Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio weighs in on the great turkey brining debate.

on Nov 23, 2012

Emeril’s team largely did well, too, but once we saw Josie’s undercooked turkey, everyone at the table knew it was all over for the Gray Team. If Josie hadn't had immunity, she would have gone home — this was one of those times when having immunity truly came in handy. Kuniko’s potatoes were clearly the second-worst dish of the evening, so it worked out well for all that she was on the team that was up for an elimination. Kuniko had plenty of time to cook that dish, and it was such a simple dish that any chef should have been safe from elimination with it. If that dish is cooked correctly and seasoned properly, you just can’t get sent home. I couldn’t understand how Kuniko blew a dish like that, or how she didn't realize the fact, which was easy to discover. Honestly, she made our job as judges easy this week.

The challenge itself reflected what’s great about Thanksgiving. Fast Company magazine interviewed me for an article in the current issue about Thanksgiving, in which they discussed the origins of the holiday. “The First Thanksgiving” actually wasn’t… a thanksgiving, that is. Apparently a hunting party shot a bunch of birds and invited some of the Native Americans to join them in eating them, along with harvested vegetables. Giving thanks probably wasn’t part of the agenda, or at least not at the top of it. Large harvest meals were common throughout the growing nation in the autumns that followed, in order to eat up food that would otherwise go to waste, but it wasn’t until 1863 that Lincoln, noting that we didn’t have any official holidays in the fall, declared it a national holiday of thanksgiving in a gesture intended to start to reunify the country. People most likely ate whatever was available locally, which, in New England where the tradition began, would most likely have included a good amount of fish, because cod came into the shallows in the winter, and oysters and scallops were much more abundant than now (think “oyster stuffing”). Squashes, nuts, fall-berries like cranberries, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, parsnips, turnips… all became traditional.