At long last, I have wrested the Thanksgiving turkey making responsibilities from my Mother. For too many years, I have suffered through bland and bone dry turkey that was mostly edible through my Mother’s exceptional gravy making ability. Her method of cooking turkey is to wake up at some unspecified time on Thanksgiving morning (usually very early), stick the turkey in the oven, and then let it sit in the oven until it’s time to eat it. This could be early afternoon, middle afternoon, or early evening. It really didn’t matter when we ate, the turkey still went in the oven as soon as my Mom woke up. She did, however, had a test for when the turkey was done-the meat would fall away from the drumstick. Not entirely untrue but even if turkey was done, she still didn’t take it out of the oven.
I often wondered why my Mom would cook turkey in this manner. And finally, she told a story this year that made me understand. One Thanksgiving, probably before I was born, someone cooked a turkey but failed to cook it all the way through. My Grandmother was rather put out and I think my Mom has been trying to avoid her Mother’s ire ever since. And we’ve had dry turkey ever since.
Well, this year, I said I would make the turkey. Actually, I demanded to make the turkey. I assured my Mother repeatedly that the turkey would be cooked all the way through. I also had to repeatedly assure her that the meat would fall off the bone. And when the turkey came out of the oven, she was right there to wiggle a drumstick. I think she thought that was a better test of doneness than my digital probe thermometer.
The turkey was a great success. I used Alton Brown’s recipe and it was the juiciest, most flavorful turkey we’ve ever had for Thanksgiving. I heartily recommend it to anyone. Here’s a couple of pictures of the turkey before and after cooking. I’m already looking forward to Thanksgiving next year.