After the culinary fiasco of 2004, I approached this year’s Thanksgiving with some trepidation. My confidence was not bolstered when Xy finally read the creme bruleé recipe and asked the following immortal question:
What’s an egg yolk?
I couldn’t believe she was serious, but it turns out she’s never separated an egg before and couldn’t remember which part was which. Hint: The white is the part that turns white when you cook it. The yolk is the other part.
My main responsibility was the turkey. Here’s how I did it.
My original idea was to follow a recipe in the paper that called for slow-cooking turkey legs with mandarin oranges. However, as Thanksgiving Day approached we realized that our crockpot was not big enough to accommodate the six large legs Xy had purchased. Also, it seemed like a shame not to use the Big Green Egg for such an occasion. So I decided to change gears.
From Recipe Link I got the idea to brine the legs, something I’d never even heard of before.
Making the brine was easy: a gallon of water, a cup of salt, half a cup of brown sugar, a gallon of veggie stock. (Actually I didn’t use a full cup of salt. I used 3/4 cup and rounded it off with a 1/4 cup Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning.) Bring to a boil. Let it return to room temperature, then combine with a bunch of ice water and immerse the turkey legs. Put it in the fridge overnight.
In the morning I fired up the Big Green Egg, and got it about as hot as I ever have, over 900ºF, I think. Then I took it back down to something like 250º. I had a lot of pecan wood chips intermixed with the charcoal to impart a nice smoky flavor.
I rinsed the brine off the legs and got them on the grill around 9:30 AM. Smoked ‘em for a good four hours. More like five probably. After the first two hours, I turned them and thought they looked a little dry, so I decided to concoct a mop. Returning to the mandarin orange idea, we made a glazing sauce out of fresh-squeezed satsuma juice and honey (and lemon and olive oil and butter and maybe some other stuff). I then turned and mopped the legs every half hour or so until it was time to eat.
They turned out well. In fact, they were so appetizing that even my vegetarian friends were tempted into sampling them.
But next year I’d like to try making them a little spicier. Maybe some more cayenne in the brine or the glaze.
Also on the menu: raw oysters (plus a few thrown on the grill) and oyster dressing and Xy’s famous cheeseball and herbed mashed potatoes and green bean casserole and cranberry sauce (with the “can lines still visible”) and sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie and home-made thin mint cookies (even better than the Girl Scout version).
And of course, Xy’s key lime creme bruleé.
Despite several mishaps, she pulled it together, and it was delicious.
But mostly we were happy to enjoy the company of friends: Daisy and DJ and Anna and her daughter Lily and Christina from New York who joined us at the last minute.
Footnote: After the meal we eventually made a pilgrimage to a suburban cineplex to see American Gangster which turns out to be a perfect Thanksgiving flick.