Monday, November 22, 2010
The Designer Turkey
Thanksgiving is an even more special holiday when you are living far away from all things American. My husband Andy and I were posted in Geneva, Switzerland years ago and we had a handful of American friends with which to celebrate. I went searching for my kosher turkey.
We were lucky to have a kosher butcher only a few blocks from our apartment in the city, unlike in Washington, DC where we had to drive 40 minutes into the suburbs for a kosher chicken. I went to the butcher and asked for a whole turkey in my broken French. He said that no one ate whole turkeys in Switzerland but would see what he could do. I checked in with him every few days to see how his search was going. Maybe I seemed a little desperate.
He announced one visit that he would have a fresh, whole, large turkey for me. In the meantime, I planned the rest of the meal. I bought orange-skinned yams that when peeled were completely white. It took several visits back to the store and sore fingernails to learn that in Geneva, all the sweet potatoes were white inside. I will have to admit that they did taste the same as the orange ones, but looked rather drab in a dish in which they were combined with white granny smith apples. I never found fresh cranberries.
I picked up my enormous, beautiful turkey. It was the Dior of turkeys, with the designer price tag of $140. Yes, you read that right. I thought that by living in the land of watches and banks I would be immune to sticker shock; I wasn’t. I paid the butcher and carried my baby home. It was delicious, tasting and smelling of America and enjoyed by all. The next year, I drove to the kosher butcher just over the border in France and bought two scrawny turkeys, that looked like big chickens, for $45 total, and they were just as good.
I will never forget the $140 turkey, but only as a reminder that celebrating an American holiday in a foreign country with friends and delicious food really has no price tag.
Here are two favorite Thanksgiving recipes, my turkey rub and corn bread, from The Kosher Baker.
Shallot and Herb Turkey Rub
This rub was inspired by one I found in Bon Appetit 1993 and goes with any stuffing. There is enough for even a very large turkey.
½ cup (1 stick) parve margarine, softened 2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves Salt and pepper to taste
Cream the margarine with a silicone spatula. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme and sage and mix well. Put on some gloves and then rub mixture all over and under the turkey skin. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic and let sit until roasting. I like to rub the bird the night before, cover and place into the fridge.
Corn Bread Makes forty 2-inch squares
This recipe was designed for a crowd; it makes two 9 x 13-inch pans. You can also halve the recipe, but why bother? It freezes very well.
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons baking powder
4 large eggs
1 cup parve whipping cream
2 1/2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 cups parve plain soy milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) parve margarine, melted
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9 x 13-inch baking pans.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, corn meal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, whipping cream, oil, and soy milk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add the melted margarine and stir until just combined.
3. Bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean. The corn bread should be a little brown on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.