Nov 24, 2011

A Memorable Thanksgiving...

It was Thanksgiving, 2004.  Mary Ann and I had been married for four months.  We wanted to do something special.  That's when I heard a review on the radio (I think it was NPR) of a "different" way of preparing the turkey.  It was described as having a rich flavor and producing very moist, tender meat.  What could be better?!?  Here is the recipe that we decided to try:

10-12 pound turkey
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup milk or cream
1 cup water

  • Heat oven to 325°F
  • Prepare turkey for roasting.
  • Combine peanut butter, flour, paprika, salt, celery salt and pepper.  Stir until blended, adding enough milk to make a medium paste.
  • Spread paste over entire turkey, covering well.  Place on rack in roasting pan.  Add 1 cup water to pan.
  • Bake at 325°F for 3-4 hours or until meat thermometer registers 180° to 185°F.  Baste every 30 minutes with pan juices.
  • Note stuffed turkey requires 30-45 minutes more roasting time.
Our experience didn't exactly match the description I had had heard on the radio.  We combined the peanut butter, flour, paprika, salt, celery salt and pepper just as directed and added milk to form a medium paste.  We coated the bird generously and placed it on the rack in the roasting pan, adding water in the bottom of the pan.   With those preparations completed, we began to roast this tan-coated beauty.

The first thing I observed was that as soon as the bird began to warm up, the coating slid off like frosting on a warm summer day and formed a mound of goo in the roasting pan.  Very little remained on the bird.  That didn't seem to match the descriptions that I had heard.  This was supposed to form a delicious golden crust on the bird's skin.  We continued cooking.  I basted that bird every half hour just as I was supposed to.  The smell didn't seem to be encouraging.  The heat of the oven on the bottom of the roasting pan seemed to be burning the collected goo.

At the end of our allotted four hours, we retrieved the results from the oven.  The bird was inedible, the pan, encrusted with black tar, was practically uncleanable, and the entire house smelled like peanut flavored charcoal.  It was a less than successful experiment.

I have since learned that the recipe was originally published in The Black Family Reunion Cookbook (Recipes & Food Memories™), published in 1991 by the National Council of Negro Women.  I'd still like to try turkey cooked this way by someone with sufficient "soul" to make it work.

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