Turkey — love it or leave it?
This reminds me of a phrase “like it or lump it”, which I had never heard before I moved to Los Angeles. It has the same meaning as love it or leave it, but it adds a certain colorful implication of violence that simply leaving that which you don’t love just doesn’t have. California is a mixing pot or random, whacked out sayings that the rest of the country spews forth with the familiarity of a favorite book. These sayings make their way west and congeal over Los Angeles like cold turkey gravy. It’s truly a mixing pot of language.
I digress. On the subject of turkey, it’s not really the turkey that I love, it’s all of the accouterments in the same way that a sandwich isn’t normally about the bread, but what is in between. The bread in the sandwich turns sandwich fillings from chaos to order, making it portable so that you can eat it with your hands. Turkey is simply the bread in the feast known as Thanksgiving. It is the vehicle that allows us to have gravy and stuffing. And once you’re done with the pitiful little slice of dessicated bird, you get to have pie. For me, pie is the main coarse of Thanksgiving.
The problem with turkey is that most people don’t know how to cook it properly. The gravy isn’t simply, well, the gravy in this scenario; it is necessary to dilute the meat so that it’s not like eating cardboard. Step the first: Slice off a hunk of bird. Step the second: slather it in gravy, flipping it occasionally to make sure it’s covered evenly, and wait. Step the third: after the semi-liquid has had enough time to soften the meat, eat said meat as judiciously as you can, saving plenty of room in the stomach cavity for pie.
That being said, I’ve come around to the concept of turkey. If you cook it properly, it can be a joy to eat in and of its own. The key is basting… and bacon. I’ve had a long-standing, scientific hypothesis that bacon does, in fact, make (almost) everything better. This hypothesis was bolstered last year by the bacon turkey.
To make a plain old turkey into a turkey god, standing head and shoulders above all other domesticated game, cook the turkey regularly, basting it often. When it’s just about done, add delicious strips of bacon to its golden brown chest like Aegis, the shield of Athena. When the smell is so powerful that you would slice off your own leg and eat it rather than go another minute without bacon turkey, or when the bacon is crispy, remove the turkey from the oven. Make gravy in the normal way, but instead of just dessicated bird gravy, you now have bacon grease in there. B-A-C-O-N. Seriously, it’s the best turkey and gravy ever. Bacon might not make everything better, for example, coffee (which is perfect on its own), but it sure as hell improves the turkey.
However, there is one drawback to the culinary perfection of commingling beasts of feathers and non, the addition of bacon does make it incrementally more difficult to save room for pie, but I will gladly sacrifice pie room for thoroughly edible turkey and bacon.
Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appetit!