It’s my birthday. 12 days past Christmas. I’m going to cook my first turkey dinner today, by myself. The ocean is roaring in comfortable silence on the other side of town. The night before I picked up all the ingredients and brined the bird. Brining is simple and makes the meat very moist and tender. I dumped the 12 lb turkey into a double-bagged garbage bag, poured in about 24 cups of water and 2 cups of salt, then left it in the back entrance of our house overnight, which is always very cold. Maybe I left it in the snow in the backyard, actually. Good luck trying to put the beast back into the fridge, in any case…a cooler usually works best.
Plum-Glazed Roast Turkey Dinner with Spinach, Bacon and Cashew Stuffing and Roasted, Stuffed Onions
Start to finish: Depending on how much of the wine you drink, 7 – 12 hrs (includes making stuffing and turkey giblet stock and roasting turkey)
It’s about 10:00 AM. I’m starting with the stock:
Turkey Giblet Stock
Start to finish: Approx. 1 hr
Neck and giblets (excluding liver) from turkey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or olive oil / or pig fat)
1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, bashed or chopped in half, or whatever
1 cup dry white wine
5 cups water
1 3/4 cups chicken broth (or disgusting oxo and a bit of extra water)
1 bay leaf
Approx. 6 whole black peppercorns
I chop the celery, carrot and onion in large, rough chunks, and bash the three little garlic cloves with my big 10-inch knife, then throw it all together in a bowl and set it aside. Where’s the bird. I snatch up the garbage bag, gently pour the water into the sink and pull out the dripping beast. I slap the skin a couple times for good measure, then pull out the giblets and neck, and rinse the bird off with cold water. Good to go. Chill the bird.
I pull out a heavy soup pot and throw it on some moderately high heat. After a minute, a little splash of olive oil and a small teaspoon of butter. Once it starts to bubble (not smoke), I throw in the neck and giblets, let them sear a minute, then the vegetables and stir them around a bit. A couple minutes, nicely warmed – not browned, break out the white wine. A fat gulp for me, and a cup in the pot. Lovely. Decent wine. No point in using shitty wine for cooking. You’re using it for flavour. Boil the stew for a minute then add the water, the chicken broth (I bought), a bay leaf and about a half dozen peppercorns. Bring it to a boil, then turn it down to a brisk simmer and leave it (the longer you cook it down, the more concentrated the flavour). Makes about 6 cups.
Done with the stock for now. Another sip of wine! Roasted onions and Stuffing next:
My housemates are drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and watching me with curious amusement. I put on the hot knives and get the morning started right.
Spinach, Bacon and Cashew Stuffing, and Roasted Stuffed Onions
Start to finish: 3 1/2 hr
10 medium red and yellow onions (4 lb)
1 lb sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide pieces
3 celery ribs, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
15 oz baby spinach, trimmed and coarsely chopped (14 cups)
1 (9-inch) round loaf country-style bread (1 1/4 lb), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (10 cups), lightly toasted
2 cups salted roasted cashews (10 oz), coarsely chopped
1 stick (1/2cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups turkey giblet stock
I make the onion shells first – cutting an ½ inch thick slice from tops of onions, discarding tops, and trimming just enough from bottoms for onions to stand upright. I scoop out all but outer two or three layers from each using a small spoon (don’t worry if you make a hole in the bottom), reserving the scooped-out onion separately.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Arrange onion shells, top sides up in a baking pan, then add ½-cup water and cover the pan tightly with foil. Roast onions in the middle of oven until tender but not falling apart, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool. Je suis fini! (I don’t speak French)
Another sip of wine, and one more to wash the first one down!
Time to make the stuffing. Whip the cashews into the blender first, until they’re crumbly. I leave them in the blender. Chop the onion next, enough of the scooped-out stuff to measure 3 cups. All this crying is making me drinkmore! Where’s the red wine! I don’t need it until I make the gravy…however, best to open it now and let it breathe for a couple hours. Trim the spinach, a sip of red wine. Perfect. Rather quiet on the nose, with mature fruit and roasting – dense on the palate with a plant note, velvety, delicate aromas of liquorice, blackcurrant and prune, the balance is well made thanks to a nice acidity.
Onion shells are finished and smelling sharp and sweet. Chill them on the counter. The stock smells gorgeously rich by now. The house is filling up with love. I think I’ll leave it on for another 30 minutes.
Chopping up an entire loaf of bread into little cubes does not turn out to be fun. Nothing wrong with a bit of hard labour, though. Throw the cubes onto a cookie sheet and roast ‘em on broil (500°F) in the oven for a few minutes, until starting to brown. I don’t want crispy toast. Lightly roasted. Easy on the wine.
I’m getting a glow as I slap a large frying pan onto medium heat, and it’s only just past noon. Take off the stock, leave it on the counter to cool. Smells brilliantly healthy and delicious. Chop up the bacon and toss it in the heated pan. Fuck! I’m not wearing a shirt – and people think we learn from mistakes.
Stir it up a bit, until crisp, about 10 minutes, then onto paper towels on a plate to drain. I keep the pig fat in a rinsed out frozen juice can. I might use it for something – we’ll see. Time to strain the stock. No time to wait for it to get cold (which is highly recommended, due to the war wounds you might receive pouring a huge pot of screaming hot stock through a sieve). I suppose I could have made it yesterday. Pour it through a large fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl or bucket – whatever will hold 6 cups – and discard solids. Skim off and discard any fat (oil). If it’s cooled, the fat solidifies on top and is easy peasy to remove.
Add the chopped onion, celery, salt and pepper to the frying pan and sauté over medium high heat, flick of the wrist, a couple tosses, until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté, tossing, for 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in spinach, bread, cashews, melted butter, 1 cup stock, and bacon, then cool completely.
Holy shit, that made a serious amount of stuffing. I have twice as much as I need, it seems. Oh my…
it tastes fantastic.
I’ve slowed down my pace. Stuffing the onions and putting them back on the tray. Ten purple bulbs with mounds of stuffing blooming from their mouths. A sip of red, a sip of white. On the counter the onions go. The counter is getting cluttered. Nearly everything is ready to go. The bird is next!
A little break first, however, give Beth a playful kiss and get stoned.
I got a call from a friend and forgot I was cooking a turkey dinner for a while. A gulp of red wine – the white’s getting low. My God, my condition is starting to get serious. Better get the bird cooking.
The Plum Glazed Turkey
Start to finish: 3-5 hrs depending on the size of the bird
1/2 cup plum jam or red currant jelly (6 oz)
2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 (12- to 14-lb) turkey (kosher if you don’t want to brine – however, you should always brine a turkey. Try it once and you’ll never go back.)
5 to 7 cups spinach, bacon, and cashew stuffing
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 425°F. Okay, what am I doing. Start with the glaze. In a small saucepan, simmer jam, five-spice powder, peppercorns, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring, until jam is melted, about 3 minutes. Pour glaze through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, pressing on and discarding solids, then cool. No problem. Hmm…smells spicy sweet.
Reminds me of sex, for some reason.
Time for the guest of honour. Mr. Turkey, thank you for your tasty flesh. Get washed up. Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry. Okay, let’s get intimate. I sprinkle about a teaspoon of salt over the body of my sacrificed friend and gently massage it into the meat, inside and out. Next, I take a chunk of butter in my fingers and slip them under the skin of the breast, massaging the velvety cream. Greasy.
My housemate is taking pictures, watching my fingers ripple and stretch beneath the skin. Everyone is laughing and enjoying this immensely. A good rub on the surface, wash my hands, break out the stuffing. I loosely fill the large body cavity, then the neck cavity, tucking the flap of neck skin under the body. That’s it! Down a full glass of red wine.My god I’m getting drunk.
Put the turkey in a large roasting pan and roast in the middle of the oven 30 minutes at 425°F. Chill out and smoke a joint. It’s my birthday, and I’m learning a brand new respect for the housewives of days gone – and this is nothing compared to the usual full spread.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Brush melted butter over turkey and roast, basting every 30 minutes (add a little water to pan if juices get too dark), 1 1/2 hours.
The smell of love is so thick in the house now that even the plants are dancing. Everyone is rosy and playful. It’s making me lusty. Time to candy coat our dead hero. 2 hours and its golden and oozing with sweetness. I brush the turkey with the plum glaze and then throw it back into the oven to roast. (If I had a thermometer, I would know when it was done by inserting it in the center of the body cavity – stuffing. It should register 165°F – fleshy part of thigh will be about 180°F; do not touch bone.)
I don’t have a thermometer, but I know it will be another hour or two. Another glass of wine! Break time!
I grab Beth by the hand and lead her to my bedroom, peeling off her panties and opening her flower folds to kiss her gentle and firm, massaging her little red button in my mouth. She’s burning and moist before I touch her. I suck on her honey and she arches her back, rocking her hips and grinding my jaw into her tender mound. I pull back when she begins to squirm, crawling over her slow and strong.
She watches me with a playful, hungry smile.
Delicately, she reaches between her legs and fingers the head of my cock, rubbing it softly on the river of her excitement, spreading her legs ever wide.
I kiss her with silk lips, on the chin, then on the tongue – and she pulls me into her, slowly, swallowing me in her snug, creamy warmth, raising her hips, staring at me and smiling with love.
Jesus, this is getting out of control. I’m far too relaxed now to care about what happens to dinner. Who drank all the wine!
They’re urging me on, now. The whole crowd is here – getting hungry! Turkey looks good – not browning too much. If the glaze starts browning too much, tent the turkey with foil. Not much white wine left. Bottoms up straight from the bottle!
My god, I’m swimming in a fluid vortex. Pull yourself together, man!
Beautiful, golden love steaming into our senses! My first turkey dinner, unbelievably perfect, oozing with juices and aroma. Transfer the turkey to a platter! The roasting pan is crusted with rich flavour. Scoop the stuffing out into a bowl with a large spoon, and keep warm, covered.
Now we let the turkey stand 30 minutes, while I make the gravy, potatoes, and bake the stuffed onions. I can multi-task. No problem. Brennan peeled and sliced potatoes! Excellent. I’m too drunk for that, now. I would have cut a finger off, no doubt. Potatoes get slippery. Delicate sips of wine from here on…
Pan juices from roast turkey
About 3 1/2 cups turkey giblet stock (or a vegetable stock – or disgusting oxo cubes.)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup plum jam or red currant jelly (3 oz)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Set oven temperature to 350°F. Toss the stuffed onions in the oven, then put the remaining stuffing in a buttered shallow baking dish and drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup stock. Bake the stuffed onions and stuffing cakes in the middle of oven, uncovered, until heated through, about 25 minutes.
Throw the potatoes in a pot, fill it with water to the top of the spuds then put it on high to boil. To the roasting pan!
Scrape the crust from the pan, mixing it with the juices and transfer it to an 8 cup glass measure, then skim fat (oil). Add enough turkey stock to the pan juices to total 4 1/2 cups. Straddle the roasting pan across two burners, then add the wine and deglaze the pan by boiling over moderately high heat, stirring and scraping up the brown bits, until the wine is reduced by half – about 5 minutes.
Potatoes are boiling! Turn them down to simmer, and cover for about 20 minutes.
Add the stock mixture and jam to the roasting pan and boil, stirring, until the jam is melted. Pour through fine-mesh sieve into glass measure.
Ready for the roux! Whisk together olive oil and flour in a large heavy saucepan (it will be about the thickness of peanut butter) and cook roux over moderately low heat, stirring, 3 minutes. (you can also, alternatively, use cornstarch and cold water, but that’s not what I did).
Add the hot stock mixture in a fast stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in turkey juices accumulated on platter and simmer another minute. Presto! Season with salt and pepper.
Potatoes are done! Brennan’s mashing them up good. I add a bit of butter and milk, then some chopped up fresh chives and a subtle drizzle of honey. Season with salt and pepper. It works! Lovely.
The table is set.
I steam up some vegetables, while Brennan cuts up the stuffing cakes and throws them on a platter with the stuffed onions. Beth and Cristyn bring the food to the table, and everyone stares at it eagerly. By the time I sit down at my seat, I’m too drunk to stand. The guests coo and purr and shower me with kissing words, praising the bird as the best turkey dinner to be found! Their mothers would be stunned – their grandmothers, too!
Gasping and in love with their tongues they savour the great feast that spreads before them, and I swirl away in a sensory explosion of peace – or oblivion.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.