Thursday, October 8, 2009

Getting my ducks in a row for Thanksgiving

We love Thanksgiving and we're already planning for the holiday, the first time in several years that we're going to roast a whole bird. But we won't be having one of those industrial broad-breasted turkeys, bred to have acres of white meat. (See earlier post, "What do people see in white meat?")

We usually go to the Goffle Road Poultry Farm in Wyckoff a week before the holiday and pick up turkey drum sticks, thighs and wings, plus a bottle of Uncle Dougie's spicy, Chicago-style wing marinade. The turkeys, ducks, quail, geese, and chickens and capons (both up to 8 pounds) are raised on a vegetarian diet without antibiotics. I also like the fresh duck eggs sold there.

This year, we plan to buy a heritage turkey, which was developed in the United States and Europe over hundreds of years. The Narragansett variety sold in Wyckoff will be going for $5.95 a pound (live weight) and the bird we get will weigh 8-10 pounds after gutting and cleaning. Compared to the ungainly, tasteless, broad-breasted white turkey, the Narragansett is an athlete with flavorful meat.

This week, I received a roasting pan large enough to accommodate a 25-pounder. I ordered the rectangular  Graniteware black-and-white enameled roaster and cover from

I plan to roast the turkey with spaghetti, Syrian-style. The bird will be seasoned with salt, allspice, cinnamon and Aleppo pepper and baked in the oven, covered, for about 45 minutes. Then I'll remove the turkey and mix the spaghetti, boiled separately, with bottled sauce and the turkey juices (fat), and season it with allspice and cinnamon. The pan then goes back into the oven, uncovered, until the turkey is done and the pasta has a little crust on top.

I'll probably serve it with a big salad, mixed vegetables, baked or mashed sweet potatoes and a nice red wine, such as malbec from Argentina or pinot noir from California.

Here is the link to the poultry farm's Web site:


  1. How long will you cook the turkey in total? 45 minutes initially and then how long with the pasta? What type of pasta would you use?

    I always prefered my mothers method of using a red sauce with turkey (turkey fat, tomato paste and water) to the American styles turkey gravy.

  2. I'm not sure. I've only done chickens before, nothing as big as a turkey. I would think an hour to two hours more. I use a meat thermometer to test doneness (170 degrees for poultry with no antibiotics). The initial cooking with the cover on seems to accelerate things, so maybe leave it in for an hour with the cover on. If there is not enough fat, I add chicken broth with the pasta sauce.

  3. I forgot your other question. I have used thick spaghetti, but another type would do as well, like fettucini. Even big rigatoni or penne.

  4. OK, I think I am going to try your mother's pasta recipe, but with a chicken first. When I grew up we had "Syrian Pasta" weekly, tomato paste dilluted with water with ground meat inside and thick spaghetti.

  5. You are right. My mother's original recipe calls for tomato sauce added to the fat, but my wife prefers pasta sauce. I could go either way. The flavor of the fat makes the dish.


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