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November 29, 2008

The First Annual Neenuh Saves Thanksgiving

Is there anything more terrifying than hosting a conglomeration of your peers for a dinner on a day devoted to a certain fowl you've never handled in its flesh? For the purposes of this blog post, I'm going to answer my own rhetorical question with a resounding "No. There is nothing."

It started out being just me, the boyf and my big brother who were to gather at my extremely humble (read: mouse's shoebox-sized) apartment. Then six more Portland orphans said they wanted to come, two of whom later retracted that wish, so in the end we were seven. According to my father's turkey math, that meant a 15 pound bird. I agonized for weeks over the accompanying menu. Should I follow the Food Network's lead and make something irrestibly gourmet (but still a little gross) out of offal? Should I infuse my mashed potatoes with truffle oil? Would people laugh at me if I crowned the yams with a crust of gooey marshmallows?

In the end, I went traditional: my customary pear and goat cheese appetizers, a pear and toasted walnut salad, broiled asparagus, cranberry sauce with orange zest and gravy. Our guests contributed two kinds of stuffing, mashed taters, two kinds of pie and booze galore. I wanted to make rolls, but the stupid store didn't carry the delicious Pillsbury roll mix my ma favors, and that's the only flava I dig. I wanted to make my customary orzo with roasted vegetables dish, but I'm po' and the turkey was real spendy, yo. I wanted to make an elegant galette or meringue surprise for dessert, but, well, I just ain't got the skillz. So wha'? You don't know me! Sheeeeeet...

When the brother arrived from Montana on Wednesday night I put him to work preparing our fowl friend, whom I'd christened Giblets, while I supervised. I made sure he didn't miss any nooks or crannies as he washed the bird, and I helpfully dropped paper towels on it from a distance of three inches so he could pat it dry. I squeezed lemon juice, again from a safe three-inch height, on the bird's exterior whilst he handled moistening its innards. Same goes for the freshly ground nutmeg, salt and pepper: I sprinkled, he rubbed. Then Brother Bear covered Giblets with some plastic wrap and let him slumber for the night in the fridge. Lesson learned: you don't have to actually touch a turkey to make it, so long as your brother will let you have all the credit.

The next morning we encountered our sole catastrophe of the day. The rack that accompanied the roaster I purchased last weekend had handles so protrusive that we couldn't shut the oven door with it inside. Of course, we only discovered this travesty after settling Giblets ever-so-carefully boob-down on the offending rack, so we had to lift him up and away before improvising with a ring of tin foil. Phew. Crisis averted. After his first hour in the oven we began our campaign of slowly drowning him in 2/3 cup of wine every 20 minutes. Fast forward five hours and this is how he turned out:

The meat was practically jumping off the bones, my friends. Even the white meat was juicy and the image of perfection. Even our guest the professional chef was impressed.

We ate, we drank, we sang songs, we played charades, twas a resounding success. The end.


  1. Nutmeg, wine and lemon juice on a turkey? J'impressed, mon ami.

  2. You did good.

    And I need your recipe. I've never put wine on a turkey before.

  3. What's that white handle protruding from beneath the bird?