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An American Thanksgiving Part 2 | Let’s Talk Turkey!

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It’s that time again in the United States! It’s time for Stuffing, Dressing, Cranberry Sauce, and all things poultry. It’s time to talk turkey!

Photo Credit Food Network TV

During our last time together, we learned that surprisingly, turkey was not on the menu during the first Thanksgiving. More than likely, it was a mix of fowl, ducks, geese, venison and shellfish. So how then did the turkey become incorporated in Thanksgiving? It’s an interesting story really.

Born in 1788 in New Hampshire, American writer Sarah Josepha Hale, has bragging rights to the incorporation of the turkey, and to the “modern” Thanksgiving. Ironically, Hale was the author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had A Little Lamb”. Hale also set the course for popularity in literature, fashion and cooking. Today, she is still known as “The Godmother of Thanksgiving.”

To Hale’s credit is a novel she wrote in 1827 called “Northwood”. In that novel, she described her “perfect Thanksgiving” featuring none other than… you guessed it… the turkey.

“[It] is considered as an appropriate tribute of gratitude to God to set apart one day of Thanksgiving in each year; and autumn is the time when the overflowing garners of America call for this expression of joyful gratitude.

The roasted turkey took precedence on this occasion, being placed at the head of the table; and well did it become its lordly station, sending forth the rich odor of its savory stuffing, and finely covered with the froth of the basting. ” ~Sarah Hale

Photo Credit Serious Eats

Hale made it her mission in life to adopt her Thanksgiving as a national holiday spending 17 years and writing five letters to presidents in the belief her dream would become reality. Her letter to President Abraham Lincoln, did just that.

In 1863 President Lincoln encouraged Americans to celebrate the last Thursday in November as a day of thanks, or Thanksgiving. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established Thanksgiving as a legal holiday years later and after the death of Hale.

I for one am a huge turkey fan! So thank you very much for your diligence and perseverance and in your honor Mrs. Hale, we shall eat turkey!

Photo Credit Food Network TV

Here are five things to watch for when roasting a turkey:

  1. Make sure to thaw it correctly.  You’ll need at least 24 hours for every five pounds you plan to thaw. So, if you’ve got a ten-pound turkey, it’s going to take a day and a half for it to fully defrost.
  2. Make sure to adequately season the turkey. It is a BIG bird and needs BIG seasoning. I use poultry seasoning, additional salt & pepper, Sage and Thyme.
  3. Stuff the cavity to ensure a moist bird. I use chopped onion, apple, celery stalks, and any other vegetable remnants I can find. This ensures the bird won’t dry out if cooked properly.
  4. Cook low and slow. You cannot hurry this process or you will have a very dry bird.
  5. Brine or inject marinade to add juiciness. A good brine and/or injected marinade is worth it’s weight in juice!

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