Bagging from the marinade, dressing the bird in cotton, Turkey in a T-shirt and gimmick. - Liberty

Monday, September 11, 2023

Bagging from the marinade, dressing the bird in cotton, Turkey in a T-shirt and gimmick.


The plastic turkey timer is just one of many innovations created to help Thanksgiving cooks.

America's constant drive to innovate led to the Constitution and the iPhone. But did it produce a better Thanksgiving turkey?

Even in colonial times, cooks debated how many inches to keep a bird from an open flame. Randolph, in "A Virginia Housewife," offered a tip to bake the bird in cold lard to crisp the skin.

A template was set when covered roasting pans and electric stoves arrived in American kitchens. Every Thanksgiving offered a new technique or gimmick that ensured the perfect turkey: driveline one year, wet brine the next. Self-busting bird, heritage bird, buttermilk bird. (We in the food section suggested three tweaks to a single turkey and plead guilty: driveline, spatch cocking, and a proper mayonnaise coating.)

The Sisyphean struggle makes sense. Once a year, cooks of all skill levels attempt to season a bird five times the size of a chicken deliciously, but under tremendous pressure from family traditions.

"Everyone wants Aunt Susie's famous chestnut dressing that's been on the table for generations, so people are looking for something new to do with the turkey itself," says the Gourmet ex. Editor-in-Chief Ruth Reichl said.

In an age of personal branding and global awareness, how you prepare your Thanksgiving turkey has become an expression of culture, status, and identity.

"It's like the clothes you wear and the music you listen to, right?" Christopher Kimball, the founder of both America's Test Kitchen and Milk Street, has researched many ways to cook a turkey. "People define themselves by whether they're a blazer, a roaster, a fryer, a barbecue. Everyone identifies with the turkey tribe."

You might recognize your tribe in this tour of turkey hacks that have come and gone over the years.

Baking bags are still a popular option, especially because cleanup is easy.

Roasting Bag

Cooking in paper bags simply became commonplace in the early 20th century. A Wisconsin newspaper reported in 1917: “We bought recipe books and never ran out of bags.” But in the 1970s, cookbook authors like Norma Jean and Carol Durden, who wrote "Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine," urged readers to put the stuffed turkey in a brown paper bag, smear it with vegetable oil, and roast the package. There was a growl when I gave the command. in a pan at 350 degrees. This, predictably, led to oven fires and quickly lost popularity to plastic baking bags.

Popup timers are a clever but unreliable gimmick.

Popup Timer

The first plastic gizmo stuck in many supermarket turkey breasts was designed by members of the California Turkey Producers Advisory Board who were looking for ways to make turkey easier to cook and more popular. Patented in 1966, the device relies on a plastic tube filled with a compound that melts when it reaches a specific temperature, releasing a small spring-loaded cylinder. The aim was to ensure that all meat earned at least 165 degrees, the government standard for killing germs. One downside is that timers are unreliable, says food historian and author Laura Shapiro.

"It's a solution that doesn't solve a problem," she said, adding that timers, like other strategies the food industry is pushing, have created a sense of crisis around Thanksgiving dinner prep.

Martha Stewart suggests using a clean white t-shirt soaked in butter and wine to keep the turkey moist.

Turkey T-shirt

One of the most enduring methods of modern turkey cooking was that in the mid-1990s the only way to make a proper turkey was to soak cheesecloth in butter and wine or stock and drape it over the turkey. Disseminated by Martha Stewart who claimed She wasn't the first to come up with the idea, as some 19th-century cooks used to wrap strips of lard-soaked cloth around poultry legs to keep them from over-browning or drying out. In a twist that gives new meaning to the term "turkey dressing," Stewart said in 2021, cooks should avoid wearing cheesecloth and use clean white T-shirts. instructed people.

Calling the Butterball Turkey Talkline, which began in 1981, has become a holiday tradition for many cooks.

Stove Hotline

The Butterball Company became famous for fortifying poultry in 1967 by infusing turkeys with brine to keep them moist. But its most enduring achievement and ingenious marketing gimmick are the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line. Butterball hired a company run by Chicago advertising man Daniel J. Edelman to help him sell turkeys, and in 1981, six home economists in a room with a phone offered advice on Thanksgiving cooking. has been placed. They handled 10,000 calls. This year, Butterball expects over 100,000 people to reach out via phone, text, chat, email, or Amazon Alexa. The number one question every year: How to defrost a turkey. (Answer: 1 day for every 4-5 pounds of body weight in the refrigerator. 30 minutes per pound in the cold water bath, but you should change the water every 30 minutes.)

The hotline may have deepened the anxiety of home cooks, solidifying the idea that roasting a turkey was too difficult and needed urgent intervention. is. Butterball advisors are researching all new techniques this year, including using air fryers. Also new this year is the free “Comfort Calendar,” which offers 24 days of expert advice and emotional support.

It's possible, but nobody recommends heating a turkey in the microwave.

New Wave Turkey

No one wants to cook a turkey in the microwave, but this idea deserves a mention. Because in 2018 it was the #25lbTurkeyChallenge, arguably the best Thanksgiving social media prank on record. Millennials hosting their first Thanksgiving texted their parents how long it would take to microwave a 25-pound frozen turkey and posted their responses online. (“Drunk???” replied one parent.)

If the bird is under 12 pounds, it can do the job, said Nicole Johnson, who has worked for Butterball Talkline for more than 20 years and has responded to some of these prank calls. "It's a lot of work. It takes a lot of time and you have to look after it," she said.

It's a risk, but frying a turkey can yield juicy results.

Cajun Connection

Great Louisiana is responsible for two of America's most distinctive turkey innovations. In 1984, Dale Curry, longtime food editor of The New Orleans Times-Picayune, published a recipe for Cajun fried turkey. The turkey is infused with the crab broth and dropped into bubbling hot oil in a propane-fueled pan typically used to boil seafood. Years later, the Association of Food Journalists held an annual convention in Louisiana to watch the process. I took the recipe home with the reader, with the caveat of

A less dangerous but more challenging Turdakken is boneless chicken stuffed into boneless turkey stuffed with boneless duck, with a layer of stuffing in between. There are competing origin stories, one involving New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme, but former N.F.L. commentator John Madden made it a star. In 1996, when Mr. Madden was in New Orleans for a Saints game, an enterprising butcher managed to get him one. Gourmet Butcher Block, the Gretna, Louisiana shop that sent Madden the first Turducken, plans to ship about 4,000 of the 17-pound wonders for $199 each this year.

Cookbook editor Lux Martin and her husband, author Barry Estabrook, took to Vermont's kitchen to tackle turkey.

Saline Solution

For nearly 20 years, chefs and food writers (myself included) have instructed Americans to figure out how to fill a beer cooler with brine and herbs, add turkey meat, and keep the whole thing cold for two days. Wet brine made the bird juicier, but too much can encourage a spongy deli meat effect. And it was painful. Whether you simply rub the turkey with salt (the dry-salting method codified by Bay Area chef Judy Rogers), buy an already-salted kosher bird, or go back to a self-busting bird is much better. It quickly became apparent that it was easy.

Putting a pre-salted turkey you get at the grocery store in a 325-degree oven is "actually a pretty good way to cook turkey as long as you don't overcook it," once endorsed Wet. Mr. Kimball, who was a brine. "If I had to choose one system, it's, you know, turkey for idiots."

Can you see the devil in this turkey? Many Gourmet readers did so in 2002.

Magazine Machine

It was set by the magazine in 1943 that expectations for the Thanksgiving meal were so high. The cover of The Saturday Evening Post featured Norman Rockwell's painting Freedom from Desire.

Magazines have continued to raise the stakes — most notably in the 1990s and early 2000s, when publications like Saveur, Food & Wine, Cooking Light and Bon App├ętit turned cooks into Cirque du Soleil acrobats. , changed the cook with a dizzying new procedure. , harbing, luring, smoking. Reichl, who oversaw Gourmet from 1999 until it closed in 2009, said: ”

Food websites are rated side by side on the cover. “I knew your turkey cover was going to be in the lineup, so it sucked,” recalls Dana Cowin, who spent 20 years as editor-in-chief of Food & Wine. Too much bronze, or not enough bronze?"

The rigor of cover scrutiny became apparent in 2002 when Gourmet published a tight cover shot of a trussed plum-glazed turkey. Just like believers who saw Jesus' face on a tortilla, some readers saw Satan's face on a black turkey skin. Complaints poured in. Norman Rockwell's turkey has come full circle.

This year may be the year to experiment with simplicity. The world is complex and competitive. Turkey may be a little dry. It may not look like a Rockwell painting. That's why God invented gravy, to quote food editor John Willoughby, who co-authored eight cookbooks and is a fan of dried turkey.