This is a tale of a meat smoker or two. Family times preparing the Thanksgiving or Xmas meal – yes in Texas and elsewhere we smoke the turkey not roast it in an oven. The real treat is not the flavor but the memories. This is from “Days Remembered”.
On many a Thanksgiving and Christmas, my dad would fire up his smoker and cook a turkey and a ham in it. He would build the fire near bedtime, let it burn down, and then put the meat on and let it cook all night until it was done. When we woke up in the morning, we would test the meat for doneness, and when ready, take it off of the fire and carve it up. We savored the freshly roasted meat and the cracklings as delicacies. It certainly was good food, and so I kept doing the same thing as do other members of the family.
But the part of that experience I liked the best, especially as an adult, was not just eating the meat, but standing by the smoker in the dark and the cold and having a drink with my dad and shooting the breeze. We would have a beer or a Jack Daniels, and the smoke wafted around us while the cold wind blew, too. Maybe the moon was out, or maybe it was just a dark, starry night; but it was a special time we had on those holidays at my mom and dad’s that always meant a lot to me. So when we married, I wanted to show your son the same thing since he had no dad to show him such things, and I wanted him to have the same warm memories of holiday times as I did.
And I did just what my dad did. I got out the charcoal, soaked the mesquite chips, and set the thing ablaze, showing him how I did it. I also told him how much fun I had with my dad, smoking a turkey when he was alive. So, we got the fire burning and had some drinks in the dark like me and my dad had on the last Thanksgiving we were together.
In comparison to showing your son how to smoke meat, hearing how you could not roast a turkey was funny indeed. You and he both recounted how you simply stuck a frozen bird in the oven one Thanksgiving and were given back a half-cooked, inedible bird. Thus, when you and your kids had smoked turkey and ham, you were indeed having something new and delicious.
However, moving beyond how to smoke meat and how not to roast a turkey, the times spent by a fire are special times between a father and son. It really isn’t a motherly thing to stand by a fire and drink booze, you know. I always will remember the times spent in the swirling mesquite smoke with my dad. These simple events built solid memories of growing up and being together.
And most of all, I hope your son learned something from my instruction on how to smoke a big bird; and one year hence, he shows his son, or maybe a daughter, the same thing under a cold, starry sky. And may his turkey and ham be well done and enjoyed by all on that holiday yet to come.