One should be scrupulously hygienic when handling raw turkey flesh. Raw poultry is notorious for carrying food-borne pathogens, which are usually rendered harmless with cooking.
After rinsing the thawed bird with cold water, removing the entrails neatly stowed away in the bird’s cavity, patting the bird dry and finally massaging the bird with oil and seasoning before popping it into the oven, perform a thorough handwashing with antibacterial soap. Also be sure that any work surfaces the bird may have come in contact with are sanitized.
Most are compulsive about avoiding cross contamination when handling raw meat, but I am astounded how lackadaisical our ancestors were about the matter.
I never tire of flipping through old cookbooks, the older the better. I recently came across a crumbling version of “Mrs. Beeton’s Every Day Cookery and Housekeeping Book.”
First published in 1861, it was one of the first recipe books of its kind. Its format set the precedent for how we format recipes today. The publishing and subsequent popularity of the book was aided by the fact the author’s husband, James Orchart Beeton, was a publisher of books and magazines.
The book is written in a very “Upstairs, Downstairs” manner, intended for households with servants presided over by a mistress of the manor like Mrs. Beeton. In the opening section, Mrs. Beeton’s “Philosophy of Housekeeping,” she says any lady of the manor content to order daily what is wanted will not have the excellent dinners obtained by a little forethought: “There are but few weeks in England when it is not safe to hang meat. Well hung meat goes further than fresh meat and does credit to buyer and cook.”
If easily prone to upset stomachs, skip the rest of this paragraph. For roast turkey, Mrs. Beeton says middling-size birds are best and they should never be dressed the same day they are killed. In cold weather turkeys should hang at least eight days before being dressed. No wonder Mrs. Beeton died quite young.
Unlike today, in Beeton’s time turkeys were a seasonal commodity best served from December to February. Obviously global warming was not an issue then.
I won’t be hanging any meat in my household and would likely garner the ire of Mrs. Beeton were she alive today. My lack of forethought requires almost daily trips to the grocery store.
I will, however, thaw the turkey iceberg ahead of time and gather up some wines made from varietals not often recommended in this column. Select from the following less-commonly popular varietals that pair excellently with Southern Thanksgiving cuisine:
2010 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Pinot Gris. $11.99 at Publix. Pinot gris/pinot grigio, the same grape varietal, though called by both names in America, comes in a range of styles. In Italy pinot grigio can be bracingly dry and acidic. Pinot gris from Washington State and Oregon are polar opposites to their Italian counterparts like this Washington State light, versatile, fruit-driven, off-sweet wine.
2011 Villa Wolf Gewurztraminer (geh-vert-trah-meaner). $13 range at both Tyson’s Fine Wines in Golden Springs and the Wine Cellar on Quintard. From Germany, this slightly off-sweet wine laced with pleasant acidity pairs especially well with sweet potato casserole and corn bread dressing. It also works as an aperitif.
Eroica 2011 Riesling. $24.99 at Publix. Eroica named for Beethoven’s third symphony. A collaborative effort of Ernst Loosen from the old-world German riesling estate of Dr. Loosen and Bob Bertheau of Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington State. Fruit is sourced from various vineyards selected for the unique traits each imparts to this wine. Slight sweetness on the approach. Bright fruit flavors balanced with just the right amount of acid to make the wine dance in the mouth.
Meiomi Pinot Noir 2012. $16.75 at Tyson’s. Made by fifth-generation winemaker, Joseph J. Wagner of the famous Caymus Vineyard Wagners, this is a medium-bodied pinot with bright fruit aromas and supple tannins. Local favorite among the pinot crowd. A perfect Thanksgiving wine.
Email Pat Kettles at email@example.com