The hotline says the next best alternative for thawing a frozen bird, especially the night before the big day, is to immerse said bird, breast side down, in cold water for a length of time determined by bird weight. An 8- to 12-pound bird takes four to six hours using the cold water method. Water needs changing every 30 minutes. A turkey iceberg chills the liquid. Geothermally speaking, changing water every 30 minutes speeds thawing.
Brining is the way to go with poultry, according to culinary intelligentsia. Williams Sonoma offers brining accoutrement, but you can make your own brine by bringing a gallon of water and one cup of kosher salt to a boil. Add herbs of choice and allow mixture to cool. Add an additional gallon of liquid to the cooled mixture; water, apple juice or broth are good choices.
It is best to brine the bird for 24 hours. Brining results in a more succulent bird. Make sure your brining container will go in the refrigerator, as big bird must be kept chilled while brining. Remove the turkey flesh mass from the brining liquid and pat bird dry before baking.
If all of this is too much, especially the thawing part, Winn-Dixie in Golden Springs may have limited numbers of fresh turkeys.
If all else fails, there is always ham – thus allowing more time to concentrate on libations. But remember that our two main wine stores, Tyson Fine Wines and Things in Golden Springs and The Wine Cellar on Quintard – stay open only until 6 tonight.
To survive Thanksgiving trauma, I suggest starting Thanksgiving morning off with an inexpensive sparkling wine like Jacques Pelvas Brut Rose, a tasty, pleasant French sparkling wine for $10 at Tyson’s. This is especially important if you have been up all night changing turkey-thawing water.
Put turkey on to roast. If serving ham, sit back and have another glass of sparkling wine, but save some for guests.
Offer an array of both red and white wines for hors d’oeuvres and the entree. Since most Thanksgiving meals are flavor explosions involving an array of preparations and ingredients, go for subtlety in wine.
Moscato, riesling and Oregon pinot gris are good white wine choices. Why Oregon pinot gris? Oregon pinot gris tend to have a nice balance of residual sugar to acidity and does not possess the dryness of some Italian versions made from this varietal.
For a moscato, select Beringer, currently $5 at Golden Springs Winn-Dixie, or Dulcis, an Italian moscato in the $10 range at both The Wine Cellar and Tyson’s.
For riesling, a good choice is Hyatt from Washington State, in the $10 range at both Tyson’s and the Wine Cellar.
King Estate Oregon Pinot Gris is a personal favorite, in the $18 range at both Tyson’s and Winn-Dixie.
All the above recommended whites have slight sweetness, making them ideal for pairing with sweet potatoes, baked apples and even cornbread dressing.
In the red category, select a pinot noir from California’s cool coastal vineyards, like La Crema, $22.99 at the Wine Cellar, or the reliable Kendall Jackson 2010 Vintners Reserve, $19.99 at Winn-Dixie. Why California and why pinot noir? California pinots are fruity and subtle, thus making them companionable for an array of food.
Finish the meal with a small glass of tawny Port, like Taylor’s Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny for $31.50 at Tyson’s. Tawny works best with pecan pie, apple and custard pies.
Graham’s “Six Grapes” Porto, $25.50 at Tyson’s, a ruby Port, works well with chocolate desserts.
Email Pat Kettles at email@example.com