Thanksgiving Test

The danger of writing about skill is that occasionally someone asks you to put your money where your mouth is.

That someone happens to be my lovely wife, Jen. The ask? To cook the Thanksgiving turkey.

After all, she said, cooking a turkey is just another skill, like hitting a tennis ball or learning a language. Plus, she said, it’s incredibly manly.

I protested, to no avail.

“You always say you have to get outside your comfort zone,” she said.

I agree that it’s outside the comfort zone. The question is whether it’s outside the salmonella zone.

So I’m doing a crash course. I’ve been checking out the work of my friends Carri Thurman of Two Sisters Bakery in Homer, Alaska, and Jenny Rosencrans and Andy Ward at Dinner: A Love Story.

On the advice of my brilliant neighbor Michael Rulhman, I’m going with the “roast and braise” technique, which appears to involve a considerable amount of joint-cutting, lemons, and white wine. (Not all for the turkey, either.)

The knives are sharp. The fridge is full. Thirty people arriving on Thursday.

So my question is: do you have any turkey advice? After all, this is the time of year we acknowledge our dependence on others — and I need coaching!


I’m happy to report that (whew!) all went well. We ended up changing strategies at the last minute, going with a classic roast technique. We stuffed it with lemons, onions, sage, parsley, and oregano, with plenty of butter and salt. Four hours, breast down, then a quick flip, and it was done.
My neighbor did the deep-fryer technique, injecting beforehand with Cajun spices. The setup looked like a meth lab. It also tasted pretty great. Might have to think about that for next year…. Thanks for the help, everybody, and happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for all of you.