For weeks now, public relations people have been bombarding my e-mail inbox with suggestions for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Some of them are outright commercialism, such as the aforementioned “Cook Thanksgiving Dinner in Your … Fireplace” e-mail.
But in the bunch, there have actually been a few bits of useful information. My favorite recent one follows, submitted by a PR person on behalf of Tamara Reynods, author of “Forking Fantastic: Put the PARTY Back in Dinner Party” (Gotham Books, Oct 2009). I’ve never heard of Ms. Reynods, but the bio says she has done stints at top New York City restaurants and now runs an underground supper club in Astoria Queens.
I’m especially fond of Tip No. 5 — invite an orphan. When I was growing up, there were always a few extra people around the table at Thanksgiving time, and they became extended family. My philosophy has always been the more the merrier.
Top 5 Turkey Day Tips
1. Buy Organic or Heritage if at all possible. The difference between a factory farmed bird and an organic one is so great it is shocking. Plus, an organic bird is so tasty it does half of the work for you—less chance of bland, dried out breast meat! And if cost is a real issue, ditch the plan for a $50 centerpiece that will just get in the way of the food and wine and put the money towards the better turkey.
2. Brine your bird. Even if just overnight, a little salt/sugar brine seals in the juiciness of the bird and helps combat that “oh no—the leg isn’t done but the breast is looking like turkey jerky!!” problem.
3. Although Thanksgiving is one of the most rigid of culinary holidays, take a chance. Go ahead, make your favorite childhood dishes (green bean casserole, anyone?) but take a chance on one recipe that you have never made—and try it out. Who knows? It might become a new favorite!
4. Have plenty of vegetables. Vegetables can be easy fillers, are seasonal, and – gasp! Good for you! The turkey, potatoes, stuffing and gravy will take up a lot of space, but your guests will be so thankful you served them some greens and a salad, trust us! Plus, most vegetables can be served room temp, and that takes the pressure off having to keep everything HOT at the same time.
5. Invite an orphan. I know, I know… you have a beautiful tablecloth, and matching placemats, but only have 8 and if you invite Old Lady Leary/Fred from downstairs/Ula from across the street that will make 9 people and 9 is an odd number and there aren’t enough placemats, and someone will have to sit on the stepstool, and… and… and… that isn’t very House Beautiful at all, is it? No, it might not win an award in a shiny magazine for most beautiful table, but that is not what Thanksgiving is for. Invite an orphan—someone who needs a place to go. If there is one holiday that is all about giving this is it. It will be the best new tradition you could implement.