01 December 2011

MY FIRST SINGAPOREAN THANKSGIVING


I arrived back in Singapore just in time to throw my bags onto the floor, grab my shopping list and head into town. I needed fresh herbs and vegetables, various breads, a couple d├ęcor items and, of course, the turkey and the Thanksgiving tenderloin. Yes, beef tenderloin.

About a year and a half ago my husband decided that he hated the thought of eating turkey for Thanksgiving. “Turkey sucks!” he exclaimed one afternoon. You see, the way Paul was raised – spoiled by his Papou – beef tenderloin was served for Christmas and lamb was served at Easter.

After 20 something years of having turkey for Thanksgiving, it suddenly dawned on Paul that this fowl was much below the red meat standard set by the other major holidays. “That’s it. I am renouncing turkey. I hate turkey.”

Paul does not actually hate turkey – he just despises the idea of a holiday revolving around a turkey. So he decided he had had enough.

He devised a plan to purchase a beef tenderloin for the forthcoming Thanksgiving holiday and bring the tenderloin to his family’s traditional Thanksgiving dinner. In order to partake in the tenderloin free of charge, one must renounce turkey forever. Anyone who refused to renounce turkey could still have a slice of beef for a hefty fee. I believe it was something like $20.

His plan was foiled, however, when he was scheduled to work on Thanksgiving. Apparently the airlines needed pilots to fly the planes on Turkey Day. I was sworn to secrecy (which, I suppose I am now defying) that year so that I would not ruin the surprise.

This year we were in Singapore for Thanksgiving and I oh-so-cheerfully-and-without-the-consent-of-my-husband offered to host Thanksgiving for a few of our American friends living in Singapore. While at the butcher picking up my pre-ordered American Butterball turkey without the head and the feet, I decided to surprise Paul with a tenderloin. He was thrilled when he came home and discovered the addition to our menu.

While I prepped the appetizers, potatoes, stuffing (STUFFING IS EVIL!) and roasted vegetables, Paul took on the task of prepping the turkey. Yes, you read correctly. Paul prepared the turkey that he previously renounced.

For those who may not be aware, Alton Brown is the best chef that has ever lived and there is no disputing that fact. This is Paul’s mantra. If I ever want to cook or bake or roast or fry anything, I must consult Alton Brown’s recipes before moving forward. Period.

Just as when we were dating, the world stops at 7 p.m. so that Paul can tune into Alton’s show, Good Eats. If I am home, I am forced to stop whatever I am doing and pay attention. There is always a quiz to see if I am listening.

Wednesday evening, Paul prepared the brine according to the great Alton’s recipe and even stayed up late to ensure that the salty and sweet liquid mixture cooled before placing the pot in the fridge to cool overnight. In the morning, he prepped the turkey, removing all of the innards, and placed the turkey in the brine.

And he rearranged my fridge for me. How nice.


He set his alarm to flip the bird at the exact moment it needed to be flipped and he arranged an apparatus to ensure the bird stayed submerged.

He cleaned the bird, stuffed the bird – but not with stuffing because STUFFING IS EVIL!

OK time out. I was forced to watch no less than twice each two Alton Brown Thanksgiving episodes from which I learned that putting stuffing inside a bird to cook is neither sanitary nor healthy. Yes, grandmothers have been doing this for years but what do they know?

While I had never planned to place the bread mixture inside the bird, I obliged and continued to watch for Paul’s amusement.

In one of Paul’s favorite scenes, Alton presents a painting – William Blake’s “Satan throws the plagues over Job,” pictured below.

image: Satan throws the plague over Job by William Blake
Picture taken from www.wooop.com

According to Alton’s research, he derived from Blake’s writings that the plagues being poured out over Job were, in fact, stuffing. “Stuffing,” Alton says in a presentation to Google employees.

“STUFFING was being poured out by Satan onto Job and, uh, so it easy to work out this model, which is:

   Satan is evil.
   Satan likes stuffing.
   Stuffing is evil.”

So, any time stuffing was mentioned in the Thanksgiving prep process, Paul would, of course, yell out, “STUFFING IS EVIL!”

OK, back to the turkey.

Paul let the turkey soak in the brine for about six hours before roasting. He cleaned the bird and we both dressed it with butter and seasonings before placing the 6 kg bird into the oven. Two and a half hours later, the beautiful turkey was resting. The bird had a brown, crusty skin and the meat was so tender. The seasoning was great. This was one Alton Brown recipe we will repeat several times.



The tenderloin was cooked to perfection as well.



Three couples joined us in our tiny home. They came equipped with wine, bread and dessert to complete our holiday meal. 






We had a great spread and we all filled our bellies until we could simply not eat anymore. Though we could not be in America to celebrate with our family, it was certainly a treat to have our American friends in Singapore celebrate with us – even if they did have to work that day. 

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