Big Tom…

Tom is taking up a fair amount of space in the fridge. He is the biggest turkey I’ve ever seen, and my brother informs me we are cooking him on Thursday. I wonder if we really should get started today. How long does it take to cook a 21-pound turkey?

I don’t have years of experience cooking turkeys. Mom cooked all our turkeys up until four years ago, and our first Thanksgiving without her was painful in more ways than one. We dried out the turkey, we made glue instead of cornbread dressing, and we generally made a mess of the dinner.

Since turkey duties now fall to my younger brother and me, we’ve been experimenting. We held a competition one year. We each had a 12 pound turkey. I brined mine, Steve did not. I won. But Steve really won because my gravy was too salty to eat. His was perfect.

Last year, we roasted a beautiful bird to bronze bliss and decorated the platter with oranges and sage bundles. We roasted two extra breasts to eat, using the whole turkey as our centerpiece. We never had to carve the golden boy because we had plenty of turkey breast, plus a ham, and an untold number of side dishes for our 35 guests. Steve tells me he put the bird in the extra fridge and promplty forgot about it, eventually tossing it a few weeks later. Not a very happy ending for that Tom.

So here we are, looking at this monstrous fowl, and wondering what’s to become of him. We’re thinking we’ll try the salting technique in the November issue of Bon Appetit. Mainly because we don’t have a bucket big enough to do a full brine. We realize we’re treading on thin ice because we don’t have extra turkey waiting in the wings if we screw this up. And that is part of the fun. That, and being together on Thanksgiving, cooking, laughing, sharing. Creating a story for next year. Happy Thanksgiving.

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