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Turkey, Demystified

In the spirit of making life better, let’s talk turkey. For many people, the prospect of cooking the holiday turkey is intimidating enough to make vegetarianism seem to be an immensely viable option. If that weren’t the case, there wouldn’t be all those Turkey Hot-Lines available for desperate, crazed people calling on that fateful Thursday every year. Roasting turkey involves a lot of time, a lot of fussing, and a lot of oven space. How are you supposed to bake the pie and cook the stuffing (you know not to cook it inside the bird lest you die of food poisoning, right?) when the turkey is in the oven for so many hours? Here are a few suggestions:


  • Grill the turkey

My cousin Elkan takes off his Very Big Lawyer hat on Thanksgiving and grills the best turkey in the world every year (and don’t even get me started on his divine Passover gefilte fish). Elkan’s recipe is from the New York Times from a long time ago. I can’t find the link, but here’s what you do: heat the grill to 500 degrees. Cook the turkey for six minutes per pound. That’s it. I’ve got to tell you, Elkan is onto something. By the way, don’t try to do this in the oven in your kitchen because the heat is so high that your smoke detectors will surely go into full hysteria mode.

There are other grilled &/or smoked recipes available, all of which look promising to me. You may want to check these out:

What if you don’t relish the idea of grilling when it’s below freezing outside? Or you don’t have a grill? No problem. Consider this option: 


  • Spatchcock* the turkey

In case you’re unfamiliar with this fantastical word, spatchcocking a bird means simply cutting out the backbone of the bird and then laying the bird flat. I do this all the time with chicken for grilling or roasting, and it’s always fantastic. Poultry shears are a most worthwhile investment for this task. Mark Bittman, who I think is the most enlightened food person in the world, has a great-looking recipe for this in the Times:

*the origin of the word “spatchcock” is uncertain and may have to do with eels. Let’s not even go there.

Last year, in our first Thanksgiving blog post, Jae (same great person, new and improved spelling!) and I talked about strategies that may help you navigate Thanksgiving and other holidays in such a way that you’ll still come out the other side with your emotional and physical well-being intact. We hope these recipes serve to add to the armamentarium of ways to cook and enjoy food with minimal stress so that you may experience Thanksgiving as the poet Louise Gluck described it: “…that vast, consoling meal.” In this, our second Thanksgiving post, we want to thank you for reading and for sharing. You have added to the richness of our lives.

One last suggestion: if you want to see the best, best, best Thanksgiving movie ever made, watch “Pieces of April.”

Happy Thanksgiving!