~You’ve heard it before: never cook with a wine that you won’t drink.
~Like many, I lived by the rule for a long time, but then one day I realized three things: it can get expensive to cook with the wines I consume, rules are broken everyday, and—most important—enjoying wine subjectively has no rules.
~I changed my attitude and began to buy bag-in-the-box wines for cooking in the smoker, and I apologize to no one for it; yet, when I am in the wine shop buying the bag-in-the-box wine I find myself explaining to the cashier that “It’s for cooking only. I don’t drink it.”
~I suppose rules learned by rote don’t die easily.

Here’s how I smoke a turkey:

I marinate the bird in bag-in-the-box wine, chopped garlic and tarragon for at least 24 hours.

The following day I cut little wood chips from the peach, apple, pear, fig prunings that I saved from late spring and then soak the chips in water.

I start up the coals in the smoker and give them half an hour to get hot; then, I take out the turkey, lift it from the marinade, place it on its grill, place the marinade bowl in its position on the rack over the coals, place the turkey on the grill in its position on the rack over the marinade liquid, put the top on the smoker and wait until the thermostat reaches the “Ideal” setting.

When the temperature is ideal, I shake up the coals, throw a few wet wood chips on them (to create the smoke), add a few more coals, cover and let smoke. I repeat this procedure every 45 minutes or so until the turkey is done.

It takes from three to four hours for a 10-12 pound turkey to smoke this way, and it takes half a 3-liter bag-in-the-box for the marinade, which means I get two smoked turkey marinades out of one $9.99 white wine that I would never drink.

~The other day I found myself once more in the wine shop explaining to yet another new cashier that I don’t drink the bag-in-the-box wine; that I cook with it. Then, I went on to explain the turkey recipe.
~The woman listened quietly. She nodded a few times in that way people nod when they want to assure you that they do not think you are nuts, and then she said, “You know, technically you aren’t cooking with the wine.”
~Well, well, I thought on my way home. I haven’t broken any wine rules after all. Aaah, it was like having come out of the confession box (for those whose lives were not formed in the shadow of the Catholic religion, you’ll have to imagine the feeling!).
~Incidentally, my bag-in-the-box wine of choice is—nah, no endorsements on this blog, not unless someone is going to send me ad money…
~The temperature is going to reach 92F in the Finger Lakes this weekend. Time to marinade a turkey so that I can create a few cold smoked turkey lunches.
~Bless me wine god, for I have sinned—maybe.

Copyright, Thomas Pellechia
June, 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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