Turkey Talk


Now that’s a turkey!  Or is it?  It’s une dinde, a French turkey, all 7 kilos of it, which is about 16 lbs.  Big.  It doesn’t look like any turkey I’ve ever cooked.  It’s dark and wild looking, although the few remaining feathers are white, so it must be farmed.  The skin is stuck tight to the breast, making me rethink my plan to rub the breast under the skin with herb butter.  I won’t be brining it, who even knows if French turkeys need brining?  Besides, I don’t have anything big enough to brine it in, the fridge couldn’t handle it, and it’s not cold enough outside to make an outdoor fridge.

And notre dinde is too big for any pan in the house, so I bought a pan big enough for the bird, but that’s too big for the oven.  All of this is the reason I got the turkey today, to have an extra day to scurry around trying to make things work out right.

In other Thanksgiving news, if there’s a cranberry to be found in town, I’m not going to be the one to find it.  I did find some cranberry juice, however, so I’m planning to cook some quinces in cranberry juice and call it cranberry sauce.  I got some sweet potatoes from Israel, and I’ve made a sort of cornbread for the stuffing using fine polenta for the cornmeal and an Arab fermented milk product for the buttermilk.

I shouldn’t even be giving away all these secrets, since our French guests might be reading this, and I really want to give them an authentic Thanksgiving dinner.  But in truth scraping and scrounging and doing the best you can with what you have is authentic, when you come right down to it.  That must be what the Pilgrims did, and they sure didn’t have any Calvados to add to their apple tart.  Put like that,  I guess really have a lot to be thankful for.

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11 Comments on “Turkey Talk”

  1. Malarkey Says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Abra & Shel! (and who ever may be gracing your table this year)

  2. Steve Says:

    It looks like that bird *really* wants to be brined. You can turn up a five-gallon bucket somewhere, can’t you? Put some ice in the brine water and you’re cool. So to speak.

  3. Shel Says:

    Ice? Five-gallon bucket? Heh … I’m sure there is ice in France, but I haven’t seen it in the stores, or in my glass unless I beg for it. Unlike the US, there’s not an empty five-gallon sheet-rock mud bucket in every garage, either. I’m not sure M. Le Dinde would fit in one, anyway, as he’s rather portly. Perhaps an “extra gran patron” size bucket exists, somewhere, though. Of course, that leaves the problems of (a) describing it in French and (b) finding a place that sells ’em. The latter can be difficult here, since the stores are rather specialized… It’s all in the Pilgrim spirit, though, celebrating our new-found ability to live off a foreign land and amuse the natives in the process.

  4. samantha Says:

    I don’t know if you have on near you, but you can usually get frozen cranberries (and bagels and corn on the cob) from Picard.

    And buttermilk is called “lait ribot” and can be found near the fresh milk in the dairy section!

  5. Stephanie Says:

    Happy Thanksgiving from the Busboys!

  6. barb Says:

    That bird, while very substantial, looks decidedly lacking in fat. Looking forward to hearing how it all turned out

  7. Eden Says:

    the part where the pan is too big for the oven is what worries me. Do you have a baking sheet that won’t buckle under the weight of the bird? Can you get extra wide aluminum foil there & “make” a pan with several layers of that to contain the drippings? I’m sure you can’t find a reynolds oven bag within 500 miles of you ;->
    If not I think Steve is right & you’re going to have to whack this baby apart. :-<

    If you can resolve the pan issue, then re the cooking process, I’d bet you can get a larding needle easier than a bucket over there – a larding needle will put the lard under the skin where you need it as well as on the outside, so that would be my best suggestion, and of course some butter on the outside to as well.

  8. Abra Says:

    Oh you guiys, we are SO in the boonies here! You’d be amazed at how much stuff isn’t available,

    However, I’m just going to cook the turkey right on the oven pan (which isn”t a rack but a sheet) and hope to avoid having to call in the firemen. It might be a good thing the turkey is lean, easier to avoid grease fires in the oven that way.

    I did buy some frozen airelles, because the translation on the box was “cranberries” but they’re tiny little things like currants, not too sour. I cooked them with a quince for added pectin, in cranberry juice for added flaver, and now I’m waiting to see if it sets up. I have my doubts.

    And there’s to be no whacking or spatchcocking. Wow, that sounds pretty risqué, actually. Presentation is half the thing, for this meal, even though I’m sure that cutting it up would yield better results, moisture-wise.

  9. […] FRENCH LETTERS Food, Wine, France! « Turkey Talk […]

  10. Heinz Says:

    Hello Abra,
    I can imagine, that food and appliances you’ve used abroad are not available in France. Well but improvisation makes life adventurous.

  11. Ray Says:

    Great writing Madame! Thanksgiving Turkey photo a stand-out……remarkably different looking bird than it’s American counterpart….and your piece on Paris was ‘sobering’…..wine would help the ‘digestion’ of assimilating the reality of the ‘dark’ side of the city of lights, I would hope. Thanks for sharing your perspectives/experiences.

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