Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Our most thoughtful condiments for the turkey

23 Nov 04 Our most thoughtful condiments for the turkey

The turkey has a bad reputation ever since Mark Twain derided the domestic turkey as the stupidest bird on earth. However, the US is full of its turkeys, domestic and political and in this season we are to be thankful for those laid upon the plank and roasted to perfection.

On Hunting the Deceitful Turkey
from Mark Twain

Therefore to honor the season of autumn harvest and a windfall of rotten apples into the political baskets of sour grapes, we uncork the wine, pass the port and begin a series of stories, collected to enjoy in front of a rushing fire or sitting on a luke-warm radiator or in a freezing cold room with three layers of socks and a hot water bottle clutched between the knees to gnaw on old bones and chew the fat, doing a little turkey-talk on the business of being a turkey.

On Turkeys and National Identity
nominated by Ben Franklin to be the national bird of the
US to reside in the great white nest

More on Wild Turkeys

from the Coffee Bean Goddess
pic of wild turkeys

A turkey is decidely an American bird., a gallinaceaous bird, Meleagriis gallapova, that is raised chiefly for culinary purposes. It is generally served with baked sweet potatotes, mashed potatoes and currant or cranberry sauce. However, cranberries aer not native in Europe, so currants are a good substitute for the appetizer. For a zesty change in the jelly section of your cabinet, you can experiment with making rowan jelly. The rowan is better known to the Americans as the ash tree that bears clusters of rusty red berries in late autumn. Wait until the berries are soft, nearly mushy before collecting them for jelly. Rinse them by running water over them . An easy way to stemming currants or rowan is by running a fork through the stems, thereby knocking the fruit into the cooking-pot. Don't worry over the loose oddbits, for making jelly requires straining and then possibly straining again. To make any fuit jell naturally, chop up three small japanese quinces and toss them in with the fruit. Allow them to stand overnight before cooking.

To make fine jellies, use low heat and allow the fruit to simmer hours. Strain the pulp through a cloth and allow more time for the the sediment to collect. Strain again to remove it. The liquid will change color depending on the intensity of heat an the resulting jelly will be a clear ruby that glistens wonderfully under sunlight. Use coarse sugar rather than crystal, adding it in slowly throughout reduction until you have the sweetness or tartness that you want. Two day jellies have much rounder flavors than the one-day jobber, and if you can manage the agony to three, you'll have a jelly which the neighbors will want. The trick is getting the full amount of juice out of the fruit and then repeatedly straining the liquid until all sediment is removed. Reduce, add water, reduce, add water, reduce until the fruit is nothing but mash.

Rowan by itself is tart, and is an excellent jelly for dark meat and game, but it blends fabulously with apple, pear, quince or mint. To give it some added zest, drop in some cloves, broken cinnamon stick and lemon peel. Orange and mandarin peels work nicely, too. The result is an incredibly wonderful jelly that will never be found in a delicatessan shop or on the grocery shelf with a brilliant red fire to warm the hearts of anyone who receives it as a present.

Rowan berries dry nicely, even more so than wild cherries and add wonderful color to a seasonal wreath to decorate your table or front door.

Now that you've had your work-out in the kitchen in creating the jellies to give some zing to the turkey, let's sit down and read, while the turkey gets it's roasting.

More facts on Turkeys from the Restaurant Report
Chef's Table: Let’s Talk Turkey
By Jim Coleman with Candace Hagan

In the following story, you can learn about the magical transformation of turkey to being a prince. I know, we're so used to people becoming turkeys that it seems impossible to believe that the reverse could be true, but this story is from Rabbi Nachman, known to many Jews for his delicious sense of humor that gets served with a generous helping of wisdom.

The Prince Who Thought He Was a Turkey
The Prince Who Thought He Was a
adapted by Gedaliah Fleer from the stories of Rebbe Nachman

Meleagris gallapavo: the real thing in the wild
us geo survey


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