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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving is Awesome

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Today my family hosted the "Smith" side of the Smith-Curran marriage which has spawned me and my kin. We had a large group of sixteen, and I eagerly helped prepare the meal.

First off, the turkey:

From Thanksgiving

Oh yes. Brined for about an hour per pound, in this case, sixteen hours the night before. The brine was 3/4 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of sugar for every gallon of water. After the brine I rinsed the turkey thoroughly and applied the rub: 1/3 cup fresh-ground peppercorns, 1/3 cup salt/seasoned salt, and about 1/6 cup garlic salt/powder. I rubbed the mix all over (hence the name), and brought it over here ...

From Thanksgiving

... to the steaming vat of waiting peanut oil. You can see the thermometer telling us the oil was far too hot to cook with, almost 500 degrees (Fahrenheit, my international friends; about 260C). We cooled it off to about 400F, and when we put the turkey in it dropped within the range of 300-350F (165C).

From Thanksgiving

Let's go to work.

From Thanksgiving

This ridiculously elaborate way of getting the turkey into the boiling-hot oil was all in the name of safety. I think next time I can just slowly drop it in there on my own.

The trick is to drop it in slowly, because the 350F oil does not take kindly to a 42F turkey intruder. It was a slow dip in, out, in, out, in-out-in-out-in, like some kind of deadly hot fondue.

Almost there ...

Ooh, that oil is angry.

OK, it's in. About three minutes of cooktime per pound, we've got about sixteen pounds, so I'll check back in fifty minutes, give or take. In the meantime, let's check out the spread ...

Very nice.

My brother is weird.

Joy! Is the turkey ready?

How's it look, dad? Almost there.

Ah, siblings. It's good to be home for Thanksgiving. Good to be not-in-China.

Obligatory artsy cranberries and coke shot.

Looks like it's ready.

Wow. That is one delicious-looking turkey. Just seeing that makes me want to fry another one.


And Duke gives his cautious approval.

In addition to the turkey, I made some damn good cornbread, and a giant bowl of wild-mushroom stuffing made with an olive oil and rosemary loaf. It was a great spread, and everyone loved the turkey: the skin was so crispy and delicious, and the meat stayed so moist and flavorful, the way I had always dreamed a turkey would taste. In case of a frying mishap, we prepared another turkey in the oven (well, hey, sixteen people, one turkey wasn't gonna cut it anyway ...), and it couldn't hold a candle to the fryer: it was dry, less flavorful, just kind of a dumbed-down turkey. I don't know if it was the brine, the fry, or a combination of the two, but I will never roast a turkey again.

Despite all I've bitched about being back in Delaware, it was good to be home for Thanksgiving, and not do it over Skype. Peering into that vat of oil today, checking the temperature and adjusting the turkey as it fried, I got (yet another) flashback of China, of my first dim sum in Hong Kong and Macau's meat markets, of rooftop hangouts in Zhanjiang and dumplings in Jilin. And as awesome as those moments were, as impossible as they seem now sitting here, a lifetime away, and as much as I may miss them or even be happy they're behind me, it's good to be here at home, having lived a bit, now cooling my heels, and waiting to live some more.


Rhi said...

Looks like you had a pretty awesome thanksgiving. =) Always good to be home for the holidays.

Charli said...

Hi Matt! These are some really fun pictures!! I am a vegetarian, but I grew up on a turkey farm. I have not eaten meat in ten years, but I can still remember the delicious taste of turkey. This one looks particularly savory! I am glad you could be with your family for the holiday!

Linda S. Socha said...

Fun the cranberry coke shot. Love reading your blog Matt

Linda S. Socha said...

Hello Matt! I just wanted to stop by and thank you for your blog friendship and to express my appreciation for the sharing you do on your blog. I set up an award for you on my blog. The award, Superior Scribbler Award is listed with instructions for use. Please feel free to also pass it along to five blogger friends you may have or to simply display them on your blog like I hope you will plan to do. Please click here to get you there quick.

Matthew Fitzgerald said...

Thanks Rhi, Charli, and Linda for your kind comments. The turkey was amazing, all the more so because I got to spend the holiday at home with my family. Thanks for the blogging nods, Linda, I'll pass those on to some other worthy bloggers.

Anonymous said...

Matthew, i finally made it here.

That sure was a lot of trouble you went to cooking a The results looked mighty fine though.

I love the dinner place setting - pity there wasnt room for one more :)

Anonymous said...

Just dropping in to say hi and thanks for coming back :)

Leon Basin said...

It sure is!

Rhi said...

There are many awards that circulate among bloggers, and one that I received was the "Uber Amazing Blog Award." I'd now love to pass it on to you. =) The information and rules for the award are on My Blog. Thanks for being such a great blogging friend.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Matthew. I hope you had a wonderful day. X

Anonymous said...

Matthew thankyou, and im glad you accepted the invite :)