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Helping Your Wife This Christmas
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Instead of another depressing rant on how the political class is selling us down the river, I’m offering practical advice this week on how to remain in the wife’s good graces and still get to watch all the football you want on Christmas or New Year’s Day.
Many consider lifting your feet so the wife can sweep up dinner crumbs a significant contribution to domestic tranquility, and in lands ruled by Sharia law it is (except no Christmas dinner). But here in the 1st world compromise is required, and it can be accomplished without damaging your self-esteem like doing the dishes or wrapping up the leftovers does.
My manly-man suggestion is to volunteer to smoke the holiday turkey, and by “smoke” I don’t mean shooting the bird. You can outsource that to Butterball.
While the wife is at the grocery store, you go to the hardware store to get an empty 5-gallon paint bucket, ice pick and a vertical ice chest.
Smoking your turkey should be approached systematically, like any other scientific problem involving fire and booze.
A delicious smoked turkey is submerged in brine to infuse it with flavor as the salt kills bacteria if you forgot to wash your hands. There are plenty of Internet brine recipes and YouTube videos are particularly useful for first-time smokers. My preferred brine combines the best of Cracker Barrel and the ABC store = maple syrup and bourbon.
When selecting a recipe beware of fanatics. One YouTube chef concocted a brine that would set you back about $100 dollars just to give the bird a bath. He even soaked the wood chips in premium Maker’s Mark bourbon, which at my house qualifies the chips as a side dish that would never see the fire.
No need to spend a fortune. Maple-flavored syrup of the quality found on the McDonalds’ breakfast menu is fine. And I usually buy “Pappy Went Blind” brand bourbon in the convenient 55-gallon drum. Mix with the rest of the brine ingredients and you’re ready to baptize the bird.
Brining a bird is like buying a burka: Total coverage is crucial. Fill your new orange plastic bucket with brine. Before immersing the bird take care to neutralize that great enemy of flavor, the skin. Perforate the bird with the ice pick as deeply and frequently as possible without losing perspective.
Then lower the turkey into the brine legs first, just like loading a mortar. The tall bucket lets the brine completely cover. Notice how the gobbler floats like a corpse in a horror movie without contacting the side.
Place the bucket in the cooler and surround with ice. Most recipes call for brining the bird 24-hours, but my family believes if a little is good; a whole lot must be really good.
Consequently, I brine for three to five days. Just remember to keep the bucket packed in ice, unless you really don’t like the people you plan to feed.
Before smoking, wash the bird thoroughly. I also inject more bourbon into the breast and legs. Since the bird will never encounter a Breathalyzer, it doesn’t matter how much you use. If you find yourself licking leaking bourbon off the counter it’s time to stop.
The last step is applying a dry “rub,” which you can make or buy pre-made at the store. This is disgusting, because the skin looks as if it came from a corpse, which technically it has, and it’s loose. It’s like giving Bernie Sanders a massage.
I use an electric smoker because the temperature is constant and I don’t have to futz around with charcoal, but if you have annoying relatives you’re trying to avoid, nothing says privacy like “I need to check the fire.”
Cook at 225 degrees about a half hour for every pound and when a meat thermometer placed deep in the thigh area reads 180 the bird is done.
Let your masterpiece rest 45 minutes, carve and then you can take the remainder of the day off without any complaint from the wife.
Michael Shannon is a commentator and public relations consultant, and is the author of “A Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times.” He can be reached at