Thursday, November 26, 2009

TurkeyFest '09

I've been away from the blog for a little while, so I decided to come back with something truly stupendous...

Shortly after moving to Columbus five years ago, I started cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for my friends. The inaugural event happened to fall on the same day as the Ohio State vs. Michigan football game, which would ensure that only the most devoted of my friends would attend. That game almost always falls on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, which also thinned out the crowd, as many wondered why they should get their turkey fix now, when they can just have mom's turkey five days later. The solution to raise interest in the plan was to set a food theme for the party; in this case, it was "Warped" Thanksgiving: Cajun-pepper roasted turkey, green-bean-casserole-stuffed mushrooms, sweet potato fries, cranberry chutney... you get the idea. Dinner was a great success, and nobody left my house hungry.

The next year's theme was "Indian (not Indian)" Thanksgiving: Tandoori turkeys (two, as word of mouth spread from the year before), fried sweet potatoes with yogurt-coconut sauce, potato curry, cranberry chutney (again), and some other stuff with names I can't remember. This all went over quite well, and was actually my first real foray into Indian cooking. I have never used so much garam masala and turmeric in my life.

Then, for a couple of years nothing happened. I made a relatively traditional turkey dinner last year for my housemates, but didn't make a big deal out of it. I desperately needed to make a big deal out of something this year, so I hatched a plan to cook three turkeys: one deep-fried in peanut oil (a staple at my father's Thanksgiving), one smoked with apple wood (because, c'mon, smoked turkey is delicious), and one Cajun-pepper roasted like the very first bird I ever made. And so, TurkeyFest '09 was born...

Early in the morning, I set up the smoker and the deep fryer. I planned to have dinner served at 4pm, so I had to awake at the asscrack of dawn to get that smoker fired up. Luckily, she's an electric, which decreases the cooking time. 6 hours for a 13-pound bird worked perfectly.

225 degrees, the magic number for authentic barbecue. Slow cooking over a long period of time makes meat tender and moist.

Here's what the smoked bird looked like at about 5 hours in. Yum!

Giving some of the attendees a peek (and a whiff) at the roaster.

This bastard is stuffed to the gills with butter, hot peppers, onions, and garlic, and rubbed down with cayenne pepper and salt. The pan drippings from this bird are damn hot!

The oil is just about ready: 325 degrees is the ideal fryer temp when the bird hits the grease. Peanut oil is the ideal cooking oil because of its high flash point (450 degrees) and the subtle nutty flavor it imparts into the bird.

Safety first! So many idiots have seriously burned themselves, or set buildings on fire trying to deep fry a turkey. Always set up at least 10 feet from any building and make sure anything that goes in the oil is dry. Hot oil doesn't react well to cold water or ice.
There they are, my finished prizes. Roasted at the top, deep fried in the middle, smoked on the bottom. Note the cow cutting board...
Celebration on a job well done, except... aw fuck, I have to carve these beautiful bitches.

The entire time I spent carving the turkeys, I had people picking off the platters. I usually remind people that I have a knife and they should step the fuck back, but I had too much work to do.

All that was left: 3 lonely carcasses.
Happy Thanksgiving! Hope your mom's turkeys are this good... (but I doubt it.)


Jon said...

(drools...) i want to go to there...

Nikola said...

You're the effing man. Those are the three most beautiful birds I think I've ever seen.

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