Almost everyone knows that the fourth Thursday in November is ‘Thanksgiving Day,’ an important holiday in the United States, celebrating the first harvest in the new world and a meal that the Pilgrims shared with their Native American friends in October, 1621, an occasion for giving thanks for their first harvest and that they survived that first year in the American wilderness.
As a remembrance, millions of American families sit down to a family feast this day, the main course of which is turkey, the bird that was also eaten at that first ‘Thanksgiving’ dinner so long ago. Since almost everyone knows all about this, I will not bother you with the events surrounding the ‘Thanksgiving holiday’, instead I will describe how to cook a whole turkey in about 10 to 15 minutes.
Another time to cook a turkey is when summer barbecue fever rages as men indulge in summer cooking. For men who want to cook a different kind of turkey, I’ll reach into my past, when, as a bachelor, I depended on myself to prepare food. Tending toward culinary adventures like this one that makes turkey different and special, thoroughly changing and perhaps improving the familiar bird the Pilgrims found so enchanting that first Thanksgiving, and taking only ten to fifteen minutes to cook.
This method for cooking a turkey in this short time can work throughout the year, especially for November’s Pilgrim ‘Thanksgiving Day’ in a skillet on the stove, or for a summer barbeque on an outdoor grill.
This gourmet adventure starts at the meat counter. Have the butcher cut a cleaned out frozen turkey into 1/2 to 3/4 inch transverse sections (from side to side) with his or her bandsaw starting at the neck end and working back towards the rump. Reassemble the bird while still frozen and store it in your home freezer until needed.
To thaw, place the slices in a pan and brush them with olive oil. Season lightly as you wish, though I prefer to use only the oil. As they thaw, the turkey slices release juices that mix with the oil. Discard all liquids before cooking.
Cook the slices in a pan for ‘Thanksgiving,’ or on a barbecue grill in the summer until done (5-10 minutes on each side). You can make a basting sauce from butter, white wine, salt and pepper, though I favor pure olive oil.
After the meal, ask your guests to guess what they ate. Some of my guests have guessed veal, and even swordfish. This example of men’s cooking indicates an unusual way to prepare turkey, well worth exploring.
I found this recipe in a 1963 Sunset Magazine cookbook called “Men Cooking,” a compilation of recipes by outstanding amateur men cooks from California. Philip S. Brown, a rare book dealer in Pasadena, California, contributed the turkey recipe.
This book also has a recipe called “Chicken Grits Gerlack” contributed by Alvin Gerlack, an attorney from San Alnselmo, California. Simmer an old, fat hen until the meat falls from the bone, remove the bones, and cook hominy grits with the meat and stock until it has the consistency of mush. Flavor with olives, onion, green pepper, a hint of garlic, red pepper (both the hot chili con carne and tamale varieties), and other condiments to taste. Stir constantly to keep it from burning.
I haven’t tried these remarkable grits. Some North Carolina people told me this is just the kind of dish a crazy Californian would invent. I would love to know how it turns out.
When I wanted to prepare an impressive, easy-to-make dessert (long ago before I started dieting), I made an exquisite orange ice cream contributed to “Men Cooking” by B. R. Cloyd, an orchardist from Escondido, California.
Combine 2 1/2 cups of orange juice with the juice of two limes and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1 1/2 cups of whipping cream. Freeze until firm in the freezing compartment of your refrigerator. Stir at least twice during the freezing process to prevent the formation of ice crystals. For those on a diet, enjoy this dessert once a year. Absolutely incredible.
Years ago, Vicki took away my cooking privileges and banished me from the kitchen. More fastidious than me, she moaned at the disarray of the kitchen after I cook. Still, I don’t mind. I love to write and she loves to cook, so we have an amicable life together. Recently, I presented her with a traditional chef’s hat to wear while she cooks. She loved it.
I have to sign off now. I just heard that Sunday lunch was ready.