Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio weighs in on the great turkey brining debate.

on Nov 23, 20120

 

Few meals conjure as much sentiment and emotion as Thanksgiving. Everyone has his or her own memories -- good or bad -- and they are, however subconsciously, linked to the food. So everyone has strong opinions about which food should appear on the table, and about exactly how that food should be prepared.

The chief food under discussion, of course, is The Bird. 

Roast the whole thing? Braise the legs but roast the breast separately? Spatchcock it? Baste? Don’t baste? Only baste at the end? This year, the big, heated (no pun intended) “discussion” in the Twittersphere/Blogosphere was about brining: To Brine Or Not To Brine (sub-“discussion”: if brining, to dry brine or wet brine?). I am decidedly in the “Brining’s not necessary” camp and posted my own recipe, and I can’t tell you how many indignant “But Alton Brown says the turkey must be brined!”messages I received.    

Not knocking Alton, whose knowledge of food and of food science I respect, but, as you saw on the show, my turkey comes out moist and succulent without all that fuss. In this challenge, my team basically did the turkey and stuffing as I do at home. The rest of the team, though, pretty much did whatever they wanted. I honestly had no idea what Carla was making (I couldn’t understand what she was yelling at me that she was doing) -- I’m just glad she did it so well. The team pulled together and put together nice dishes. Everything was beautifully presented and delicious. I initially expected just to advise my team and steer the meal in a particular direction, but when I got to the kitchen and saw Emeril at the stove, I jumped in, too, for a little while. We had a great time joking and cooking. Overall, it was a lot of fun.

7 comments
sloopie72
sloopie72

I'm usually no fan of Thanksgiving (or Christmas) episodes, but I liked this one. Maybe because of the tilt towards Creole and Italian, maybe because each person had a clearly assigned dish, maybe just because I really enjoyed the quickfire (I had fun looking up all the dumplings I didn't know). I'm enjoying this season tremendously - even though I was very disappointed by both

eliminations so far, they made sense based on what I saw in the episode. There's just enough "drama" to keep things interesting, but there's plenty of actual cooking going on, and no stupid Amazing Race crap. Happy viewer here. 

 

I just wish I could figure out what the deal is with Last Chance Kitchen... like, where is it?

 

SecondTry
SecondTry

I'm sorry, Tom, but this episode was a major step backwards after two very strong episodes.

 

First, it always annoys me when Top Chef tries to tie in to air-time holidays and events.  Season Five was the worst--you did a Thanksgiving episode (which was pretty bad in and of itself), then you did a Christmas episode (with the chefs running around New York City--at "Christmas"--in shorts and open-toed shoes), and then two episodes later, you question whether Stefan's chicken soup was a good idea on "such a hot day".  It's too much of a suspension of disbelief, at least for me.But even worse this time was your participation, and Emeril's.  Maybe you simply need to fire the show's editors, but I've watched the episode twice, and it didn't seem like any of the cheftestants were making ANY decisions--every thought, every idea was run by you or Emeril for approval, even something as minute as whether to add bacon to the Brussels sprouts.

 

You said it yourself, Tom, all the way back in Season One when you were ripping Miguel Morales a new one:  the writing on the coats says Top Chef, not Top Sous Chef.  But that's all the cheftestants were in this episode--sous chefs to you and Emeril.  And given that, when Brian Malarkey in Season 3 offered diners a choice of cheese in his elk dish, you, Padma, Gail, and Eric Ripert eliminated him on the grounds that he "wasn't making the decisions a chef makes", how do you turn around and allow this season's cheftestants to coast through an episode not really making any choices of their own, but simply executing Thanksgiving Colicchio or Thanksgiving Lagasse?

 

The show has been in a downward spiral for me for several seasons, Tom, but I had very high hopes for this season based on the first two episodes.  My hopes are still high, but they are not as high as they were, and I'm crossing my fingers that this episode was an aberration and not indicative of what the rest of the season is going to be like.

lkbrose
lkbrose

Has bravo gotten rid of all boards?  I really miss this feature, and now I've lost my aviator.

Now we can't really talk about recipes.  I've never brined a turkey, but I do stuff it with lots of butter and fresh herbs under the skin and baste a lot.  I also cook it breast side down (use  turkey holder, so your breast doesn't stick, but fip it over for about the last 1 hour and turn up the oven to get really brown skin.  I've never have a not moist turkey (and I actually don't mind it dried out) -- but people love my turkey -- and I see to be the only one that knows how to make a gravy from drippings any more (I from BR, LA) -- an my gumbo is never bitter.  Mess the roux up and through it out...

 

Tesar is a jerk.

 

Carla is a jerk.  She doesn't want to be called sweetie and honey,  how 'bout "broad "(i've been a female Engineer in and all male organization since 1986).  Don't talk about make-up, your great looking ass -- you are giving out double standards.  If you don't want to be treated like an object -- don't act like one...

singingscallops
singingscallops

Tesar's remark in episode 2 regarding time and Kuniko's approach to cooking seems especially prescient now.  She strikes me as a deliberate and thoughtful individual.  Someone who needs preparatory time, as in the actual prep time used in professional kitchens before service, in order to reach her culinary potential.  Cooking on the fly doesn't appear to be her strength.  Too bad.  Was hoping to see someone of her demeanor become Top Chef.

JohnnyRalphH
JohnnyRalphH

Tom, can I ask why Top Chef has never casted a chef from the Twin Cities?  Is it because the producers don't like people from Minnesota or something?

SecondTry
SecondTry

 @lkbrose Hey LK--a couple of us have migrated to the show's Facebook page, or to IMDb.

borbor
borbor

 @JohnnyRalphH

 Yes, Ralph all the Top Chef producers have a visceral dislike for people from Minnesota...