Thanksgiving is the day wait no the week that everyone stuffs their face with enough food to feed a small family, we gather with friends and family and sit around and eat until we feel like we are going to burst and then go back for seconds, and thirds, and even fourths.
I haven’t been able to go home for thanksgiving in a few years but I can still taste my dads’ fried turkey, my aunts’ green bean casserole, my grandmothers stuffing, and my other aunts’ banana pudding. I wish that I had a deed fryer so that I could fry a turkey, I would have to say that is the best way to cook a turkey, no matter how much you baste your oven roasted turkey it will never be as juicy and flavorful as a fried turkey in my opinion.
Growing up we raised turkey from being a few days old until we slaughtered them a few days before thanksgiving for the freshest tasting meal we would ever have. Raising upward to 50 birds at a time was a lot of work, cleaning, feeding, and walking, yes I said walking! You are probably thinking I am nuts for that but really it helps build even more breast muscles on them which makes for even more meat to eat.
The months before I would weigh the turkeys often to see how they were developing, making sure that they were eating enough and getting enough exercise so that they would grow properly. Now I am sure that you are used to going to the store and purchasing a turkey around 15lbs, to us a 15lb turkey was small and would wait for them to get bigger before using them for their meat. Our turkeys would have to be cut in half to be able to fit into the oven and even then they would fill the whole oven and need two people to properly place it there. Once our turkeys were slaughtered, gutted, and plucked they would weigh upwards to 50 pounds. It would take two of us to hold it up to the plucker and we would have to take breaks because our arms would get to tired.
Thanksgiving dinner back home would start at noon and last through the whole day. Waking up in the morning to the sun coming through the window and the fog in the field was one of the prettiest sites.
I remember the mornings smelling all of the foods that were being cooked. My father would be up getting things together so that he could fry his turkey and depending on the year they would normally switch between smoking another turkey in the smoker outside or roasting on in the oven. My mother would be assembling her Italian cream cheese cake, which was something that we never had leftovers of. When everyone started to arrive they would bring in their dish that they make year after year because it is the one that everyone would request them to bring and start laying it out on either the dinner food table or the dessert table. My father goes to Montana every year a week before thanksgiving and always comes back with fresh smoked salmon and he would have his salmon dip out that would be devoured within moments of everyone getting there. We would play washers and horse shoes, my uncle and brother would set up their guitars and sit out on the porch and play blues for everyone while we waited for the fried turkey to be finished so we could start eating. The kids would run in the field with my parents’ dog following close behind and me and my youngest brother would ride motorcycles in the field or go down by the bayou and ride.
Once the turkey was finished we would all get a heaping spoonful of everything that was brought and sit back outside in lawn chairs on the back porch were there was a ice chest that was full of beer that everyone who drank contributed to, some people would sit in the living room on the couch and others at the kitchen table. We made round after round of food, filling ourselves till we felt we couldn’t eat anymore before we would dig into the desserts. After we had all had our fill of food some would nap in the bedrooms, others would sprawl out on the couch with the paper in hand looking through the black Friday adds, and others sat at the table and played Skip-Bo. Skip-Bo is the card game that we would have to take turns playing because everyone would want to get in on the game. People made more rounds at the food throughout the day as they went from inside the house to outside, most would just grab a piece of turkey and walk about. We always had most turkey than could be eaten and my mother would have to make plates of it to send home with people and we would still end up with a huge freezer bag full which would end up getting used to make gumbo the following week, and a bag full that would end up being drenched in BBQ sauce to make turkey sandwiches with the rest of the week.
I will end up posting some of my favorite recipes for a few things that everyone should have on thanksgiving within the few days.
Cajun Spiced Bourbon Injected Turkey