Making the Most of Your Turkey – or Turkey Substitute – Preparations This Holiday Season
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Let’s talk turkey! It’s that wonderful time of the year again when we gather and feast on traditional foods. But did you know that not everyone devours this bird on Thanksgiving?
How is it that turkeys became the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving holiday? Glad you asked! The turkey was not invited to the party until the 1800s. There was no actual indication that the pilgrims consumed turkey in their celebration. Fowl was mentioned, but historians tend to think they had duck or geese.
So how did the turkey get to the Thanksgiving table? No, this is not a joke, but if you have a joke regarding that let us know. Long ago there was a tradition of serving large wildfowl in medieval Europe, especially peacock, which was skinned, cooked and re-sewn into its feathers for presentation. I don’t know about you, but having a bird with feathers on the table would definitely keep my food consumption in check for the day.
While turkey wasn’t likely present in 1621, annual harvest dinners continued as turkey gained popularity as a source of protein, and turkeys were much larger than chickens, ducks and geese, making them economical to serve to a crowd.
There are many delectable ways to serve this bird. Here are a few options.
Spatchcocking – There is a lot of detail to this, and I’d look it up for the fun of it. It involves flattening the bird, and it sounds like you can release a lot of aggression with this method. It might be a good idea if the relatives are coming to your home for dinner.
Brining – This involves soaking a turkey in a very salty solution for a length of time – long enough for the salt to infiltrate the turkey and actually alter the molecular structure of the meat. It won’t turn it into a salty mess, just a juicy, delicious turkey.
Smoking – This is a specialty and takes a while.
Grilling – You’ll be using indirect heat on the grill (gas or charcoal). The indirect heat will also help to prevent the turkey from drying out. You’ll also be basting the turkey every 30 minutes, which will keep the bird moist. This is also a great way to keep yourself removed from all the commotion going on inside the house!
The traditional way is to bake in the oven. I won’t get into details with this one.
Now, what about the plant-based folks out there? There are people who don’t even wish to eat turkey once a year. Well, here is it folks – tofu turkey. I’m so excited about this one, I’m sharing a recipe:
1 lb. firm tofu
1.5 cups boiling water
Add your favorite spices. I would start with 1/2 teaspoon of each. Maybe try the spices that you use for making your favorite stuffing or dressing. If you feel that the spices aren’t clinging to your tofu, you can add a tablespoon or two of olive oil if you use oil. I know some prefer to stay away from oils.
Whisk your spice ingredients together with your water. Slice the tofu into desired shapes (perhaps use a turkey cookie cutter). Lay each slice in a pan and cover with marinade. Refrigerate an hour or longer, turning slices over occasionally.
Bake for one hour at 350 degrees, turning after 30 minutes. Brown both sides or use an air fryer for a few minutes right before serving.
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We have everything at New Kitchen store (except for the turkey) to help you get ready for your celebration. Want to keep it simple? Make it the traditional way, and try adding jams, jellies and even salsas to the table. We have a great selection of those, and also oils to keep that turkey from being dry.
New Kitchen Store is located at 1100 Roosevelt Road in Walkerton. Call 574-586-2745 and visit newkitchenstore.com for more info.