The Ghost of THANKSGIVING Past

November 30, 2016
by
2 mins read

My Thanksgiving was thoroughly enjoyable. There was a lot of food and family bonding, but the most fun things are the traditions. Most families have some sort of rituals, nearly all centered around the food. When I was a kid, every year we’d go over to my aunt’s house where all my father’s family gathered. The women would cook (that’s where the fun was) and the men would argue politics.

That was nice, but things change. For a good portion of my adult life, I’ve spent my Thanksgiving Day in professional kitchens. The process would begin in August — the usual deadline for ordering turkeys. We would typically order about 125 turkeys for service and then an additional 500 for employee gifts.

The next step would be to bulk up on chicken stock, which we would fortify with turkey necks. This would start about four weeks out, as approximately 150 gallons were required. The turkeys would arrive about a week before, so they would have plenty of time to slack out.

The day itself would begin around one in the morning. That’s when the first round of turkeys would hit the ovens. Five rounds of turkeys would need to be cooked. By the beginning of service, the third round would be coming out of the oven. This would continue until around four in the afternoon. At this point, every pore in your body would be filled with turkey essence, an essence (aroma) that would last for days! Ah, fond memories.

My favorite Thanksgiving Day tradition: watching Turkey Frying Disasters on YouTube. Hilarious, side-splitting humor. I wish I could be the color commentator for these videos.

“As usual, they have put too much peanut oil in the kettle; will people ever learn to compensate for the volume of the turkey? Let’s hope not! I’m sure the oil is way too hot, as well. OK, so they are about to place the turkey in the oil … OH NO, IT SLIPPED OUT OF HIS HAND! Holy moley, look at that explosion — the whole kettle is in flames!”

Awesome. This was my entertainment while y’all were Black Friday shopping.

For a holiday detox, try these Italian-style clams and make sure you have some crusty bread to sop up the amazing broth.
____________________ 

Chef Bill’s CLAMS IN CARTOCCIO
Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces olive oil
  • 1 ounce pancetta
  • 1/2 red pepper, small dice
  • 1 red jalapeño or other mild chili, Brunoise
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced paper-thin
  • 4 ounces white wine
  • 1 tbsp. parsley, chopped
  • 2 dozen Little Neck clams, thoroughly scrubbed
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp. assorted herbs, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Thoroughly scrub the clams. Put in refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the pancetta, sauté until it begins to brown.
  3. Add peppers, parsley and garlic. Continue to sauté until the garlic begins to brown. Add tomatoes and herbs.
  4. Pour in the white wine and remove from heat. Taste for seasoning and adjust if desired.
  5. Make two foil trays with the sides about two inches tall.
  6. Place half the clams in each tray, cover with pepper and wine mixture. Pull up the sides to form a packet, crimp tightly.
  7. Place on the grill and listen for the wine to begin to bubble. Allow about 10-12 minutes for the clams to steam.

Until we cook again,
____________________

Contact Chef Bill Thompson, the owner of the Amelia Island Culinary Academy in Fernandina Beach, at cheffedup@folioweekly.com; send him your recipes or ask him culinary questions, to find inspiration and get you Cheffed Up!

Folio is your guide to entertainment and culture around and near Jacksonville, Florida. We cover events, concerts, restaurants, theatre, sports, art, happenings, and all things about living and visiting Jax. Folio serves more than two million readers across Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, including St. Augustine, The Beaches, and Fernandina.

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