Janet Combs

Janet Combs

It’s probably not the best idea to make something for the very first time and serve it to your entire family on Thanksgiving, but that’s what we’re doing. So, wish us luck! If it doesn’t work out, we’ll be coming over to your place. All 14 of us.

We knew we’d have to make two turkeys this year, because my husband and I are taking a break from home renovation to break in our house with a houseful of family. We only have one oven, which is ordinarily plenty of ovens for 11 months of the year, but timing the cooking of two turkeys with all the other traditional dishes can be tricky.

Fortunately, last week I happened to attend a work luncheon honoring employees with November birthdays. There, a fellow named Ydnar, whose name has been spelled backwards for privacy, fried a turkey for the group. It was absolutely the best turkey I’ve ever tasted. Moist, flavorful — it was actually succulent, and I asked Ydnar what sort of spices he had used. He revealed he had injected the bird with a Creole butter marinade as well as used a rub. Ydnar added that it was the cooking method, however, that kept the juices in — the bird was “air-fried.”

Air-fried? This sounds absurd, almost laughable, like suggesting I bake a batch of cookies on a solar panel, or boil water without, well, water— but one taste will convince you that air frying is a legitimate cooking method. There is no hot fat, yet the bird comes out with that incomparable fried taste. Apparently, you can make all types of previously heart-unhealthy dishes — such as French fries, fried chicken, and ribs — in an air fryer, and enjoy them with less guilt and without popping Tums an hour later due to the fat-induced turmoil in your stomach.

I asked many air-fryer questions at the office’s November birthday luncheon, which is sure to put me on the must-invite list for next year’s gathering. I temporarily turned the luncheon into a focus group on turkey frying. People might have enjoyed hearing about other people’s holiday plans, but instead they learned that the air fryer can handle up to a 16-pound turkey. You just hook the fryer up to your propane tank, and lower your seasoned bird into the receptacle in a wire cage and shut the door — it will be done to perfection in a matter of hours. No gallons of oil to strain and store. No worries about pets and small children knocking over the fryer. No stress about roasting two turkeys and timing them perfectly for the family festivities.

I came home from work and immediately researched the air fryer to see if I could ask for one a little early for my November birthday, which falls this year the day after Thanksgiving. Then, when opening the day’s mail there was an early card from my in-laws, with an early birthday check! The air fryer will be delivered the day before Thanksgiving.

Gratitude comes in many flavors, and I am certainly thankful for the air fryer this year. The fact is, I have no idea how to use it or whether it will work out. But I have faith.

And faith is the thing that gives everyone the capacity to be thankful for something this time of year. Need inspiration? Take a Thanksgiving walk in this truly lovely part of the world, with its graceful Live Oaks, gentle breezes and sparkling waters. Reflect on the fact that you live in a country where people can live free, embracing all of their vastly different viewpoints. You can appreciate your pets; your comfortable old sweatshirt.

And most of all, your family, with all of its beloved characters gathered around the table along with those who have passed on, looking on with love from above. And wishing they could just sample one taste of that fabulous air-fried turkey!

Janet Combs is a freelance writer living in Georgetown County. Her column is published regularly in the Georgetown Times. Contact her at https://janetfrickecombs.wordpress.com.