Do Not Boil The Turkey

Katy Grimes: My grandmother was Welsh. Her parents arrived from Wales during the gold rush, but never made it past Illinois. She was a lovely woman, well-educated, and schooled in all of the social graces, but she never quite mastered culinary skills.

My family was not able to spend many holidays with our Midwest and East Coast relatives, but when we did, Grandma cooked… like a Welsh woman.

Boiled turkey was her specialty. Perhaps it’s why I am a vegetarian.

This year, I decided to see if her boiling skills were rooted in any Welsh history, and found a recipe for boiled turkey dating back to 1623.

It’s simple: Plop a whole turkey in salted, boiling water, and cook for 1-2 hours. Add onions, herbs, peppercorns and some sugar. When the bird reaches 165 degrees, somehow get it out of the pot.

This sounds just like grandma’s! Only the bird is supposed to come out of the pot in one piece. Alas, my precious grandmother’s birds usually were missing a limb or two by the time she had grandpapa help her put the bird on a serving platter.

The Welsh are known for many interesting things, but cooking is not one of them.

And the other half of my family is Irish, known more for Irish whisky and Guinness consumption skills.

However, I lucked out in the kitchen arts and like to cook. But I have my Italian stepmother to thank for that.

Politics around my Thanksgiving table are another issue. My family is filled with teachers, cops, an actor and a postal carrier. The Martha Stewart quality of my holiday meal doesn’t matter when I find myself knee deep in union membership discussions.

Maybe this year I’ll boil the turkey for my family – it might just leave them speechless.

NOV. 23, 2010

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