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Features

Here’s How A Champion BBQ Pitmaster Would Tackle Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is days away and our bellies are primed and ready to be filled with as much turkey and side dishes as they can handle this Thursday.

While many of us celebrate Thanksgiving in different ways, have you ever wondered what a seasoned BBQ pitmaster would do for the holiday dinner?

We spoke to Smithfield pitmaster BBQ luminary Tuffy “The Professor” Stone to see how he would tackle the much-anticipated holiday dinner. The esteemed champion pitmaster has 41 grand championships and 5 world championships under his belt, so we already know he can turn proteins into something unforgettable.

The most important thing he stressed, when cooking a Thanksgiving meal for your loved ones, is to plan ahead. Create a menu that you know you can handle, and prepare as much of it as you can in the days before Thanksgiving. That way, all you will have to do is throw your dishes in the oven come dinner time and focus on the turkey and family.

Once you have your menu prepped and planned, here are some additional mouthwatering details we learned from the world champion BBQ expert.

On properly slicing a turkey…

I cook the turkey so it’s about 165 degrees and let it rest for 20 minutes. Then, I’m going to take my knife and cut the thigh and the leg and separate them at the joints. I take the two drumsticks and put them onto the platter. I take the thigh meat, I’ll let it rest a little bit more and then I’ll cut the meat from the bone, trying to keep skin on each piece.

Then, I’ll take my chef’s knife and, on one side of the breastbone, I’ll slice downward and carve that breast meat off of each side. Once I have the two breasts removed from the turkey, I’ll slice them across the grain leaving skin on each slice of the breast. Then, just fan out the breast meat positioning your turkey meat in a way that looks like the whole bird is on the platter.

While Tuffy admits he’s never deep-fried a turkey before, he did have some advice on the practice to keep from burning the house down.

First you have to set up the fryer in a safe and level area, keeping children and pets away at all times. Be sure to use oven mitts and have a fire extinguisher nearby. Make sure there is no ice inside the cavity of the turkey. Use a fryer thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature of the oil. You should have about 4-5 gallons of peanut or canola oil in a 30-quart pot.

Once the oil is hot and ready, cook the turkey at 350F for 3-5 minutes per pound. You can brine the turkey overnight to infuse flavor. Cook the turkey until it’s at 144-155F in the thickest part of the thigh. Once it’s removed from heat, it will still continue to cook to about 165F.

Mustard & Rosemary Crusted Pork Shoulder | RECIPE

Tackling mashed potatoes…

I am a sucker for garlic mashed potatoes with butter, sour cream, and chives with lots of gravy. You can peel the potatoes the day before and keep them refrigerated in a pot of water. Drain before cooking and re-cover with water. The gravy can be made in advance with chicken stock, if you want to get ahead.

So what was Thanksgiving like for Stone and his family?

Stone recalls family dinners in Virginia at his grandmother’s house.

My grandmother would have two bullet smokers going and she would have a couple of turkeys, or a ham, and inside she would be roasting a turkey as well. He recalls having about 20-30 people at these family events — plenty of mouths to fill with turkey.

Now, the family function has been moved to his aunt’s house. While everything is still about the same, everybody is bringing their own side dishes to the family event.

Finally, Stone shares essential tips that every beginner level BBQ’er needs to know before firing up the smoker.

Treat smoke like salt and pepper, and do not over smoke your meat. The flavor of the meat should be the star and the smoke and seasoning should be supporting complimentary flavors.

Cook the meat until it is tender. No one likes tough barbecue, so cook it until it’s done. This can take time.

If your meat isn’t tender enough, but has cooked long enough to have a beautiful exterior color and enough smoke flare, wrap the meat in aluminum foil and return to the cooker – then continue to cook until tender.

You can find Tuffy’s new book, Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecue, available at participating bookstores nationwide in May of next year. Who knows, this might make a great Christmas gift for the BBQ-lover in your life.

Categories
Culture Video

This Animated Short About Father & Daughter Cheesemakers Will Tug At Your Heartstrings

Slow acoustic covers of popular, upbeat songs somehow always make our hearts swell. Just as most dairy products do the same for our stomachs… but I digress.

A recent short film created by Dairy Farmers of Canada, titled Mia & Morton, tells the story of a father and daughter duo of cheesemakers.

Set to the tune of Rose Cousins’ acoustic piano cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop,” the short captures the spirit of a Pixar film without actually being Pixar. Without any dialogue, it highlights the father-daughter relationship and how Mia strives to become a cheesemaker like her father, though at the same time wanting to forge her own path.

We won’t spoil the rest for you, but if you have a few minutes during your day, we highly recommend you check out the heartwarming short film.

It’s pretty damn beautiful.

Categories
Culture Features Humor

14 Thanksgiving Dinner Stories That Are Horrifying, Hilarious, And Heartbreaking

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As Thanksgiving dinner approaches, we can’t help but think about all the X factors that come with distant relatives and volatile family members all gathering in one place. To put it simply, it can sometimes be a recipe for disaster. Other times, however, it could be a huge blessing spending an evening and a great meal with the ones you love.

We took to Reddit to see what were some of the best, worst, and most hilarious Thanksgiving stories the Internet had to offer. As with everything else on Reddit, just make sure to take all the stories with a grain of salt.

Sit back with some mash potatoes and enjoy.

Try not to cry

I once put a turkey in the oven, frozen solid. I was so proud because I had cooked Thanksgiving dinner for the first time ever, I invited everyone I knew over. I pulled the turkey out four hours later, looked at it, they looked at it, then they all laughed at me.

I tried not to cry, then cried a lot.

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It’s got a happy ending though

Mom has cancer. Thanksgiving is had in the tiny-ass apartment she had to rent because her oncologist decided to treat her in a different city. Cooking is out, because said tiny-ass apartment did not have a competent oven. We get the meal to go. It is total shit.

The turkey was advertised as a real fucking bird. We got sliced, pressed shit. And everything was ice cold because the cafeteria we ordered from set up their to go table right under the air vent. Mom couldn’t eat, sister was cranky because she was stressed as fuck trying to go through college and take care of her mother. Dad was cranky because he was worried sick and because reasons that are too icky for me to dwell on any further. I was the only one that was not in a bad state (partially because I believed her oncologist when he said she was going to be fine, and partially because I handle stress like a boss) and was trying my hardest to keep everyone happy. My dad and sister kept snapping at me for my efforts.

It really sucks to get yelled at for being cheerful. At least my Mom seemed to appreciate them. The day just all around sucked.

To make matters worse, the girl I was crushing on hard kept trying to call me all day because she got abandoned at Thanksgiving, but I forgot my phone at my apartment, and was too preoccupied with trying to do what I could to keep smiles on peoples faces to even notice the phone was gone. She didn’t talk to me for a year after that.

But this story had a happy ending, because my Mom made it, so I guess I can’t bitch too hard.

Monkey see, monkey do

This is a sad one: but a week before my dad threw a plate of food against the the wall because my mom burned dinner. Well in the middle of Thanksgiving in front of a ton of people, I throw my plate and it shatters with food everywhere.

I was a young child. Monkey see monkey do.

I went off script

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My mom was VERY uptight, and she is a very no nonsense kind of woman. Her parents were over and she was at the top of her game to impress. When we were going around the table saying what we were thankful for, she had preprepared answers for us, I shit you not.

I went off script and said I was thankful for Goku and my N64. I think she is still pissed over that. Like with all Reddit stories, be sure to take them with a grain of salt.

Jail Bird and Moon Pie

It was the Thanksgiving that my aunt (henceforth referred to as Jail Bird) just got out of jail for serious criminal offenses involving gun trafficking. Her and my other aunt Moon Pie (her favorite snack, also fitting because she is round like one too), got into an argument over who bought my sister a gift which she had had since she was four years old.

Jail Bird was only 14 when the gift was given to my sister making it impossible that it was her, and so after my grandma said enough is enough they moped around for a few hours, but peace was made… Or so we all believed.

So, dinner arrives. It’s going well, until Moon Pie thought it’d be a good idea for her to carve the turkey- which my grandma seeing no issue with that idea let her. Jail Bird was stabbed in the leg with the carving fork, and that’s when all hell broke loose. My sister and I were told to go to our room (we were staying there for Thanksgiving weekend, so we occupied the guest bedroom). We left heard some screaming and some glass breaking, and when me and my sister came out to see what was happening… Well, it turned into an all out brawl.

My parents and the other aunts trying to keep JB and MP away from each other- and not having much success. Grandma was just sitting there drinking her boxed wine, and smoking like nothing was happening while everything was happening.

Any who, long story short, I called the cops and Jail Bird and Moon Pie now have both spent some time jail, and on Thanksgiving too!

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Study hard, kids

This one time my friend was going to announce his engagement to his fiancee at the dinner table in front of his whole family and friends.

Meanwhile he was failing math and our other friend brought his then girlfriend who was the math teacher to dinner, and our other drunk friend ended up admitting that my friend was failing math and he never got the chance to say he was engaged. And his Dad grounded him. Hilarious!

F*ck cooking, do it yourselves

My mom used to cook the MASSIVE traditional Thanksgiving feast. My family was really well off, we had a huge house, and probably 20-30 friends and family would come and our house would be converted into a hotel.

Eventually, my parents got divorced, the economy tanked, we kept downsizing houses and pretty soon it was just my mom, brother and I in a pretty small house. She still made dinner, but maybe just a friend or even just us would be there.

One year, she was sick of it. Sick of cooking all day for one meal for just us, tired of working and things not getting better, and just all of life’s hardships. So on Thanksgiving, four or so years ago, she plopped a plate of raw meat on the table and a fondue pot filled with oil and said “fuck cooking, do it yourselves.”

So we all sat around and dipped chicken and beef, and scallops for me (vegetarian) and had another pot with cheese and small diced bread. We were tired so we just turned on the TV and there was a South Park marathon and the first episode was starring GOOBBBBLLLEESSSS!!!! Anyways we watched that and a few other, and had a pretty good time.

Every year now we just do the same fondue thing, no big lavish meals, just some meat with a little sauce. And we always start the night with the Thanksgiving special with Gobbles and then watch a bunch of other episodes.

Best family holiday ever.

Meet the family

I have a large family with an immense amount of borderline personality disorders. The worst instance was my aunt A was going through a divorce and uncle B had been holding some of her belongings in storage while she got things settled.

Well uncle B got drunk and told aunt A that his new wife had sold a lot of her belongings because she wasn’t paying for storage at their house.

Well my mother got involved and tried yelling at the uncle B and that’s when aunt C & uncle D got involved and started a completely different argument and meanwhile aunt A was chasing around uncle B with a knife and my cousin called the police.

It was a full-out brawl by the time they got there and aunt A was taken away to a psych ward as she was sitting her car with the knife threatening to kill herself. This was the first Thanksgiving I had brought my boyfriend (now husband) home with me.

Three seconds

My grandmother ran out of counter space, shit was sorta burning like crazy on top of the stove. She took out the turkey on the tray, looked around, and put it on the ground for like three seconds. She intended for it to be there for three fucking seconds.

Her dog, Rosco, had been following her all day. Earlier she tossed him a turkey gibblet, and I guess that didn’t sit well with him.

He shit all over my grandma’s leg, floor, and freshly-cooked Turkey in one explosive two-second blast of fiery diarrhea.

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SO drunk

Last year my dad got blind drunk. Like the drunkest I have ever seen him. He kicked me and my girlfriend out of the house very loudly, and when we where packing up he came asked why we where leaving and demanded we stay. After another five minutes he came back and kicked us out again. We went to my moms house who was so drunk, we couldn’t wake here up.

We ended up playing Borderlands all night.

Up in flames

My Dad and uncle tried frying a turkey, very drunkenly. They forgot about. The oil went went up in flames and so did the side of my uncle’s house.

I conceded defeat

My female cousin and I like to have burping contests. One year, after eating Thanksgiving dinner, we started our competition. Swallow air, force a burp, swallow air, force a burp. Belches kept escalating until the point where she ends up vomiting all over the table.

I conceded defeat as I didn’t feel like trying to top that. A decade or so later, she’s still the champion.

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Not a bad way to go

I went with to a boyfriend’s house and spent the morning with his family, brothers and sisters and their SOs from far away. His grandmother was there, sitting quietly in a recliner and not saying much. After a couple hours dinner was ready so we all went into the dining room except his Grandma. Someone went back to help her, thinking she had trouble getting out of her chair, and discovered that she had died sometime while we were all sitting around talking and laughing. Someone called an ambulance and the boyfriend’s parents went with the body while the rest of us had a very odd and awkward dinner.

On the plus side, I like to think that she died happy. She was surrounded by family and although she didn’t say much she smiled at our jokes. It’s really not a bad way to go when you think of it, it was just really really strange for the rest of us.

The egg nog was bad

My wife’s brother is a pretty heavy drinker. He’s the type of dude who almost always has a beer in his hand after 5 o’clock. He’s not a bad guy, but he definitely drinks too much… though since this story he’s become a father and slowed way down on the drinking.

His mother, father and younger brother don’t cook, so brother-in-law (let’s call him Dan) offers to make Thanksgiving dinner. He’s going to have turkey, pie, potatoes, stuffing, the whole nine yards. So it’s the four of them and my wife and I.

We get there and Dan has mixed up some egg nog. It’s in a big plastic pitcher and roughly a quarter of it is rum. Wife doesn’t drink, younger brother in law (Jim) doesn’t drink and I’m lactose intolerant. The dad has one small cup and says it tastes awful because its’ so heavy on alcohol.

Slowly by surely, as Dan is working in the kitchen the egg nog begins to disappear. He starts out really nice, glad to have a good turnout for Thanksgiving. He seems to have a pleasant buzz on at this point. As the morning continues though, he gets more and more agitated. We’re watching football and he wants help peeling potatoes, so we oblige while watching the game. Then as dinner continues he wants the wife to make the stuffing (it’s stove top, not my choice). She says she will, but she’s in the middle of something. Dan starts yelling about how she doesn’t appreciate what he’s doing and how ungrateful she is. It’s pretty uncomfortable, but they shout back and forth. Situation settles down and dinner will be ready in about 45 minutes to an hour. Dan says his “stomach is upset” so he goes home (next door) to lay down.

Once the timer goes off we take out dinner and set the table. Dan’s nowhere to be found. As today’s chef it seems rude to eat without him, but we don’t want everything to get cold. We must have waited at least a half an hour for him to come back… but he didn’t. Dad goes to check on him and he’s pretty much passed out. We eat without him.

Hours later he comes back while we’re watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles and says “Urgh, I think that egg nog was bad.”

Sure Dan, the egg nog was bad.

Stories have been edited for spelling and flow.

Categories
Adventures Features Hit-Or-Miss

The Huge Crawfish Boil That Became So Much More Than Just A Dinner

Memorial Day Weekend is one of the best weekends in America for a multitude of reasons. For one, it’s a day set aside to honor the men and women who have laid down their lives for this country, which is awesome. Secondly, it’s a holiday that virtually marks the beginning of summer, and that’s equally just as awesome. Finally, Memorial Day is a day typically spent cooking up some of the most delicious foods people can come up with, from the simplicity of dogs and burgs to the rare delicacy of shark fin.

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(left) Alligator being fried for the masses. (right) Setup for the boil begins.

One of my closest friends (we’ll call him “Jim”) invited me to his family’s lakehouse for Memorial Day Weekend. His wife was out of town, so he needed an attractive individual to take her place. It makes sense that I was chosen.

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The lake, which was manmade roughly 30 years ago, is a small, quiet lake that places an emphasis on privacy. It’s a veritable oasis, so it comes as no surprise that the founders of this summer goldmine see it as a well-kept secret. The lake itself is an elongated oval shape, perfect for the water sports that all the residents of the Ski West Village community enjoy. It’s also home to the biggest friggin’ crawfish boil my sheltered eyes have ever seen.

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We pull up to the lakehouse Friday night and Jim’s brother “Jay” greets us with a variety of beers. Getting drunk at the lake is a quintessential part of the entire experience, so I drink– not by choice, but rather to immerse myself into the culture, and to blend in amongst these seasoned lake veterans well enough to– ok, it was by choice. I want to get hammered, sue me. As we drink, Jim regales me with tales of the famous crawfish boil. He tells me about the variety of people that are going, and how the couple hosting the boil were born and raised in Louisiana. He finishes by telling me the hundreds of pounds of crawfish that are brought in are frozen for the trip (from Louisiana) then thawed when they arrive, bringing them back to life in a way that would make Captain America proud. My excitement, along with my bladder, is now bursting at the seams.

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After a long and fulfilling day of swimming and drinking, the crew and I begin walking over to the crawfish boil sometime around 6 pm. A soft breeze gently guides the pungent smell of garlic and spices through the crowds of people beginning to gather. The sound of alligator meat being fried whispers an intoxicating crackling, drowned out by “oohs” and “aahs” from young onlookers baffled at the thought of eating alligator. People begin shuffling in around the tables, preparing for the feast…that’s when several men come out holding the coolers filled with crawfish, the pallbearers for a crustaceous funeral.

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The deliverers of deliciousness begin dumping the coolers onto the table.  The slightly different shades of red throughout the mounds of shellfish give off a crimson glow in the setting sunlight the likes I’ve never seen before. The mountains of food mostly consist of crawfish, but that’s certainly not all. The boil also included (as is tradition) large chunks of corn, sausages cut in half, garlic cloves, mushrooms, onions and small red potatoes you could pop into your mouth like a Mentos.

Once that’s done, it’s no holds barred. Old people, children, and everyone in between start bustling around looking for the best spot on the table.

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As I pluck the shells off of my victims and throw the tiny portions of meat into my mouth like a ping pong ball into a cauldron, I become crushed under the weight of an intense “ah ha” epiphany, and the crawfish boil suddenly makes perfect sense to me. I look over to where Jim is and see him shaking hands with a family friend, reveling in their wakeboarding discussion. I see a young boy giving this whole “flirting” thing a try with a female friend while his buddies hide behind a few chairs, pointing and snickering. I see a mother holding her baby with one hand and digging into the sausage with the other while her husband rips a crawfish apart with his fingers. Then, without uttering a single word or taking their eyes off the prize, mom hands the baby off to dad and he takes it in stride, as if it were a running play up the middle.img_2511_720

I scan my surroundings and see all these things happening. At that moment, I realize that the crawfish boil isn’t just dinner. It isn’t just a community meal. It’s a catalyst. It’s a jumping-off point for a storied life. It’s the “Your mother and I met when…” story for that young boy. It’s the “We’ve been friends since…” tale that Jim will tell his own kids one day. It’s the “First thing I remember as a baby…” story that the football handoff child will tell in high school. For this community, the crawfish boil isn’t just their dinner. It’s their history.

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Things like the boil are what keep us together. It’s what helps us forget about the troubles of today and the stresses of tomorrow, and the thought of having to vote for one of those three morons running for President. Find your “crawfish boil,” whatever that may be, and your own story will surely follow.

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss News

Food Truck Driver Kills And Cooks The Family Dog, Blames The Devil

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I really, really hate some people.

A man named Patrick Zane Thompson, 42, the owner and operator of his family’s barbecue food truck, was recently arrested at his home state of Arizona for sacrificing his family’s dog. Yeah, let that shit sink in for a minute.

According to the CBS News, Thompson saw his daughter wearing a t-shirt that he believed was associated with the Devil. His reaction was the standard, “Give me your shirt so I can throw it in the smoker and burn it to ashes” that one would receive from their father, although Thompson took it a step father.

After destroying the shirt, Thompson ran back into the house and reportedly told his family that he now had to sacrifice a male in order to atone for his daughter’s mistake. Thompson named himself, his 6-year-old son and their family dog as the acceptable candidates, but apparently had no intentions of killing himself or his son.

The family, obviously struck by fear, ran out of the house as quickly as possible, including Thompson’s 21-year-old wife and their four minors. Unfortunately, the dog was not able to escape and was captured by Thompson.

The family begged Thompson not to hurt the dog, at which point he broke the poor animal’s neck then suffocated it before putting it into the smoker. The police found the dog’s body still in the smoker when they arrived on the scene, along with Thompson praying on the sidewalk out front. When asked why he did it by the police, he responded by saying, “The devil made me do it.”

Thompson was jailed for suspicion of animal cruelty, assault, threats against his family and evidence tampering. His bail was set at $20,000, although prosecutors are looking to set it at $100,000 or more since he admitted to considering using his son as the sacrifice.

 

 

Photo Credit: CBS News

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

An Intimate Look At 100 Years Of Family Dinners [WATCH]

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Family dinners are a sacred event. There’s nothing like coming home after a long day of work and sitting down with your family to enjoy a meal made with love. No matter what century we’re from, a good home-cooked meal can be the highlight of our day.

Mode created this beautiful video that follows 100 years of family dinners. From meat and potatoes to quinoa and grilled salmon, the short film takes us on a visual journey of dining with the family.

Each decade features a signature dish that was popular at the time. Check out the video below.

Just a heads up, this is not for watching on an empty stomach.

Categories
Features

20 Waiters Reveal the Worst Thing Their Customers Have Ever Done

Something about the whole served/server relationship turns plenty of people into mindless, heartless pricks. From changing diapers at the dinner table to hiding tips in drinking straws, here’s some of the worst things waiters have seen their customers do, according to the fine folks at AskReddit.