We were going to be hosting Thanksgiving at our place this year, and believe me when I say that it would have been a Smackdown of epic proportions that would have taken weeks – nay, months – to properly write up.  But then, unbeknownst to us, more people were invited than our apartment can comfortably (or even uncomfortably) hold, and my brain started mis-firing again.  Ergo, we are in North Carolina where there are chefs and chefs-in-training bustling about the kitchen and I don’t have to do anything but take pictures and write and eat.  And eat.  And eat.

And I? Am not complaining.

It’s really hard to make raw turkey look pretty, y’all.

Of course, my sister just announced that she is NOT IRONING THE NAPKINS for the Thanksgiving table, and I’m all like, we drove nine hours for THIS?

Really, none of the images in this post are going to be pretty.

Owing to the preponderance of cheffly types, one of which is my nephew the chef-in-training (who finally got a damn haircut) who is deep within a let’s-experiment-with-anything-and-everything-we-could-conceivably-put-in-our-mouths, there is no normal Thanksgiving turkey this year.  Instead, there are smoked turkey breasts and confit turkey legs.

I’m really sorry about this one in particular.  It’s for documentary purposes only.

It’s not easy to find tubs of duck fat here in the off-season Outer Banks, so the confit happened in a combo of turkey fat skimmed from the turkey stock we’d made earlier in the week and canola oil.  The legs themselves sat overnight in a mixture of salt, bay, thyme, black pepper and homemade preserved lemon before being rinsed, patted dry and submerged in the fat.

Attractive AND Healthy.

I will be the first to say that the turkey legs covered with errant spoonfuls of turkey fat looked like victims of an uncouth chef with some severe seaonal allergies.  But after 6 or 7 hours in a 250 degree oven (with some brief interludes of higher and lower heat when pies needed to be baked; don’t tell) no one gave a shit:  this is some seriously good turkey.  It’s currently sitting in the fridge, awaiting some treatment that I won’t be able to describe until it actually happens because we are CHEFS and RECIPES BE DAMNED.  Or, you know, my brother-in-law and nephew are.

I really just give up with these.

Meanwhile, the breast sat overnight in an apple cider-based brine; it came out this morning and is resting on the counter, air drying, while the smoker gets a-fired up.

And now, it’s time for the best part of Thanksgiving other than stuffing and gravy, a tradition that every family should add to their Thanksgiving plans:  Cocktail hour.  Which usually starts at noon, so we’re running a bit late this year and need to make up for lost time if we’re going to be lightly soused by dinnertime.

Coming up in Part II: Actual edible food!