Georgia's State Flags,
Home of Good Eats
|[AB is reading the fictitious book, "Big Book of Phobias"] Greetings, Americans. Did you know that of the hundreds of officially recognized phobias, dozens concern food and or cooking? Admittedly, most of these phobias such as consecotaleophobia [fear of chopsticks] or lechanophobia [fear of vegetables] and alliumphobia [fear of garlic] are rather far fetched. There is one with which I can sympathize, diemeleagrisphobia [fictional], fear of the day of turkey. Those who suffer diemeleagrisphobia are terrified of Thanksgiving, specifically the Thanksgiving meal, the mere thought of which propels the sufferer into a sickening, vertiginous swoon. How do I know? [pulls out a necklace] Because I am a diemeleagrisphobic.||
Years of Thanksgiving therapy have helped me to realize that what I'm really afraid of isn't what lurks behind this [refrigerator] door, it's what lurks behind this [dining room] door.
MARSHA: [bursts in] I, I'm trying to finish the place
cards. Now, do you think I should glue on the adorable harvest scarecrow, or,
or, or, ... yes ... turkey feathers?
AB: [perturbed and deadpan] Gee, Sis. I don't know. Why not both?
M: [very pleased] We have so got that psychic-sibling thing working. [exits]
"Psycho"-sibling is more like it. Alas, it
'tis the family I fear. It's all the stress that comes from trying to make all
of those people happy at the Thanksgiving table. It's enough to crack the
toughest egg. [calming down] But you know what? It doesn't have to be that way.
And this year, it's not.
[sits down at table with the items he will prepare this episode] Behold, a sumptuous turkey, luscious giblet gravy, a root-vegetable panzanella—that's Italian for salad with bread—dreamy, light, whipped potatoes. And for dessert, pecan pie. A darn fine feast which you could easily augment with Good Eats Award Winning green bean casserole [Bean Stalker episode], or our cranberry sauce [Cran Opening episode] delivered to the scene, perhaps, by a caring guest or family member. You could even make room for yet another congealed salad, but that's another show*.
Now, what if I told you that this basic meal could be yours if you just follow our simple master plan. And that, come turkey day, the bulk of the meal could be executed in around four hours with minimal fuss, minimal headache, minimal drama, hmm? Just give us one short hour of your viewing time and we will turn your diemeleagrisphobia into ...
[Good Eats theme]
T DAY COUNTDOWN
4 DAYS, 00 SECONDS
Behold, our Turkey Day countdown clock, which is set for four days. But before we can set that into motion, we need to secure the star of the show. I speak, of course, of a turkey. And luckily, I have an inside source for this sort of thing.
[AB is standing on the corner, looking around, looks at his
[Chuck pulls up in his Turkey-Mobile, now upgraded to Chuck's Cluck Truck, see Romancing the Bird, Scene 10]
Remember my neighbor, Chuck, who had this crazy idea about turkey truck back in the late 90's? Well, it turns out it wasn't so crazy after all.
CHUCK: The turkey market has changed in recent years and
consumers have a lot more choices than it used to have. Our entry-level
turkey, Chuck's Original, a Broad Breasted White, bred to grow fast and
develop big ... you know.
Broad Breasted White
AB: Yeah, I know. But you know, the way I see it, the standard
issue factory-grown, broad-breasted is really just kind of like a big chicken,
only with less
C: A more discriminating buyer might wish to sample a heritage variety.
AB: Ah, heritage...
... direct decedents of the indigenous turkeys of North and Central America.
C: Eight varieties are recognized by Chuck's, including the Burbon Red, Bronze, Royal Palm, Black, Narrangansett, Slate, White Holland, and Beltsville Small White. And we've got them all deep-chilled, never frozen.
Beltsville Small White
The typical heritage turkey has a lower meat-to-carcass ratio than a traditional farm raised bird and they tend to be a little on the gamey side.
C: Stronger flavor, yes, but in a good way. It takes
seven or eight months to reach market weight. And they just spend that time
wandering around and eating bugs and stuff. So they develop more flavor.
AB: Space plus time equals money.
C: Mr. Brown, can you really place a price on satisfaction on [sic, of] flavor?
AB: Yes, and it's not eight dollars a pound. Tell me about your kosher turkeys.
C: Ah, typically the same breed as Chuck's Original: access to the outside, no antibiotics, and all processed under rabbinical supervision.
And then soaked in a brine, which increases the weight, which increases the cost.
C: Mr. Brown, you know how it is. I've got stock
holders to answer to.
AB: Yeah, don't, don't we all. Alright, what about, what about the organic?
C: Ah, not breed dependent. Raised on 100% organic feed, access to outdoors, no antibiotics, certified organic.
CHUCK'S CLUCK TRUCK
PER POUND CHUCK'S ORIGINAL 1.99 CHUCK'S HERITAGE 8.00 CHUCK'S KOSHER 4.99 CHUCK'S ORGANIC 6.50 CHUCK'S FREE RANGE 4.75 CHUCK'S ALL NATURAL 4.25 CHUCK'S "PASTURED" 3.99
ALL BIRDS FRESH FROZEN OR DEEP CHILLED
ASK ABOUT CHUCK'S SELF BASTING BIRDS
AB: Hey, you know, it says, "ask about Chuck's self
basting birds." What's a, what's a self basting bird.
C: [bends down and brings up a huge injection needle system] We inject them with a tasty marinade, my own formula. It's perfectly legal.
AB: Perfectly bizarre is what it is. I tell you what, tell me about your free range turkeys.
C: Access to an open area.
AB: Yeah, but access doesn't mean they actually go outside.
C: I don't make the rules. [points the injection system at him]
AB: Okay. Okay. I don't either. It's, it's cool. Tell me about your, your, all-natural turkeys.
C: No artificial ingredients or colors.
AB: What kind of artificial ingredients can be in a turkey?
C: [gestures the injection needle he's still holding]
AB: Ah. Got it. Okay, let's just put that, let's just put that down. And tell me all about this "pastured" bird.
C: Ah, a Broad Breasted White, raised like a Heritage with plenty of pasture, natural foods, not rushed-to-market weight, rich, flavor, firm texture.
AB: Nice. Available fresh?
C: Never below 26 degrees.
AB: Deep chilled?
C: Held between 24 and 26 degrees.
C: Below zero degrees.
I like going with a frozen bird because they tend to resist mishandling. If you've got time to thaw, I'd go frozen. If not, deep-chilled will do just fine.
C: [returns with the bird] Ah, great. Now there is a nice 14 pounder.
Fourteen pounds is perfect. Any larger and it takes too long to cook. So long, that it could dry out. If you need more bird, buy another bird or perhaps ...
C: ... a boneless breast, a huge seller for us. It's been
great getting together with you again, Mr. B. Say "hi" to the whole hood for me.
AB: I will.
C: Gobble, gobble.
AB: Gobble, gobble. Gobble, gobble?
C: [drives off]
For refrigerator thawing: park unwrapped bird in tray on bottom shelf one day for every 4 pounds.
Behold, my thawing rig. As you can see, the frozen turkey still in its original wrapping, has been placed inside a medium to large cooler, with enough cold water to cover by a couple of inches. Now since frozen turkeys float, I have placed a piece of plastic coated metal chain on top to serve as an anchor. You may improvise as you see fit. Notice, please, that the cooler has a drain spout, which allows the water to drain into the sink, into which I have placed just enough cold water to cover this $30 pump typically used to power those annoying waterfall devices suggested by feng-shui experts. I got that at the hardware store. The fountain pumps the water back from the sink to the top of the cooler via plastic hose. Now since it can move about 200 gallons an hour, this is quite a bit of convection and the water will not be wasted. If my math is correct, I figure we should be able to thaw a full-sized turkey in six to seven hours, a considerable time savings.
MARSHA: Fountains bring the energy of water into any
space. And water is an ancient symbol of wealth and prosperity. And it diffuses
healthy, negative ions into the air.
AB: I'm feeling negative enough already, thanks.
M: You realize your chi is seriously out of whack.
AB: Oh, oh, I've got something out of whack. But it ain't my chi.
M: Fine. Don't maximize your energy. See if I care. [exits]
In order for this system to run
unattended, it needs to be in equilibrium, meaning that the pump doesn't pump
more than the cooler can drain and vice versa, I think. To make sure that
everything is, you know, hunky-dory, I like to place a ruler right here in the
sink. Now if you see that the water is draining out of the sink too quickly, you
can always place a little clamp on the hose to just kind of stop it down a
little bit and slow the pump. If on the other hand you find the pump can't keep
up with the cooler, you can always change the diameter of that spigot by just taking a
piece of aluminum foil, folding it over poking a hole in it, and sticking it
back behind [the hole opening in the water.] With a little
bit of finessing, you should
be able to come up with a perfectly balanced system every time.
While we wait on the thaw, we can move to yet another aquatic demonstration, although this one will be a little more conceptual. This has to do with my favorite poultry augmentation method. I speak, of course, of brining, that is soaking something in a salt solution. Brine is good. Brine works. Here's why.
Think of a turkey as a big 'ole sponge, alright? It's got a good bit of moisture in it when it comes, you know, home from the store. Roast it, however, and the heat quickly squeezes out the moisture leaving the turkey dry and chewy.
|However, if you take that very same meaty sponge and soak it first in a brine, everything changes. The salt in the solution will at first pull moisture out of the bird via osmotic pressure. But given time, a fair amount of that solution will seep back into the bird making it actually heavier than it was when you got it.||
Now besides providing seasoning to the inner meat of the bird, this salt will also denature or unravel some of the proteins in the meat, forming a kind of gel-like mesh that will actually hold on to water. Thus, brined birds are moister when they come out of the oven, and they taste a whole lot better, too.
|Is there a down side to brining? Well, although brined birds are juicy, over-brined birds can be mushy. Their skin rarely crisps up in a satisfactory manner. And their drippings are far too salty to make gravy. Is there an answer to this problem? Of course, get rid of the water.||
|Fetcheth forth your favorite spice grinder—[holds one up] alright, it's a coffee grinder—and spin yourself up a dry brine or a cure. Now we will begin with three and a half tablespoons of kosher salt, okay? Technically that's three tablespoons plus a teaspoon plus half a teaspoon. Seems like a lot, but keep in mind this is the number 2 ingredient after water in any brine. We will also be adding flavors: a teaspoon and a half each of dried thyme—very nice—and rubbed sage.||
3½ Tbs. Kosher Salt
1½ tsp. Dried Thyme
1½ tsp. Rubbed Sage
Now if you've ever wondered why it's called "rubbed" sage, it's because it's produced by rubbing the semi-dried leaves of Salvia officinalis through a screen so that the fuzzy, furred tricones which contain most of the flavor, are removed. Yes, I rub my own, but I'm kind of a freak that way.
|We will also add one and a quarter teaspoons of whole, black peppercorns and half a teaspoon of allspice berries which I pretty much use in every brine I make. Process until a fine powder results.||
1¼ tsp. Whole Black
½ tsp. Allspice Berries
|Well, the thaw is complete, and in record time, I might add. The dry rub or cure has been prepared. But a challenge remains. It is, of course, the cooking time. Without the added fluid of a liquid brine, we're going to have to cook the bird faster in order for it not to dry out. And barring some new development in heat technology, there is only one solution: we're going to have to double the surface area. [out of the side of his mouth] Dr. Brown, surgery. Dr. Brown, surgery.||
14 Pound Pastured
The first step is to remove the neck from
the body cavity where the guts ought to be. And then remove the giblets or guts
from the neck cavity where the neck ought to be but isn't. Don't ask me why.
Now flip your bird breast-side down. What we're planning to do is butterfly the bird or spatchcock using a saw or serrated knife if you prefer. Or just a pair of heavy shears which is usually what I do. It takes a little more hand pressure, but it's just as efficient as one of the other methods. Snip down one side of the backbone. Then turn the carcass the other direction, kind of get hold of the neck and snip up the other way. But don't throw away that back, [breaks it in half] we'll be using that in the stock later. Now, flip the bird and compress the keel bone, gently, in order to flatten. [spreads out the legs, places both hands on the keel bone and presses down hard] There you have it, a butterflied or spatchcocked turkey.
Now, we will sprinkle half of our spice mixture on the inside or the body part, and then flip the bird and rub on the rest of the goodness.
[at the refrigerator, the bird is on a 11x17 inch sheet pan on top of parchment paper] Deposit your bird breast-side up in the bottom of the fridge, uncovered for four days. Now this is a modified dry aging process like the one employed by practitioners of Peking Duck, a dish known for intense flavor, meaty texture and insanely crunchy skin. Your patience will be rewarded.
And now, finally, with our bird resting peacefully, we activate our 4 day countdown clock. Actually, 3 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 54 seconds from right now, the feast will be served.
There are two written records of the
Neither mentions turkey.
GUEST: Colonel Boatwright
It's 2 days until T-Day and all through my
The family is invading like a rabid gorilla.
And yet in my tummy I do not feel hasty,
Because I know that the feast will be on time and tasty.
MARSHA: We've got a situation, Bro.
AB: Oh, what did you run out of craft supplies?
M: Never. Aunt Sophie drove her Scootaround into the shower.
AB: That's nice.
M: She thought it was an elevator and now she's stuck.
AB: Well, good. Then she can't do anymore damage.
M: Look, are you going to help or not?
AB: No. Let Uncle Bob help.
M: Some help he is. He turned the shower on her.
AB: Ha, ha, ha! He's always been my favorite.
M: You know what? Actually, you know what? Fine. Don't worry. You lay there. Marsha will take care of it, as usual. [exits]
Marsha, Marsha, Marsha, Marsha. You know, I wouldn't even let Aunt Sophie in the driveway with that Scootaround thing of hers were it not for the fact that she makes spectacular spiced pecans, a holiday staple in the South. Now some folks just bowl 'em up and serve 'em up. But not me. No. I also use them as fodder for the finest pie the South has ever known. I speak, of course, of pecan pie.
[PIE FAMILY TREE]
|-Custard Pies (Egg)+-Pumpkin | |-Quiche | |-Cheesecake/[English]--Cheeseless | | |-Cheese Pies | |-Chess Pie+-Buttermilk | |-Sugar | +-|-Brown Sugar--Shoofly Pie | Pecan Pie-| |-Nuts | +-|-Syrup | |-Jefferson Davis | |-OsGood | |-Chiffon/Mouse (Gelatin)+-Black Bottom | |-Chocolate Mousse | |-Lemon Chiffon | |-Cream Pie+-Coconut | |-Banana | |-Chocolate | |-Meat Pie+-Cottage | |-Shepherds | |-Chicken Pot | |-Cape Breton Pie | |-Fruit Pie+-Apple | |-Blueberry | |-Peach | |-Pizza Pie | | +PIE
Now, on the pie family tree you will find pecan pie up in the Chess pie subfamily. Now chess pies are an intensely sweet group of pies built upon a base of eggs, butter and syrup to include molasses or sorghum if you're really from the sticks. Now the moniker, chess, is a reference not to a brainy board game, but rather to the old English "cheese" pie which oddly enough contains no cheese at all, but rather a filling of sugar, butter and eggs that sets like a cheese curd. Best of all, chess pies can be made way ahead.
|Although my pecan pie can be assembled with any good short crusts, since pecans are relatively high in fat, I see no reason not to integrate them into the crust itself. Now for this, we will require three and a half ounces, by weight, of non-spiced pecan halves or pieces. It doesn't matter because they're all going in here [food processor].||
3½ Ounces Pecan Halves Or
MARSHA: Hey, Bro. Where do you keep your cutting
AB: Uh, the garage.
MARSHA: Oh, right.
Alright, we also need six ounces of all purpose flour, four tablespoons of butter straight from the fridge, two ounces of ice water and half a teaspoon of kosher cutting torch? Oh, bother. [exits quickly]
COLONEL BOATWRIGHT: [enters, obviously one of the
family guests] Oof. Well, I suppose that'll keep that boy busy for some time. He
don't know nuthin' about no pee-can pie no how. You come over here with me now,
Well the first thing we got to do is chop up these here pee-cans. He's got them all here in this lawnmower contraption. I, I don't quite know how to work one of these things. I suppose we hit this here button that says 'pulse' on it. Well, I don't know. I think my pulse could use something right about now. [pulls out a whisky flask] If you know what I mean.
NURSE: Well there you are, Colonel. You know it's time for your n...
CB: [operates the food processor over the Nurse's sentence] I'm sorry. Did you say something?
N: I said, it's time for your ...
CB: [does it again] It just went off. I don't know. Please do repeat.
N: It's time for your ...
CB: [and again]
N: Colonel, you are just plain evil.
CB: Ah, now don't be that way. Don't go away mad, just go on away there with yourself.
Alright, now, we've got those nuts all taken care of. We'll put that flour in here. Some nice soft Southern flour. [flour puffs up] Boy, it's like a party back in the 1980's, I declare. And some of that salt there. That just make it taste better. [lids up] Alright, and we're going to hit that pulse button again. Ah, that's kind of fun when you get the hang of it.
6 Ounces All-Purpose
½ tsp. Kosher Salt
|Alright, now here we go with the butter. [coughs at the flour in the air] That's a lot of flour. Alright. It's very important that your butter be very cold, or it'll get all melty in there and make your crust tough. And that's not ... that ain't no good. Alright. There we go. There we go. Alright. Now.||
4 Tbs. Unsalted Butter,
|We need to put some liquid in there. We've got some, two ounces of water? That'll make you rust. We've got to rid of some of that. Come on. Hold it there a second. Hold on. Hold on. [pours some out] Aw, that's a little more like it. Now what we're going to do is we're going to add a little bit of Kentucky 'corn' [bourbon] to that for flavor and to make it very, very tender. It'll also help the afternoon go by a little better. You know, we could have a good time if that woman would just relax a little bit. Ooof. I declare. She's got some kind of cat blood in here or some such. There we go.||
2 Tbs. Cold Water &
[lids up again] Alright, now the key to
this is you just don't want to work it too long, now or you'll make your crust
tough. So we'll just push that button a few times. Look it that go! My goodness.
The modern age is some kind of magnificent. Alright. [takes it off] Here we go.
We're going to go over to the refrigerator, now. Here we go. Here we go. Come
[at the fridge] Well now. Well, I see you [in the back of the fridge] Hee, hee. Now when that dough's all crumbly, you put it in a bag and kind of mash it into a ball and flatten it out good like that. Put it in here for about half an hour so that dough can hydrate.
CB: What's that?
N: You have GOT to ...
CB: ... to come take my sponge bath. I think you're right. Here I come now. Come on. [exits]
[back to AB at the fridge] What was that
old geezer doing in here? Did he ... [notes the dough]. Let me guess. He put
bourbon in it, right? Oh, well. Probably a good idea. Fine. We shall move on to
Just barely melt four tablespoons of butter, on high, in the microwave for 30 seconds. It tends to pop as the small water droplets inside expand. So if you're the cautious type, you might want to cover loosely with a paper towel.
|Alright, crank your hot box to 350 degrees.||
|And then assemble the filling by whisking together three large eggs with half a cup of sugar, a quarter teaspoon of kosher salt, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, a tablespoon of bourbon and then a secret ingredient.||
3 Large Eggs
½ Cup Sugar
¼ tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 Tbs. Bourbon
English bakers don't really have a tradition of reaching for corn syrups the way Americans do. They use golden syrup, which is sugar cane juice that has boiled down and treated wich acids that split some of the disaccharide sugar molecules into the monosaccharides glucose and fructose. As a result, golden syrup has a very distinctive color, and a roasty, toasty flavor that is perfect for pecan pie. Although it can be a little tough to find in modern mega-marts, it is out there. And you can certainly get it on the web. Oh, the darker version which is called black treacle, is like molasses. Way to strong for this application. Stick to the golden stuff.
2 Days, 7 Hours, 35 Minutes, 00 Seconds
Albany, Georgia is the pecan capital
United States, with over 600,000 trees.
GUESTS: Itchy and Twitchy
|And so finally, the six ounces, by weight, of golden syrup goes into the pie filling along with—[microwave beeps] perfect timing—the four tablespoons or two ounces of melted butter. Excellent.||
6 Ounces, By Weight,
4 Tbs. Unsalted Butter
Alright, it is time to fetch forth the dough. Now you are,
of course, free to roll this any way you like. But if you are in any way
squeamish about working with such a delicacy directly on the counter, I would
suggest rolling it inside the bag. This is a 64-ounce zip-top, and I would use an
older one because you will have to sacrifice it along the way.
In fact, we are going to sacrifice it right now. Use either a knife or scissors to slit down both sides of the bag. Open and lightly flour the disk, then flip and apply flour to the other side as well. We need all of the lubing that we can use. Then grab a rolling pin—I like this French style—and turn the bag, rolling constantly until you've got that disk about 11 inches wide.
Then, grab yourself a 9.5 inch fluted tart pan. These are available in most kitchen stores, and we've actually used them on pies before. Place the bottom in the middle of the disk, flip over [while still in the bag], and then using the plastic, kind of fold the remaining overlap onto the disk so that you can place it down inside the fluted part of the pan. Then just unfold the sides—it doesn't have to be pretty—and crimp right into those fluted areas.
|Then pour in six ounces of chopped pecans, spiced if at all possible, evenly distribute, and then top with your filling. And once that's in you're going to want to give it a jiggle just to make sure that there are no air pockets. Very nice. There's one now. Good.||
6 Ounces Spiced Pecans,
Alright. Carefully transfer to the middle of the oven, and bake for 20 minutes. Now you might be wondering why I would use a two-piece, two-inch tart pan for a pie. Well, have you ever tried to cut a piece of pecan pie out of a standard pie dish? [shows one that's fallen apart] This is not going to happen to me or you. Not today it isn't.
|When 20 minutes has passed, grab yourself a cooling rack and put your hot pie upon it. Then take two more ounces of spiced pecans—these are whole, unlike the six ounces that we chopped—and simply ring the crust to make a pretty design. Ah, that's nice.||
2 Ounces Spiced Pecans,
Then bake until the internal temperature at the very center of the pie reaches 200 degrees. That should take about 10 additional minutes.
Remember, if the pie isn't a little
when it comes out it is overcooked.
Now as soon as the pie has cooled or almost cooled, you'll be sorely tempted to dive right in. But resist you must. This pie is not ready to cut. First we need plastic wrap [to cover it] and then the cool-ah [freezer]. Freeze your pie for a minimum of 8 hours and, well, I'd say a maximum of about two weeks. When it is firmly, uh, well, firmed, remove the plastic, disassemble the pan, carefully, and then use a knife—I like a serrated knife—to remove the bottom round of the pan, leaving you with just the pie. There. We don't want to cut on that. Then use the very same knife to simply chop down into 8 very even pieces. Look at that! Narry a nut out of place. It's a wonder. Perfect. Refrigerate until serving or serve at room temperature. And don't worry: unlike starch-stabilized pies, this one will not leak or weep one bit. Nope, it won't.
Thank Sarah Hale, the 19th century
magazine editor who campaigned to make the day official.
23 Hours, 59 minutes, 59 seconds
Alright, it's now the day before Thanksgiving. The pie is done, the turkey comfortably resting. And, you know, besides trying to avoid my family, there's not a whole lot to do. We can, however, get a jump on some of the vegetable items.
|So peel yourself four pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes—medium starch potatoes, of course—and slice them as thinly as possible. A mandolin would be the best tool for this job.||
4 Pounds Yukon Gold
ITCHY & TWITCHY: [enter wearing a Kevlar glove and holding a mandolin hand guard]
And yes my attorneys insist that you use either the provided hand guard or a Kevlar impregnated glove for safety sake.
I & T: [exit]
So, once you have them cut, you move the
potatoes to an eight quart container, and cover with at least a gallon of cold
[at the fridge] Alright, park your spuds in the fridge overnight. This will give time for the water to wash excess starch off of the surface of the slices. Starch that could—were it to end up in the pot—lead to gummy, whipped potatoes. Never good eats.
[at the counter] Next on our roster, cut eight ounces of hearty sourdough or multigrain bread into about half-inch cubes. It's typically half of a standard loaf. And don't worry about removing the crust. Then spread in a single layer on a sheet pan and park in the oven overnight to dry. If you need your oven for some other chore, just leave it out on a clean expanse of counter. That'll be fine.
Now do not try to use sandwich bread for this application. It will actually mold before it stales enough for use in this dish.
23 Hours, 30 Minutes, 00 Seconds
Now here we are at 23:30, basically. Time
to mince two cloves of garlic, and then peel a pound and a half of parsnips and
cut into pieces. Then repeat that with a one and a half pound of rutabaga, one
small red onion and eight ounces of Brussels sprouts. One nice large knife
should do the trick. There. [everything is cut using
the knife except for the sprouts] As for the Brussels sprouts, I've got a better idea.
That idea, of course, is the food processor fitted with a shredding blade. I should only have to load up the feed tube a couple of times to manufacture perfectly shredded Brussels sprouts. Yes, you could do this, of course, with a knife. But when you've got this little baby, why in the world would you?
[at the fridge] The parsnips and rutabagas can be combined and refrigerated. Everything else should be chilled in separate containment. After this, there's nothing to do but kick back and make some precious memories with family and friends ... if you can.
4 Hours, 1 Minute, 30 Seconds
Alright, kids. Turkey Day, t-minus four hours and change. We are in the pipe, on the glide slope. All is well. Time to start the gravy which would traditionally include ...
SID MAXBURG: [making a loud entrance] Giblets! I just
AB: So Sid, the Food Super Agent, is now representing ...
SM: ... giblets! I've got heart, AB. I've got gizzards. I've got liver. I've got it all.
AB: You know, since I've met you, Sid, you've represented** sweet potatoes, vanilla, okra ...
AB & SM: ... slimy ...
AB: ... Brussels spouts and now ...
SM: ... giblets! Yes. From the French word, "gi-blaaaahhh" meaning "stew of game" or something like that.
AB: Yeah, but didn't the English adopt the very same word ...
SM: ... giblets ...
AB: ... to mean a useless appendage?
SM: Ah, pish posh. I have 10 pounds of top quality giblets compliments of the Giblet Council of America. [opens up the cooler where angelic voices are heard and bright light emanates]
AB: You've got to be kidding.
SM: I never kid about work. Highly perishable, though. [to us] To maintain full flavor, keep tightly wrapped and store in the bottom of your refrigerator.
AB: What exactly am I supposed to do with 10 pounds of ...
SM: ... giblets! What can't you do? Ice cream, soup, fondue, loaf. "The sky is the limit when you've got giblets." When's the feast?
AB: Four hours.
SM: Fine. I'll be watching the game. You do have HD, don't you?
Giblets are defined as the heart,
gizzard of a poultry carcass.
GUESTS: Camera Woman, Sound Guy
|At t-minus four hours and counting, we move to the gravy phase. Place a 6.5 quart stockpot—that's basically a medium pot—over medium heat and lube with a tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil.||1 Tbs. Canola Oil|
|When that oil shimmers in about a minute, load in the reserved turkey neck as well as the two back pieces [two because he broke it in half] and brown thoroughly turning often. It will take five to six minutes.||
1 Turkey Neck &
Then we add the reserved ...
SM: [from off camera] ... giblets!
That's right, the giblets, along with a small onion, carrot and a stalk of celery, quartered, and a heavy pinch of kosher salt. Continue cooking for five minutes or until the vegetables start to tenderize.
1 Set Giblets
1 Small Onion +
1 Carrot + 1 Stalk
¼ tsp. Kosher Salt
|Then add one teaspoon of whole peppercorns, one bay leaf, one sprig of rosemary, and two sprigs of thyme. Then six cups of water, filtered water if at all possible. Put on the lid and bring to a boil. When you achieve said boil, back the heat down to a bare simmer, and keep it there for one and a half hours.||
1 tsp. Whole Black
1 Bay Leaf
1 Sprig Fresh Rosemary
+ 2 Sprigs Fresh
6 Cups Water
3 Hours, 40 Minutes, 00 Seconds
At t-minus three hours and forty minutes, we will remove the turkey from the fridge. We want that to come up to room temperature. That way it will cook faster.
|Also, move the parsnips and rutabagas into a large roasting pan and toss with a couple of teaspoons of veg or canola oil.||
1½ Pounds Each Parsnips &
2 tsp. Vegetable Oil
2 Hours, 05 Minutes, 00 Seconds
|At t-minus two hours and five minutes we will move the roasting pan of vegetables to the bottom rack of a 425 degree oven. Pull out the rack immediately above and place the turkey [directly] on that rack. Carefully move it to the rack. No pan beneath it. It's going to go right on the rack. Just be careful, that is hot. There. Now slide it in. That way the drippings will go down onto the vegetables and we will not waste that goodness.||
[back at stove] Move immediately to the cook top, kill the heat and strain the stock through a fine mesh. We will need to discard most of the solids which have given up their goodness. Except, of course, for the ...
SM: ... giblets.
[with the giblets on a cutting board] Now as soon as they are cool enough to handle, go ahead and chop your giblets with a very sharp knife. Now I realize that even hard core turkey fans don't want to actually watch someone chop up giblets [they are cut up for him] so there you go.
1 Hour, 35 Minutes, 00 Seconds
|T-minus one hour, 35 minutes. It is time to add another dose of vegetation to the roasting pan. So carefully position the pan for easy addition and in go the onions. Toss those around not only to integrate, but also to coat with oil. Then return to the oven. While you're here, drop the heat from 425 down to 350.||
½ Pound Red Onion,
Next, fetch forth the potatoes from the
refrigerator and strain them. Do not just dump them into the strainer lest you
dump the starch that sank to the bottom right back on top. Rinse again to remove
starch. And if you've got a salad spinner, run them through that, too. Again,
removing more starch laden water. There.
Now move the potatoes to a large stock pot, or if you're me, dump half of them on the counter. Get in there. Don't want you to do that. Then pour on a whole gallon of whole milk and bring that up to high heat, or medium-high is probably going to be better. We don't want to scorch. I know it's a lot of milk, but don't worry. You can save it later for chowder or some such thing.
1 Hour, 30 Minutes, 00 Seconds
One hour and 30 minutes remaining. The turkey is a go. The veggies are a go. The potatoes a go. The pie, already gone, figuratively speaking. So we move now to the gravy.
SM: [enters with video crew] Just keep going, keep
going, like your cooking, like you cooking.
AB: I was cooking.
SM: Cook better!
MARSHA: [enters with big brown blob balloon] Alton, why are these hideous balloons all over my beautiful table-scape?
SM: Oh, those are giblet balloons. You know, for the children.
M: I don't know who you are, but guts are not a day's theme.
SM: Ah, giblets.
M: Guts, guts, guts. [exits]
SM: Giblets, giblets. [exits]
Move two cups of the ...
SM: ... giblets! ...
|... stock to a four quart pan or a saucier, preferably, and put that over medium heat. Then place another half cup of the stock into just a small jar or some other sealable vessel along with a tablespoon of all purpose flour. And I'm going to shake to suspend the particles thusly. And then very slowly, whisk the slurry—which is what this is called—into the pot. Now as the liquid reaches a boil, the flour granules will swell and thicken. By first suspending each of the flour granules in cold liquid, we ensure there will be no lumps. Now the swelling, or gelatinization, will only take about four, maybe five minutes.||
2 Cups Giblet Stock
½ Cup Giblet Stock
Now this is just enough flour to create a nice velvety, soft, mouth-feel. Alright? It's not enough to actually thicken the gravy, okay? But, you know if we were to use enough flour to thicken the gravy, then 10 minutes after serving we would have giblet paste. That's because flour is high in a, in a, well ... Ah, come here.
|My sister's seasonal pipe cleaners from her craft kit. Let's see. Okay, good, good, good.||
1 of 4
Alright, we're going to say these straight
pipe cleaners are a kind of wheat starch called amylose. And in a gravy, they
spread out and thicken. The problem is, when it cools they retrograde, they
line back up, forming a very strong gel. That's bad. What we need to do is
to interrupt that with another kind of starch, say, amylopectin, which prevents the
retrogradation from happening. So that when it cools, it doesn't get so stiff. Got
it? Ah, she can clean this up later.
Where, pray tell, can we find such a molecule? Why, of course, inside a tablespoon of potato starch, available at most modern mega-marts.
|So, add another half cup of cooled stock to your shaking vessel, along with a tablespoon of the potato starch.||½ Cup Giblet Stock +1 Tbs. Potato Starch|
Cap up, shake up, and then pour into ... Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa whoa. Now if I pour this into a liquid right at the boil, all of the starch granules are going to gelatinize, bursting their gooeyness into the gravy, which will become gluey rather than thick. So, kill the heat and stir the gravy until it drops below 190 degrees.
Besides gravy, potato chips, noodles and gummy candies, potato starch is also used in spray starch and wallpaper paste.
GUESTS: Dungeon Master
|Our meal is at t-minus 1 hour, 20 minutes. And the gravy beginnings are well below 190. So we will return to low heat, there we go, and then add the potato slurry whisking all the while. And follow that with one teaspoon each freshly chopped sage— the official herb of thanksgiving—also thyme and rosemary. Sorry, Simon and Garfunkel, they'll be no parsley here today. But there will be some kosher salt, of course, because, I'm involved. There you go. Then, last but not least, a few grinds of pepper. That is completely up to you.||
1 tsp. Fresh Sage,
1 tsp. Fresh Thyme,
1 tsp. Fresh Rosemary,
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
½ tsp. Freshly Ground
Once it comes to a simmer, we add ...
SM: [off camera] ... giblets!
Yes, the giblets, and then turn off the heat, okay? We don't want to over cook them lest become grainy. Stir until they are just heated through. [tastes] Mmm. Darn tasty stuff. Now as soon as the ..
SM: [off camera] ... giblets ...
... are heated through, move the gravy into a Thermos until you are ready to serve. At that time you can go to the gravy boat, but not before.
45 Minutes, 00 Seconds
Food fans, we are now at t-minus 45 minutes. It is time to evacuate the turkey. I like to do this with a half sheet pan and a cooling rack, if you have it. But the first thing we have to do is take the bird's temperature. We're looking for 155 degrees in the deepest part of the breast. Carryover will take it the rest of the way. Turkey lifters could remove the bird but I find that grill spatulas are far more adept at this task. Just scoot under both ends, and ever so carefully move to the resting area. That is where this bird is going to stay until it is moved to the platter and taken to the table. There. Very nice.
|Of course, we still have the vegetables to work on. We still have some additions to be made. So remove to a safe spot, and add the bread and, of course, the Brussels Spouts, and finally the garlic, which, being very small doesn't need to cook very long. Be sure to toss that in well. You especially want to get the garlic worked in there. And return to the oven. 350 degrees is still our temp.||
8 Ounces Multi-Grain
Bread, Cubed & Staled
8 Ounces Brussels
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
30 Minutes, 00 Seconds
|T-minus 30 minutes and all is well. It is time for our root vegetable panzanella to receive its final dressing. That will come in the form of a quarter of a cup of apple cider vinegar. We'll also give the salad a little final fresh herbal hit, two teaspoons of thyme leaves, chopped of course, and just a pinch of salt. And of course if you like it, black pepper, and I usually do like it. There. Now toss until the bread starts to soak in that goodness. Then you can move that to the service vessel of your choice and just park it alongside the turkey. You don't want to serve it piping hot.||
¼ Cup Apple Cider
2 tsp. Fresh Thyme,
Pinch Kosher Salt
Pinch Freshly Ground
25 Minutes, 00 Seconds
T-minus 25 minutes. Time to drain the
potatoes. Please reserve the milk. We're going to use some right away and the
other you'll want to use for, like, turkey chowder later on. The potatoes usually come
out all at once. Plop.
Now, here's where so very much can go so very wrong. At this point, all of the starch granules in the potatoes are swollen and fit to burst like very full water balloons. [camera pans up to show a water balloon dangling above him] Eat your hear out, Damocles. Now at this point, over agitation would be a very bad idea because all of those little granules could burst throwing their starchy gooeyness everywhere. Which is why we employ ...
DUNGEON MASTER: ... a ricer.
AB: Dungeon Master, what are you doing upstairs?
DM: Oh, your wonderful, beautific, good-smelling sister invites-es me to feast-es.
AB: Marsha invited you, huh?
DM: I also brought the wine-ses. A lovely Champaign bubble-seses for starters and, ooh, a Chiraz for the turkey-nesses.
AB: Well, they're actually both wonderful choices.
Alright, so the ricer employs a piston to push the potatoes ...
DM: ... or hamsters. Ooo. I'll go pour the wins-ses. Hee, hee. [exits]
... through a series of holes, breaking them down without bursting all those bubbles. Now it'll take a little bit more time and effort to "rice" your potatoes. But the resulting dish will be light and fluffy, never ever gummy. Simply fill up with potatoes, and then squeeze directly into the service vessel. Don't worry, you're going to get a little bit of juice and that's okay. It's probably going to take you about three minutes to run the whole batch through, but your patience will be rewarded. There.
|Now since we don't consume whipped potatoes every day of the week, I would endorse certain augmentations, say, up to four ounces of butter. [pretends to add the butter accidentally] Oops. And one cup of the reserved milk which will also serve to help warm things up. I would also add a tablespoon of salt, because we have not salted these spuds thus far. Then the final touch, just whip with a [electric] hand mixer for 15 seconds just to smooth things out. Alright, 15 seconds, no more, no less. There. Now walk away. Just, just walk away.||
4 Ounces Unsalted
1 Cup Warm, Reserved
1 Tbs. Kosher Salt
And so we reach t-minus zero with no drama, no fuss, and no bubb-bbbubb-bbubb crazy business. It is a mighty fine looking meal, even if none of my family or friends decided to, you know, pitch in and bring another dish.
AB: Come and get it
In the final moments, just lay the bird out on a carving board or platter, ring with some herbs, greenery, and maybe some citrus for aroma and for color contrast.
AB: Speaking of contrast, Marsha, Jr., I love that
MARSHA JR.: Mom made it, and she made me wear it.
Ha, ha. You gotta love family.
Well, America, I hope that we have helped you work past your diemelea-philis-phobia or whatever it is. You know, a delicious Thanksgiving feast really hinges on organization, good ingredients, simple cooking techniques and, of course, inner calm. Remember, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks. And what I am most thankful for is not losing the last vestiges of my sanity while cooking Thanksgiving dinner.
Now if you will excuse me, I'm going to go bask in the glory. See you next time on Good Eats.
Transcribed by Michael Menninger
Proofread by Michael Roberts
*AB does have a congealed salad recipe from his grandmother that was mentioned on the Family Traditions episode. It does not look like the one shown in this episode, however. Recipe can be found here.
**Sid also represented Yeast in an attempt to blackmail AB at the end of Roll Call
Last Edited on 12/19/2011