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Personal Turkey

Remember the sheet cake? The darker times of our recent history found us as drooling jackals eyeing one another’s styrofoam plates as we jockeyed to be the next to gnaw at the kill. The kill being a sheet cake from Costco. We wore our desire for the premium cuts in the toothy facade of a smile that thinly grinned, “get between me and that sugar rosette and I’ll snap your neck.” It was medieval. We were destined to destroy ourselves—our culture relegated to a thin smear of greasy frosting on a golden cake drum. Fortunately, Los Angeles invented the cupcake to save us all. The cupcake: a little cake that is sanitary, individualized, modern, and civil. Everyone gets a rosette. No one has to die. We’ve come so far.

Or have we? Yes, we’ve modernized the cake, but let’s turn our attention to the Thanksgiving turkey. Who thought that surrounding a dead bird with a bunch of starving relatives was a good idea? Limited quantities of light/dark meat, only two drumsticks, one wishbone—all hanging on a carcass to be portioned by the alpha and condescendingly doled to the pack. Portioned and doled in the best case. More traditionally, your uncle and his wife-of-the-month use their table knives to make a mess of the breast while your brother-in-law reaches under your carving knife to peel off half the skin, shuttling it to his plate with an obscene amount of gravy while the kids are screaming about who gets to snap the wishbone this year while the dog sinks his teeth into your leg and then the turkey’s. Jackals. All of you.

But I’m not here to point out problems. I’m here to offer solutions. My solution this year is the personal turkey.

Preparation of the personal turkey dinner is similar to the traditional thanksgiving dinner. Begin by procuring the turkeys. One per person. I recommend urban pygmy turkeys from San Francisco. They’re festive, playful, and—for various medical reasons—have loosely-attached gizzards that make cleaning a breeze.

Three small headless, plucked birds sitting next to one another, posed sultrily; one is sitting spread eagle in a wooden spoon; in the background is a measuring cup, a sprig of parsley, and bottles of oil

Clean and salt the turkeys. Then, make a little of your favorite stuffing.

A tiny white bowl filled with some bread crumbs and parsley, being mixed with a fork; a measuring cup, a bottle of milk, and a pepper grinder are in the background

The stuffing should be individually-portioned. If you’re making giblet stuffing, be sure to track which stuffing goes with which turkey and stuff the stuffing into the appropriate turkey (the appropriate turkey being the turkey that contributed the giblets for that turkey’s portion of stuffing).

Three small headless, plucked birds on a cutting board; a wooden spoon is being used to shove a mound of stuffing into one of the birds

Finish seasoning the turkeys according to your family’s tradition. This might involve salt/pepper, garlic, butter, olive oil, parsley, etc. Simply scale and portion the spices accordingly. Proceed to bake, roast, or deep-fry the turkeys as you typically would. Plate the turkeys along with your traditional Thanksgiving fare, ensuring that no dissimilar food items touch one another (garnish excepting).

A small cooked bird on a plate along with mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, and peas; parsley, a jar of olive oil, a jar of salt, a plate of cookies, and a small white bowl of almonds are in the background

Serve and enjoy the quiet, orderly Thanksgiving dinner made possible by the personal turkey: a little turkey that is sanitary, individualized, modern, and civil. Everyone gets light and dark meat, both drumsticks, a wishbone, and their very own carcass to suck on. No one has to die. We’ve come so far. For this, we give thanks.

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