The festive season is just within reach, and we are starting to plan for those wonderful days and meals when we are surrounded by family and friends. Especially on Thanksgiving—not only to celebrate the savory foods of the fall with our table and menu, but to also give thanks for all we have. The perfect way to celebrate is with a perfect Thanksgiving turkey and more.
The story of Thanksgiving traces its roots back to September of 1620 when a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England carrying 102 passengers, who were both Pilgrims and Puritans, looking to find land in the New World. It took 66 days to cross the Atlantic Ocean and arrive near the tip of Cape Cod. The Mayflower dropped anchor there first, and journeyed on after a month across the Massachusetts Bay. There, the passengers settled and established the village of Plymouth.
A year later in November 1621, they organized a feast to celebrate their successful crops, and this feast continued year after year. It wasn’t until 1941, however, that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of November.
There are many foods that have become Thanksgiving traditions, including stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows and brown sugar, green bean casserole with canned creamy mushroom soup and fried onions on top, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.
The turkey, however, is a Thanksgiving staple that is usually the centerpiece of the feast. Every year we consume an estimated 46 million turkeys for the holiday. There are a lucky few, though, that don’t end up on the table! Beginning in the mid-20th century, the president of the United States has “pardoned” one or two Thanksgiving turkeys each year, sparing the birds from slaughter and sending them to a farm for retirement.
To prepare your turkey, here are a few tips: When cooking turkey it is always best to brine the turkey for a few days prior if you have space in a refrigerator. Brining the turkey will add flavor and also tenderize the meat. The brine consists of salt, sugar, aromatics, vegetables and water. After you have brined a turkey once, you will never want to eat turkey that has not been brined again.
After turkey has been brined for three to four days, remove from the brine, place on a roasting pan, season the turkey, and brush with oil. Place in a 325-degree oven and roast to an internal temperature of 165 to 175 degrees. Remove from the oven and let rest 20 minutes before slicing.
After all, Thanksgiving is a holiday to be thankful for what we have and provide for others in need. Even if it looks a little different this year, to me Thanksgiving means a very simple but powerful word: blessed.
As they say in Hollywood … “That’s a wrap!”