The goodness of turkey, much like the story of the Pilgrims, is a lie. It's not flavorful or juicy. At all. It's parched like my mouth during a post-Thanksgiving hangover, made more dry by hours of silence thanks to an argument with my fiance over the "good" ginger ale that my friends and I used without permission to make mules. (Don't touch her Hansen's!) Anyhow, turkey ain't nothin' but the bland carcass of a big ol' dumb lookin' bird that, thanks to tradition and nothing more, has provided years of mediocre Thanksgiving meals.
This month, I spent hours on the internet looking for an alternative to the bird I no longer speak of. Hey, being underemployed has its benefits. At first I wanted to buy a big ass goose. With all that breast and donk it just looks good. But they were over $100 from a kind-of-local farmer who sold 'em online, well out of my price range. Plus I'd feel funny buying food from a farmer with an internet connection. Kind of makes me think he doesn't even wear overalls.
My next choice was pigeon, of which, according to my new found expertise, there are over 300 types. Some more edible than others. Even a dove is a pigeon, though they rank higher on the avialae social scale because of their melanin deficiency. But I couldn't shake its street scavenger image. I thought back to a long ago solo trip to Detroit. I was sitting downtown bored, mainly because the city was a lot like my hometown of Cleveland. A lonely pigeon was nice enough to keep me company so I offered him a bit of my sandwich. Within seconds, all of his hoodrat friends rushed over. Some with mangled feet and deformed beaks. Nah, man.
I ended going with duck. It was bit on the pricey side, about $30 at Whole Foods for an organic one the size of a newborn baby. I charged it so by the time I pay it off it might end up costing double. Plus I went over to Walmart and bought a bottle of POM juice. It cost like $10, which is what they pay an employee to leave their family and work Thanksgiving evening. The POM juice would be used to make a baste that was supposed to moisten and sweeten the duck.
And it worked. The duck meat was mad juicy. Its wings were long, with crispy pork rind-like tips. The duck's skin had a sweet, chewy lining of fat underneath that should be a delicacy. The meat was rich, complementing but not overpowering my side dishes: collard greens and beef bacon, red onions, mushrooms, yams, and of course the mules made with fancy ginger ale.
Recipe: Go to the Whole Foods in your local gentrified (or gay) neighborhood and buy an organic whole duck. Bring it to room temperature. Season it with salt and whatever else you desire. Poke him all over, no Amaechi, so it can absorb the baste (sugar and POM juice on medium heat for about 30 minutes). Roast for about 20 minutes at 450 degrees. Remove from oven, reduce temperature to 350. Cook for another 75 minutes or so, basting whenever you need to grab another beer from the kitchen, which was about every 10 minutes for me.