A Turkey Named Alton

Thanksgiving was a wonderful time this year, friends and family and extended family with food and drink and grandchildren. It’s my favorite holiday, so I always look forward to it and am blue and filled to the brim when it’s over.

I have roasted the Thanksgiving turkey for most of my adult life and can create a pretty darn good turkey dinner, birds browned in the right places and not browned where it shouldn’t be. They look fantastic and no one ever walks away hungry. Gravy, mashed spuds, you know, the works. Delicious and beautiful, my specialty.

This year a friend promised to roast the turkey and I thought why not? I could use a break and besides I was pretty sure that all those poultry farmers continue to improve turkeys every year from the first birds when the pilgrims chopped off the first head and plucked the feathers, so what harm can there be? Turkeys are easy to cook: unwrap, put in a roaster, turn on oven, set the timer, and open a fresh bottle of wine. No sweat.

My friend arrived two days early carrying a suitcase, a bucket, a bag of ice, and shoebox filled with spices, a grocery bag with vegetable juice, apples, and onions, not to mention a computer, speakers and headphones. I had already purchased a sixteen-pound turkey, the perfect size for our family. It was ready to roast.

“I’m here, ready to go to work,” my friend said. “Where’s the bird?”

“You are two days early, today is Tuesday. Thanksgiving is Thursday,” I said, puzzled at the whole situation.

“You’ll see, it’s going to be the best turkey dinner you’ve ever eaten. I guarantee It’ll knock your socks off. Alton Brown will guide me through the recipe.” Whoever that is, I thought.

“Who’s Alton Brown?” I asked cautiously. He wasn’t on my list of people who know about cooking, but then I took my cooking lessons from my mother the Field Marshal, and she’s been in her grave a few years. I poured a glass of wine…live and learn, I thought.

He plugged in the computer and fired it up, and before long, this Alton guy was talking, and my friend was taking notes. Alton was drinking wine, too, so I joined him with another glass.

My friend opened the shoebox and unveiled a pound box of salt, candied something, and several sprigs of green that I had never seen before. My friend boiled a few things from the box and bag and dumped them into a bucket and put this wonderful, perfectly good sixteen-pound turkey in the bucket. “It’s a brined turkey,” Alton announced. “An eighteen-hour soak, then we cook. It’ll be fabulous, just wait and see.” My wine bottle was nearly empty, but luckily, I had a second.

The turkey was good, moist and tasty, but who in the world would have thought to soak a turkey in salt water and how many turkeys did he have to buy to perfect his recipe. I think Alton has too much time on his hands.

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