I am going to start my post today with an apology. I’m so very sorry. I didn’t know what I was thinking. How I could do something like that is beyond me? I have to blame the basic animal instincts I was born with, and just beg your forgiveness. Again, let me say just how sorry I am. Okay that should take care of that. Especially since I don’t mean a word of it. On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t have said that.
The reason I had to apologized is that my post is about cooking a turkey. I have friends who will say long and loud, turkeys are highly intelligent birds and should never be eaten. They chastise me all the time, so I figured if I got it out of the way early, the apology might appease them. If not, oh well, I tried.
You see, I like turkeys, and not just my cousin Ted and uncle Mike either. No, I am one of those weird sorts who cook turkey all the time. In fact, I make turkey six to eight times a year. Not all the same way either: I have baked, broiled, deep fried, bag-roasted, smoked, and barbecued turkeys at different times. I even dug a hole filled it with hot coals and buried a turkey once. That was some good eating. The longest time you can take to prepare a turkey is to soak it in brine for three days then put in in an oven at one-seventy for three more. People have died preparing the bird this way. The fastest is in a microwave, this is also the best way to make the meat the rubbery, for those of you who are taking notes.
Then there is the question of dressing or stuffing. I don’t like dressing, especially for dinner. Dressing for dinner is an old outdated custom that went out in the age of Queen Victoria. Oh, you thought I meant the bread crumb concoction that’s flavored with broth and made outside the bird. I don’t like that either. I like stuffing. There’s just something about shoving bread and spices inside the bird’s organ cavity and then pulling out the mess again after it cooks that makes me feel like a real chef. Charging fifty plus dollars a plate makes me feel the same way, but I can’t do that with my family.
The thing about stuffing is that there are millions of recipes for it. Some folks grind up the giblets and put it in the stuffing. You don’t know what giblets are? Giblets is a nice way to say, how can I say this, the stuff that was in the cavity before the bread crumbs. Stuff like the liver, heart, and gizzard. In other words, the yucky stuff, that you don’t want to know about, so they call it by a nice word you don’t understand like, giblets.
I like to put spicy Italian sausage in my stuffing, but I am not glued to that recipe. I have used cranberries, walnuts, mushrooms and apples, in the many stuffing’s I’ve tried. There’re even more recipes that I want to try. I even heard of a chef who killed his wife just before Thanksgiving. The folks that day got stuffing made with brioche crumbs, cashews, dates and victim. Well, I guess I won’t try that one right away, but I do like dates. Let’s just say it’s not in the top ten. Moving on.
Now, I acquired a twenty-four-point-five-pound bird and it was time to cook that puppy. The turkey not the puppy. Puppies are too stringy, but I digress. With such a large bird I had to invite the family to help in the eating. Also, when you cook a turkey you have to have fresh mashed potatoes. Why? I don’t know. You just do, so stop arguing and let me get on with this. Fresh mashed potatoes mean potatoes must be peeled. Extra people require way more potatoes and consequently way more peeling. I’ll give you one guess who got that job.
There I was, peeling potatoes and enjoying half of a dark ale. Why half? I use dark ale in the basting. I don’t know if it makes the bird taste better or moister, but when it reaches a hundred-sixty-degrees it starts singing, When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. It is a great way to know the thing is done.
Anyway, I was there and my father came in and looked sternly at me and asked me if I had another one of those. I gave him the peeler. He frowned, as was his way, and asked for an ale. I went to the fridge and got one then to the drawer and got my second peeler and the two of us went to work. Something happened in that moment. There were two men sitting over a trash can of potato scraps and we talked like never before. I remember we discussed hot sauce and bread and then laughed because we were doing it.
Later a friend came by and when he saw the ale, he wanted one to. My father insisted he had to work for his drink. So, I handed him my peeler and my friend went to work. I in turn, took to the task of cutting the tubers into pieces. As the ales were consumed the talk grew stranger. My friend and I told tales of performing for small children. My father for his part laughed at us and regaled on his time in the US Coast Guard.
There is a saying in my family: “Buying a single beer is a waste, and why buy six when twelve is cheaper by the ounce.” Well, I don’t want to say we drank our share, but by the time the potatoes were peeled, I know I was glad I purchased twelve ales. A thing I don’t know was who threw the first peels across the room. I do know My father was rolling on the floor when they hit me in the back of the head. Of course, I retaliated and was met with counter attacks. The conflict could have gone on for some time except my wife came into the room. She looked at us, shook her head, and turned away. We, all, three, knew it was over, or else.
Some skirmishes can be very bloody, this one was just a mess to clean up. However, the laughter never stopped. More of my family came by and we invited my friend to have dinner with us. Don’t worry there was still plenty of leftovers. Also, the potato peel fight lives in infamy in the history of my family.
I had never heard my father laugh so much. In fact, before that I had never heard my father laugh. A child of his generation, he was raised to provide a stern front and solid foundation for his children.
My father passed recently. I’ve read many blogs of paternal remembrance. Some say they remember the love and inspiration. Others say they wish they had more time to say, “I love you.”
For me, I will never forget the day my father laughed.
Thank you for laughing
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