Wednesday, November 5, 2008

No MORE Turkey

Instead of killing a Turkey, I want to kill the 'tradition' of Turkey that Americans have latched onto, some even calling the day Turkey day...

I am sharing two accounts of the first "Thanksgiving" feast. First of all the feasting went on for days and all manner of foods were consumed. Secondly even if by some chance they consumed a wild turkey, that bird bears no resemblance to the plastic tasting artificial creatures that now grace our tables. It would likely have been stewed, not stuffed and roasted.

We all like idea and look of the Turkey, but honestly how many people panic at the thought of cooking one. How many are dry and not very good?

You can brine, salt, or deep fry all in the hope of having a moist juicy bird but most of you will fail.

Why bother?

The point is to celebrate the harvest before the scarcity of winter sets in. Be thoughtful, be thankful. Think about the farmer's who provide this bounty.

I know many personally...every thanksgiving I am thankful to David of Berkshire berries for the eggs, honey, real maple syrup and his wife Mary for her great low sugar jams.

To Franca at Berried Treasures I am grateful for the most wonderful, crisp, minerally, snapping green beans I have ever had in my life, along with a host of other good foods.

To Mike at Flying pigs Farm for the best bacon I have ever tasted along with natural lamb that puts all others to shame.

And of course to Ed and Carol of Treelicious for growing the snappiest apples, the most savory nectarines and a whole slew of other good fruits and vegetables.

These and other farmers who feed me throughout the year make me grateful and thankful, and my day is a tribute the the hardworking folks who put food on my table year round. When people casually refer to the day as Turkey day, I get offended. So this year I boycott the bird.

My first suggestion....Roast Goose. It has all the appeal of being brown and crisp and looking great on the table and it is really hard to mess up. Most cooks will get a moist delectable bird each and every time.
Purchase a nice goose (about 12 pounds) 3 days before Thanksgiving. If your local store does not stock them ask them to order one for you.

1 gallon apple cider
4 cups dark soy sauce

Mix in a large strong garbage bag and dump the goose in. Rotate in the refrigerator for two days, in a pan in case it leaks. Remove from bag and let the goose spend 24 hours on a rack in the refrigerator to dry the skin.

Poke holes in the skin and lightly salt and pepper. You can stuff and place on a rack above a large roasting pan with a couple of cups of water.

Roast 1 hour at 375

Prick the skin again and reduce heat to 250 roast an additional 4 hours.

Check, if it is nicely browned you can remove at this point. If you want a little more brown and crispy check to make sure there is still some water in the fat reservoir below the duck and turn heat up to 500 for 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let rest in the hot oven for an additional 10 minutes.

This will give you the look of a beautiful bird on the table with no dry breast meat that one must smother with gravy to choke down

Save that fat to fry potatoes and use those bones in a stock pot for some GREAT soups.

The following are the only two written accounts of the first season of thanks that currently exist.

Our corn [i.e. wheat] did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown. They came up very well, and blossomed, but the sun parched them in the blossom. Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercising in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.

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