Fire up the deep fryer, have a little eggnog, and Happy Thanksgiving


November 18, 2007|By JANET GILBERT

After watching a few minutes of the nightly news, you might feel pretty ungrateful about the 2007 holiday season that kicks off with Thanksgiving.

There's plenty of senseless death, destruction and wasted potential to validate that point of view. And if you have suffered a personal loss of any kind, the season can seem like a cruel, monthlong game of charades. Who wants to paste on a smile and parade through the open-house circuit, making festive chitchat with people who might not understand the depth of your pain?

Whoa. Happy Thanksgiving.

But I'm not going to tell you to snap out of it. And I'm not going to prescribe a bunch of feel-good cliches instructing you to smell a newborn baby's skin or take a drive to enjoy the kaleidoscope of fall colors or sip hot cider by a crackling bonfire.

But I am going to tell you how to deep-fat-fry a turkey.

Because, friends, I have found that there is nothing like a challenging but rewarding holiday task, such as plunging a 14-pound bird into a vat of hot oil in your backyard, to occupy your mind - as well as to bring on the Howard County volunteer fire department, probably the most fun-loving public servants you could have at an impromptu Thanksgiving party.

Here's how you do it.

First, buy a turkey. I do not recommend you go to a turkey farm with your children. For some odd reason, I did this years ago, after a preschool field trip to a local turkey farm. I guess I had not thought the process through - we're going to look at these turkeys, and we're going to pick one out, and we're going to do WHAT? That was one Happy Vegan Thanksgiving in Janet's World.

Go to the grocery store, where the turkeys no longer remotely resemble turkeys, but extra-large frozen nuggets encased in yellow netting.

Then head for the hardware store to buy yourself a fryer. Don't forget to pick up an embarrassingly huge plastic jug of oil. This builds character, especially if you run into your Weight Watchers counselor in the parking lot.

Next, you need a spouse or friend who likes cooking outdoors while everyone else is inside sampling Pop Flood's eggnog. This is yet another dangerous Janet's World holiday tradition that uses real eggs and heavy cream. The recipe is on my Web site nonetheless; try it at your own risk ( Look, you're deep-fat-frying a turkey - why skimp on the eggnog?

While your designated fryer is outside experiencing the paradox of freezing while monitoring boiling oil, you must prepare the bird.

Deep-fat-frying offers an exciting new food-preparation element - infusing your victuals with flavors via injection. Also, you can wow your guests with the culinary phrase: "Make yourself comfortable, I'm just infusing our victuals with flavors via injection." The deep-fat-fryer we purchased came with a syringe and a bottle of "Cajun butter sauce."

This adds an unusual medical element to the holiday food preparation. First, spin the bird around on the examination table (cutting board), discussing where to inject it.

Then give the syringe to the most scientific member of the family, who will perform the procedure repeatedly and with an admirable detached demeanor.

Finally, lower the bird into the boiling oil outside and keep it there for just about an hour. Your fry guy stands guard while you relax inside.

How easy is that?

After the third cup of eggnog, you're going to get some ideas. There are many injection possibilities that go along with my Jones-Beach-not-South-Beach method of eating. Cupcakes with Grand Marnier? Grocery-store doughnuts with Belgian chocolate? Perhaps I'll put my inventive cooking demos up on YouTube if I can get a camera lens large enough to accommodate my new double-wide post-holiday torso.

Feel better?

Just remember, fun is everywhere you make it.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Contact Janet at

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