The Victor crew wondered why turkey for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is such a big meal in the United States. When you think of the Thanksgiving Day meal, it’s usually turkey and all that goes with it, like mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce.
The first Thanksgiving in 1621 between the Pilgrims and the Indians in the Plymouth colony consisted of foods native to the land. That would include waterfowl, venison, ham, lobster, clam, berries, fruit, pumpkin, squash, and wild turkey. By 1857, turkey had become a traditional part of the Thanksgiving dinner in New England. Under President Lincoln in 1863, Thanksgiving became a national holiday.
Turkey is so embroiled into our culture as a Thanksgiving staple that some call it Turkey Day. I’ve even heard people jokingly say, “Happy Bird Day”. In 1947, the National Turkey Federation started presenting the President of the U.S. with a turkey prior to Thanksgiving. They were prepared and eaten by the president up until 1989 where they have since been pardoned.
With Thanksgiving coming next week, the Victor crew found there are many, many ways to prepare and cook a turkey. There are many things you can add. We did some searching to see what some people were doing. Many are not healthy or recommended but you knew that!
For prep, some people use brine, some use dry brine, some use a dry rub, some put flavored butter, oil or mayo under the skin. Some put oil or butter on the skin with herbs. Some stuff the bird with stuffing (even though it is not recommended) and some stuff with more herbs, vegetables, or even clementines or apples. Some people use a glaze or marinate or baste while it’s cooking. You can weave bacon and put it on top. Then there’s the classic White Castle hamburger stuffing (see video below). Inject it with vodka. Here’s a recipe for a turdunkin’ – using Dunkin’ Coolatas in the brine.
For cooking, there is baking, roasting, convection roasting, frying, air frying, smoking, cooking on a grill, slow cooking. I have even tried cooking breast side down on a rack as it’s supposed to make the breast juicier. You can’t leave it that way or it will look like the Michelin man. You can dehydrate it or make jerky. Cook it on a beer can upright and with the can shoved into the cavity. Make a turducken. You can spatchcock it – cut in half part-way through and cook opened up. There’s always sous vide – boiling it in a bag.
We’ve talked about food waste but have you thought about the waste of turkey on Thanksgiving because you bought too big a turkey? Keep in mind, a serving of meat is about 3-4 ounces (ha – it’s Thanksgiving – who does that?) So figure 4-8 oz or 1/2 to 1 cup of proteins. Most chefs recommend a pound of turkey per person to account for bone and skin. Some opt for 1 1/2 pounds per person so they will have plenty of leftovers.
To further keep your waste to a minimum, consider leaving some meat on the bones and making a soup. Just put all those bones in a big pot and cover with water. You can add some bouillon (we like Better than Bouillon) to make it more flavorful. After the bones have cooked about 1-1 1/2 hours, remove the bones and let them cool so you remove the meat. Add carrots, celery, the turkey you removed from the bones, onion if you like, and some spices like sage or poultry seasoning. You can also add other vegetables like spinach or fresh green beans. When it comes back to a light boil, add noodles or other small pasta.
We’ve probably all at one time had a classic green bean casserole around the holidays. Especially on Thanksgiving. The classic recipe serves 6 people. Made with regular condensed cream of mushroom soup, it costs you 227 calories, 15.4 grams of fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 3 grams cholesterol, and 624 mg sodium.
This year, a member of the Victor crew was asked to make one. Knowing this was not a healthy dish, we set off to find healthier alternatives. We’ve decided to try Cauli “Cream” Green Bean Casserole. This recipe makes 14 cups. Each 3/4 cup serving is only 70 calories, 3 grams fat, and 360 mg sodium. The crispy sauteed shallots replace the french-fried onions and the cauli cream replaces the soup. We are hoping for a good alternative with this dish.