With Thanksgiving approaching, visions of that Norman Rockwell scene with family and friends gathered around the table admiring the presentation of a gorgeously bronzed roasted turkey come to mind.
Contrast that idyllic scene with the bird displayed on the cover of the November issue of Martha Stewart Living. It is a completely dismembered bird, albeit artistically displayed and garnished with pomegranate halves, kumquats and orange blossoms.
Martha says if the bird is to be served on a buffet, it should be dismembered and sliced for presentation, but if having a seated dinner, then the bird may be carved at the table.
Carving a specimen giant turkey is daunting. Our family bird always looks like a victim of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Stewart says after the turkey is presented to the table, it is all right to take it away for carving. I am a proponent of this, as no one likes gazing at a deconstructed turkey tablescape.
Stewart’s website has a plethora of turkey-carving videos, including how to deconstruct a raw turkey — cutting it up like one would a whole chicken. This makes brining the bird easier, as it is sometimes difficult to find a pot that will hold a 20-pound bird in a brining bath.
The philosophy behind dismembering the raw bird and roasting the pieces separately at varying temperatures — as Martha did for the bird on her magazine cover — is that parts of Big Bird vary in thickness; if cooked as a whole at the same temperature, some parts will dry out while other parts are cooked to desired doneness. (Dried turkey is not an issue for me, as this is easily remedied by a full immersion baptism in turkey gravy.)
However the turkey is cooked, once it has reached desired doneness and removed from the oven, fryer or smoker, it must be allowed to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
While resting, it should be loosely covered with an aluminum foil tent. This encourages juices to settle back into the meat. Also, a cool bird carves more easily than one straight from the oven.
Once the bird has had its beauty rest, Martha makes the carving look easy, totally eschewing the electric knife for a nicely sharpened chef’s knife.
Listed below are some interesting wines to fortify one’s self for the Thanksgiving repast, though I would not recommend doing so until after bird dismemberment has occurred.
All are distributed in Alabama and are available locally by special order at Tyson’s Fine Wine and Things in Anniston or from your favorite wine merchant.
Mulderbosch 2015 Chenin Blanc. $17. Chenin blanc is better known through the soft, sometimes semisweet wines of French Vouvray. This is a dry rendering from South Africa more akin in taste to a sauvignon blanc. Excellent with turkey and cornbread dressing.
Jean-Luc Colombo 2014 Les Abeilles Cotes du Rhone Blanc. $15.75. A blend of clairette and roussane, two white grapes typically grown in the Southern Rhone region of France. The name Les Abeilles (lees a-bay-ah) translates in English to “the bees.” The producer Jean-Luc Colombo recognizes the important role bees play in biodiversity through pollination. A portion of proceeds from the sales of this wine goes to honey bee research to help combat the demise of the bee due to something called Colony Collapse Disorder. A well-made, delicious white. Dry and versatile with just enough mineral notes and acidity to pair well with poultry.
Jean-Luc Colombo 2014 Les Abeilles Cotes du Rhone Rouge. $15.75. From a blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre, this is a smooth, easy-drinking, medium-bodied red with dried cherry fruit flavors.
Jean-Luc Colombo 2012 Les Bartavelles Chateauneuf du Pape. $45. Also a blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre, but unlike the preceding wine, this is sourced from more site-specific areas and from the most famous growing region in the Southern Rhone, hence the more expensive price. Full-bodied red with concentrated fruit flavors and a slight herbaceous hint. Smooth with a pleasant finish.
Pat Kettles writes about wine and spirits every other Wednesday. Contact her at email@example.com.