The 11th month of the Gregorian calendar is both simple and problematic for denizens of the food-writing world.
The easy part is the subject: Thanksgiving.
The hard part is how to keep the coverage fresh for readers, who might on the surface say they want to do Thanksgiving with a twist but as the month winds down realize all they really want is to avoid making a feast so bad conversation never makes it to aunts, uncles and/or cousins who need to find a job, get married, respect his/her elders, get a haircut or some combination of the four. A dried-out bird might trump speaking in whispers about the hopelessness of the family prodigal(s).
So, in the end, we always rely on the tips and recipes we've come to trust while sprinkling in the occasional Thanksgiving recipe du jour.
Sherrel Jones will take the lead on our Thanksgiving coverage for the month with a three-part Oklahoma Table series. She will highlight local products while sharing the tried-and-true techniques she's used for decades.
Becky Varner discusses the lighter side of Thanksgiving options with a recipe for turkey breast seasoned with sage and cooked in a slow cooker.
We'll also share recipes from the Made in Oklahoma Coalition throughout the month.
Next week, we'll introduce classic and new sides. In two weeks, we'll concentrate on pies.
On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, it'll be too late to start, so we'll offer ideas for leftovers, tips on how to carve your turkey and ideas for brightening your Thanksgiving table.
Stick with us and we'll make sure your Thanksgiving feast not only keeps you out of the crosshairs of your most critical invitee, but leaves the host of your upcoming family Christmas feast dead from jealousy — which means you'll have to consult back with us in December.
Roasted turkey, unless it's made in one of Culinary Kitchen owner Claude Rappaport's TurboChef ovens, always leaves me longing for roasted chicken.
That is unless the bird is deep-fried.
Frying delivers a juicier bird in half the time, though it can be a fire hazard and weather might be adverse this time of year. Electric, indoor turkey fryers are a good alternative. But these products can be a mess. If you fry, have plenty of old newspaper around to soak up grease. If you need extra, I know a place where you can find them. Email me. You might want to practice this once before the big day if you've never done it before. The oil can be strained and reused.
1 12-14 pound turkey
3 to 5 gallons of peanut oil
1 pound of salt, preferably
1 cup salt
½ cup black pepper
½ cup garlic powder
1/3 cup chile de arbol
1 pound brown sugar, optional
• First, brine the turkey. You can do this in a cooler. If you've got an upright, that's even better. Heat enough water to cover the bird, mix with ½ to 1 pound salt. You also may add an equal amount of brown sugar. Stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Cool the water with ice, then put the turkey in and cover overnight, at least 8 hours. You might need to weight the turkey down.
• Before cooking, coat the propane line in soapy water, then turn on the gas. If water bubbles up, you might have a leak; go buy a smoked turkey ASAP.
• Put the bird in your pot and fill it with water until the water is about 2 inches above the bird. Remove the bird. The amount of remaining water indicates how much peanut oil you'll need.
• Dry out the pot and fill with the oil based on the water test. Heat the oil to 350 degrees; takes about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on your temperature and adjust it accordingly to maintain 350 degrees.
• Wash the bird thoroughly and pat dry, then season with salt, pepper and chile. When the oil is ready, lower the bird into the oil and cook for about 3 minutes per pound.
• Raise the bird and test its temperature with a meat thermometer. It's ready once you pass 165 degrees. Let cool 15 to 20 minutes.