tasted pie she's made, and she might be the best pie baker on the planet.

Happy Turkey Day to all! But I'll be checking in before Thursday in any case.