Monday, November 29, 2010

Thankful we didn't require the services of the local fire department

Today's tale is a long one. You may want to grab a beverage. And possibly a snack.


I'm not a huge traditionalist.

So when we decided to postpone our Thanksgiving meal to Friday to accommodate family members (who would be dining with other family on Thursday), we also decided to switch up the regular menu so that nobody would have to eat the same food two days in a row.

To me, this meant one thing: a chance to experiment! (Those who know me well know that I put the "mental" in "experimental." And those who don't are about to find out.)

Hence, a deconstructed Thanksgiving, reconstructed on a Mediterranean theme. The menu included pesto-stuffed mushrooms, polenta with parmesan, Italian bread with garlic-infused olive oil, and pomegranate lemonade (plus a couple of other side dishes that were nudged toward the Mediterranean region with olive oil and lemon juice, because I can't let go of a theme).

And herb-marinated turkey breast overlaid with bacon, because a true Italian meal must have a pork product. (It would have been prosciutto except for the expense. Plus, by the time I thought of it, our local prosciutto vendor was closed for the holiday. And that's the first time I've ever said "our local prosciutto vendor" — it makes us sound far more sophisticated than we actually are.)

Pomegranates, lemons and grapes say "ciào!" (Corn says "chow.")

And since it wasn't too cold out, and there was no snow on the deck, it seemed like it might be fun to cook the turkey on the gas grill.

Now, my grilling experiments usually turn out well. For example, one of those experiments yielded such happy results that it's forever changed the way I do homemade pizza. (Yes, pizza. On the grill. It's amazing.)

But here's where a sensible person would rethink the bacon thing.

I was planning to use the grill like an oven, heating only half the burners and cooking the turkey over indirect heat like I'd seen Alton Brown do.

Everything was going pretty smoothly until about an hour in, when I checked on the bacon-enrobed bird and thought, well, how is that bacon going to get crispy? So I took the tongs and rolled the turkey onto the heated grates.

And then this happened:

"Those flames were really big, Dad..." (name that movie)

I can't say that what I did next would have made Alton happy. After all, he's the guy who hates all "unitaskers" (his word for any kitchen tool that has only a single purpose), except for one:

I stood there looking at the flaming bird, and started laughing. And as I contemplated what to do next, my husband ran back into the house and grabbed... not the fire extinguisher, but the camera.

Because what's more important — having a nice, safe holiday meal, or documenting a pork-and-poultry conflagration?

Holding flaming turkey aloft for a portrait, while bacon continues to burn on the grill

Flaming turkey relocated to the unheated side, while bacon still continues to burn

Turkey flames extinguished, and charred bacon still continues to burn

Once all the excitement (and flames) had died down, and the turkey had finally finished cooking (which required time in both the oven and the microwave, because the propane ran out partway through the cooking process), we sat down to dinner about two hours later than I'd intended.

So, how was the meal?

It actually turned out pretty well. And I've learned some important lessons about grilling turkey:
  1. If you're going to drape the bird with bacon, put it in a foil roasting pan... and keep it away from direct flame.
  2. Make sure your propane tank is full.
  3. When you grill, always, always remember to keep the most important piece of equipment close at hand:



  1. I'm so glad you are able to laugh at this. I'm so sorry you burnt the turkey, but I've done similar things (like run out of propane).
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. Turkey's funny that way, Pam.

    I haven't watched that movie in a long time!

  3. yes little forgot an important chemistry lesson... fat+fire=flames.
    But I also listened to Alton annoying as he brined, unstuffed, turkey turned out fabulous.....yea!!

  4. I'm going to try this again, applying the lessons I learned this go-round. (Get back on the horse that threw ya, and all that.)


All comments are moderated by the blog's author prior to publication.