AN ANCIENT, HOLIDAY TALL TALE OF PANDORA'S TURKEY
By Dan Bernstein
Although the column below first appeared last year, the recipe for Pandora's Turkey will work in 1997 -- provided you do not attempt to use the same turkey. The recipe is called "Pandora's Turkey" because it is based on the true story of Pandora, who according to Greek mythology was the first woman on earth. (Ancient Greek saying: "Eve, schmeve.") Pandora had it all: beauty, knowledge, cunning, flattery, and several godlike outfits. (It was all a setup, of course. Zeus, angered that an assistant god named Prometheus had stolen fire and given it to men, retaliated by ordering other gods to manufacture an evil being whom all men would desire. They put their wings together and rolled out Pandora.)
Pandora was a definite babe, but there was a downside. She carried around a box that the gods had warned her never to open. (As if.) One Thanksgiving, she lifted the lid ever so slightly and out flew all the world's troubles: diseases, vices, sins, tenure, Yanni, etc.
In a hastily organized Greek chorus, the gods bellowed: "HEY! PUT A LID ON IT!" But it was too late. Keep that in mind if you follow this recipe. For you, too, will be sorely tempted.
Bird specifications: Squatty. You've got to keep that lid closed. A big fat turkey known among chefs as "The Limbaugh" will make this difficult.
Stuffing: Fake stuffing recipe below. Not meant to be eaten. Real stuffing should be cooked separately.
Basting: Don't even think about it. Pandora's Turkey needs to be ignored. One baste, and the deal's off.
1 turkey (preferably dead) 18 to 22 pounds
2 yellow onions
5 ribs o' celery
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning or dried sage (Do not substitute Hershey's chocolate sauce)
1/2 cup veg oil or melted butter
Salt `n' Peppa (current album)
Did I mention you need a covered kettle-type grill? If you only have a hibachi, just snip off the wings and grill them.
Start with a "clean" grill (this is what the recipe says, but the author could not have foreseen the televised Redskins-Dallas clash, so cleanliness is optional).
Ignite five pounds -- or 5 lbs. (whichever is easier) of charcoal. While you're waiting for the coals to "catch," drive to Vegas to get a bet down on the Redskins-Dallas clash or clean the turkey (whichever is easier).
Cleaning the turkey: Remove neck and giblets from inside bird. Wash bird with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Place turkey in heavy-duty, bullet-proof aluminum roasting pan.
Because the coals are still "catching," chop the celery and onions coarsely (this means you may use bad words when you start to cry).
Dump in large bowl, mix with 1/2 cup melted butter and the poultry seasoning or sage. This is called "aromatic stuffing," i.e., to be smelled, not eaten. Stuff it in the neck cavity. Stuff rest in body cavity. No warrant required.
Tie the legs together (most turkeys are born with a "metal fastener"; RPD may use cuffs). Sensuously rub turkey with butter or vegetable oil. Sprinkle with salt `n' peppa.
Turkey should be sitting in roast pan, breast side up.
Guess what? Coals have "caught"! Or you're going to Coco's. Coals should be at that "fine gray ash" stage. Make two piles and shove them to either side (Red Sea effect). Put the grill in place. Put the turkey (in roasting pan) right in the middle. Put the lid on. DON'T TAKE IT OFF. All vents should be open, as required by law.
Without actually singeing your ear, listen for "cooking noises." Soon you will start to smell a "delightful aroma." (This comes from the "metal fastener" that binds the legs together.) In 2 ? to 3 hours, when the turkey has stopped making "cooking noises" and no more smoke is rising from the vents, we will have a new pope. Also, the turkey is done.
Remove the turkey from the grill, lift it out of the pan, let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. If you'd been sitting in a hot, dark grill with your legs bound together and onions in your neck, you'd need to rest, too.
After you've said, "I told you so" to your closest relatives, especially your mother-in-law, sit down and eat.
(Dan Bernstein is a columnist for The Press-Enterprise and appears on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday..)
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