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Turkey-Free Thanksgiving!

John Liu
last year
last modified: last year

Our first post-pandemic Thanksgiving approaches. I know, the pandemic is not over. But this is the first year in the last three that we will have a large gathering again, all mentally totting up the weeks since our third booster and trying to talk over the five HEPA air cleaners running full blast.

This will also be the first year in the last three that we have had a working dishwasher. At the start of 2020, my trusty Hobart warewasher started leaking into the basement below. Inspection revealed a seep where a fitting was welded to the hot water tank, and a larger leak from somewhere deep in the machine's bowels. Since the Hobart was only used for large gatherings, I disconnected the machine and ignored it for almost three years. SWMBO finally insisted that we must have a working dishwasher or Thanksgiving would be cancelled.

The seep was "repaired" with JB Weld, which seemed preferable to the $1,600 price of a new tank. The leaky bowels turned out to be the braided steel supply hose, crushed at some point in the machine's life and leaking at a point several inches from the machine's exterior, with water running down the hose and puddling in said bowels. Easy, just unscrew and replace the supply hose. It attaches - yes, deep in the machine - at a place that I can barely see and cannot reach without separating the machine's upper and lower halves, disconnecting old and brittle hoses and fittings, and likely engendering a profusion of new leaks, if I could even figure out how to lift the very heavy upper tank off the lower base. Not a good design. I'm not an appliance proctologist.

Another "ghetto fix" - cut out the worst-damaged part of the supply hose and rejoin the remaining parts with a brass barbed connecter and hose clamps. Then muscle the insanely heavy thing back into its home under the counter, close eyes, press "ON", and . . . HOBART LIVES! Running about twenty cycles with bleach got rid of the rotten water smell, and we are in the party business again.

To work on the Hobart, we had to empty and move the center island/work cabinet, which is itself very heavy. How can something from IKEA weigh so much? In a huff, I mounted casters on the legs, so we won't have to go through that again. I also resolved to start working out again, because this stuff wasn't as heavy the last time I worked on it.

On to the food. We have decided to have a turkey-free Thanksgiving. I don't particularly like turkey and the hassle of roasting a bird big enough for fifteen, making the gravy, and the stressful tableside carving is something I'm happy to skip. We have a mess of ribeye and tenderloin in the freezer, and reclaiming that space will be another bonus. The tentative plan is sous vide then pan-sear the meat, make a big batch of red wine reduction for the ribeye and Grand Marnier-and-drippings sauce for the tenderloin, pairing with scallops which we also seem to have a giant bag of in the freezer. We have warned everyone of this flagrant breach of holiday tradition, and no-one seems to care.

But now my conscience nags. Really, not a molecule of turkey? I am thinking about getting some turkey legs, so that people can get just a taste if they want it. I don't want to roast it, and my sous vide sticks will be occupied with the beef, so was thinking about deboning and braising the turkey leg meat. Maybe even making a sort of turkey au vin.

What do you think? I have zero experience doing anything with turkey other than roasting the whole bird.

For the sides, it will be the usual festive and random assortment of whatever people bring. I'm planning my usual creamed corn with Grand Marnier and creamed spinach with Amaretto. For the mashed potatoes, I plan to substitute a cheese-y cauliflower puree. Hopefully someone will bring a green bean casserole - the holidays are not complete without GBC.

A party. What a concept. We're out of practice giving parties. But I guess everyone is out of practice attending them. So we will all lurch into this brave new world together.

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