In some ways it’s only fitting that the first Longtable/Forks on the Left blogpost is Thanksgiving related. Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday since as long as I can remember – if there is such a thing as a Longtable Lifestyle -- the family/friends/food/wine thing that Thanksgiving brings, is it.
We tend to have big turnouts for Thanksgiving, this year, the table was for thirty-five and that meant 86 pounds of turkey. I’ve long ago stopped preparing whole turkeys for our celebration, choosing instead to give each part of the bird its best chance to shine. The choice leads to moments like this one (dubbed “Synchronized Turkey Breakdown Family Band” by my daughter, Sophie, on the left, showing off her mad butchering skills).
The breasts most often get cooked “sous-vide” with earthy, wild-mushroom puree or light herbs to maximize the white meat’s delicate flavor and moist texture; the legs and thighs get brined overnight with bay and citrus and aromatics and smoked/then grilled to enhance the dense, rich substance… And the wings? Ah, the wings… we think about those wings all year:
Crispy skin with a lightly-salted finish, moist and meaty, fall-off-the-bone tender with just a tug of the tooth… They are done “confit” – cooked low and slow under flavorful oil and then finished in a hot oven until they crackle like a potato-chip bubble. We did four birds this year, wings separated into three pieces (I did the tails this way, too) – there were twenty-eight pieces in all, and they landed on the table near the end of the meal when chairs were being pushed back and the “no-more/can’t believe I ate all that” looks had landed solidly on guests’ faces – every bite of wing and tail vanished in minutes with even the reluctant left fighting to share.