Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Classic Thanksgiving dishes for holiday at home

Overall, 1993 was an exceptional year to be a fat kid. It was the year that Crystal Pepsi was introduced to your refrigerator shelves, Pizza Hut’s Big Foot pizza introduced to your palette and the magnificent NBA Jam introduced to your Sega Genesis (and, as a result, you were introduced to very few people). The birth of these triplets of amusement and inactivity provided this fat kid with what promised to be a year filled with hiccup hedonism; and except for a few setbacks — a cavity and a sticky B button — by the time November rolled around, there was every indication that this good fortune would continue into the New Year.

Alas, how chubbily naíve I had become! For on the day of Thanksgiving that year, the fates cruelly intervened in the form of travel misfortunes that are still painful to revisit. Instead of celebrating Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s home, my family would have to give our thanks in the cool and impersonal confines of a restaurant. This nasty turn of events raised some imperative questions: Where would I be able to immediately crumple over into a sprawled, gassy mass of fat kid after the meal? Would I be scolded for eating mashed potatoes with my fingers? Did the restaurant have a television? Who would be responsible for how much whipped cream I received on my pie?

A man named Lawrence would be our gracious server for that evening and, besides a slight moustache, he unsurprisingly proved to be a poor stand-in for my grandmother. However, Lawrence and my family collectively made the most of our unfortunate circumstances — he even let me do my own whipped cream — and the progeny of this misadventure were the indelible lessons that one should never travel on Thanksgiving day and more importantly that Thanksgiving is a holiday to be celebrated in a home with food prepared by someone you love, or whose name you at least know. Hence, with this column I urge everyone to celebrate Thanksgiving the way it was invented to be celebrated in 1621, an exceptional year to be a pilgrim and especially a pilgrim’s fat kid.


Classic Thanksgiving Turkey

Prep Time: 30-45 minutes

Brine Time: 4-15 hours (no work needed)

Roast Time: 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours (mostly unattended)

THE BIRD: Buy a turkey that is labeled “natural.” There are also “basted” or “self-basting” options; this means that these birds have been injected with ingredients intended to make the bird juicier and more flavorful but usually make it taste artificial. They would work in a pinch, but by far the best results come from a fresh and natural turkey that you brine yourself. In terms of pounds, figure that a turkey will yield two or three less servings than the pounds (i.e. a 15-pound turkey will yield about 12 servings).

THE BRINE: Brining your turkey is the essential method when roasting a Thanksgiving turkey; it will ensure that the bird is tender and juicy throughout. The basic brine formula is two cups kosher salt and two gallons of cold water. The bird should be immersed in this liquid for at least five hours or preferably overnight (not to exceed 15 hours).

THE PREPERATION: Remove the giblets from inside the turkey cavity and save for the gravy. Rinse the bird with cold water and then place in a large pot, bucket or cooler with the brine solution. Place the container with the bird in the refrigerator or outside if the temperature is below 40 degrees. Let stand. Before roasting, remove the bird from the brine and rinse with cold water; pat dry with a towel and let stand a while on a rack or towel so that it is thoroughly dry. Tuck the wings behind the bird and tuck the legs into the pocket of skin at the tail end then tie them together with kitchen twine to secure.

THE ROASTING: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and rub the bird thoroughly with butter. Line a rack (a V-rack should be used for it eliminates the risk of the bird rolling, and you can buy one for under $10 wherever kitchenware is sold) with aluminum foil and poke holes in it with a knife or fork so that juices can easily drip away. Place the rack in a large roasting pan and then place the turkey on the rack. Cover the bird loosely with a tent of aluminum foil and place in the oven so that it is centered. Brush the turkey with melted butter about every 30 minutes. Roast for three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half hours depending on the size of the bird (about three-and-a-half for 12 pounds and four-and-a-half for 20 pounds). About an hour before the turkey is to be done, remove the aluminum foil. The turkey is done when a thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 170 to 180 degrees.

THE RESTING: This is the least laborious yet the most temptingly difficult step of the process. It is essential that the bird rests for 30 to 40 minutes after it is removed from the oven. When it is done, transfer the cooked turkey to a carving board, lightly cover with a bit of aluminum foil, and let it nap.


* Turkey giblets
* 6 c water
* 2 quartered yellow onions
* 3 roughly chopped celery stalks with leaves
* 3 roughly chopped carrots
* 1 tsp salt
* 20 whole peppercorns
* 3 bay leaves

In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients and simmer over medium heat for one and a half to two hours. Strain and discard (if you want) everything except for liquid. Refrigerate until turkey is taken out of oven. This step can and probably should be done a day (or even a couple of days) in advance.

After removing turkey from oven, scrape the roasting pan and pour the drippings, etc. into a medium bowl. Let stand several minutes, then skim off most of the fat with a spoon. Shake one cup of the cold broth with about a half cup of flour in a covered container. Combine remaining cold broth and pan drippings in a saucepan and heat over high heat. When mixture is boiling, add the broth and flour mixture while stirring with a whisk. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for a few minutes. Stir with a whisk and add a bit more flour if it is not thick enough. Season with salt and pepper.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes (Serves 6-8)

* 2 1/2 lbs red potatoes
* 4 garlic cloves, crushed
* 4-8 tbsp butter
* 1 cup buttermilk
* salt and pepper

Clean the potatoes and peel off any rough spots or imperfections, however leaving most of the skin on. Cut them into equal sizes: half small ones, quarter large ones.

In a large saucepan, combine potatoes, crushed garlic cloves and enough water to cover by one inch.

Bring to a boil over high heat then add a palm full of coarse salt. Cover and reduce heat to medium and simmer (if the water returns to boiling, simmer uncovered) until the potatoes are just tender — a paring knife can easily slip in and out, after about 20 to 30 minutes.

When potatoes are fully cooked, drain the liquid while reserving the garlic. Return the potatoes and garlic to the pot. Add four tablespoons of butter, a healthy pinch of salt and ground black pepper, then mash using a potato masher or large spoon or fork. Add more butter if desired then mix in buttermilk a fourth cup at a time until mashed potatoes have reached the right consistency (you may not need the full cup). Possibly add more salt, pepper or butter to taste.

If you don’t want mashed potatoes with skin, substitute the red potatoes for Yukon gold and peel completely.

Pecan Pie

* 3 eggs
* 3/4 c dark corn syrup
* 3/4 c white sugar
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
* 03 tbsp melted butter
* 1 c pecan halves
* 1 nine-inch pie shell (e.g. Pillsbury frozen)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk eggs and then add everything except pecans and whisk together. Let stand for up to three hours.

Spread pecans on the bottom of the pie shell and pour mixture over them.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes on the center rack. The pie is done when the filling feels set (if you shake the pie a bit the filling jiggles but is not entirely liquid).

The recipe for Pumpkin Pie, although an absolute must for Thanksgiving dinner, was not included in this piece because honestly the recipe on the back of a can of pumpkin puree is more than satisfactory.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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