The great turkey experiment of 2013

When it comes to Thanksgiving, I’m a dreamer in theory and a traditionalist in practice. I spend the first weeks of November imagining all kinds of possibilities, and this year at least, filing them on Pinterest.

But when it comes down to the day-of, I stick to what I know which is what we all know from way back when – the cornbread, the sweet potato pie, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and the big ole Norman Rockwell turkey.

Spoiler: it all came out awesome.

That’s where things went differently this year: the turkey. After doing this the expat way for years here in Israel, we discussed trying something new. Our Thanksgiving dinner invitation list has shrunk since the kids, and we end up wasting much of the turkey – namely, dark meat.

This year, we ordered the whole turkey – which is expensive in Israel, no ‘free turkey with your purchase!’ – but hacked off the thighs, legs and wings before preparing. They went straight into the freezer to be used for soups (mmm… winter’s coming).

I was a little worried it would affect flavor, but with the white meat still on the frame, I was promised by the internet it would be ok. While I was at it, I figured, my disfigured turkey may as well cook flipped – breast down – which I never normally do for the classic turkey effect.

Result? Totally. Worth it. No basting required – though I did once out of habit. It cooked for about 3 hours down in its own bed of olive oil, water, celery, onion, garlic and spice juice, and then another 40 minutes breast-up to brown it.

If you can get past looks, you can make yourself a kick-ass white meat turkey and later on, some kick-ass turkey-based soup.

By the way, I’m taking a percentage of credit for, after 4 or 5 years, finally influencing the acceptance that people in my neighborhood order whole turkeys from our supermarket enough to require a sign:

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