On Thanksgiving…

Originally published at Kickin’ the new Kuh-nowledge. You can comment here or there.

I convinced my boss that I didn’t have to drive up to Chicago this week… meaning that I could work from home all week instead of doing my normal weekly commute.  Saves gas.  Saves time.  Saves my sanity.

Liz had arranged for us to buy a turkey from a local farm.  One of the nice things about living out here in the middle of the farm belt is that…  well… uhm…  you can go to a farm and buy shit.  Seriously, you can buy just about anything.  Meat, veggies, fruits.  It’s all available locally (at least during the summer).

Anyway, we picked up our bird (14.8 pounds) that had just been killed the day before and made our way home.  They don’t clean the gizzard for you on the farm so that was a neat experience.  I had no idea that turkeys (and I assume other birds) use small rocks in their gizzards to basically grind up their food.  The sack that holds these rocks needs to be removed before you can use the gizzard for cooking (and yes, I do use the gizzard for cooking).

There are two ways to cut this sack out.  The easy way or the hard way.  I easy way makes a mess and then you must clean the gizzard thoroughly before using it.  The hard way require precision.  I chose the hard way, and as the poet said… that has made all the difference.  ;)

Once the gizzard operation was complete and the giblets were cleaned, we proceeded with our turkey cooking extravaganza…

First… the giblets and wing tips go in some water to make turkey broth.  Turkey broth is important because you’ll need it for both the stuffing and the gravy.  If you don’t have enough… no worries.  You can always substitute chicken broth.

Second…  make the injection concoction.  I use butter and dry sherry.  You can use whatever you like, but you can’t go wrong with butter and sherry.  Inject this concoction liberally throughout the breast area and anywhere else you want to add it.  If you prefer brining, to injecting, that works too.  The idea here is to end up with a moist bird.  Either method will work.  The method that will NOT work is basting.  Basting is a waste of time.

Finally…  the stuffing.  For me, the best stuffing in the world is oyster stuffing made with cornbread.  This year, though, because some of our guests don’t like seafood, we opted for two different stuffings.  One was a chestnut, sausage and mushroom dressing Liz found.  The other was just a standard old school nothing special stuffing.  Keep in mind that the bird doesn’t necessarily need to be stuffed.  If you like the idea of stuffing the bird, add some cooking time to cover for it.  I normally stuff the bird, but I think in the future I’m not going to bother.  I’ll just make the stuffing separately to save some time.

The dinner itself was fun.  We had four guests.  They thoroughly enjoyed the food (bird, cranberry chutney, green bean casserole, parsnip and celery root and sweet potato au gratin, mashed potatoes, broccoli, stuffing, salad,  pumpkin pie, strawberry-rhubarb pie).  We thoroughly enjoyed their company.
As for what I’m thankful for…  there is too much to name.  I’m most thankful for Liz…  the rest follows from there.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.  I  know I did.

–sam

3 thoughts on “On Thanksgiving…”

  1. I applaud you for being up close and personal with your food. I really dislike folks who eat animals, but can not handle the process of getting the animal onto the table. I think the whole process gives you a better appreciation for the food.

    We have stopped stuffing the turkey and bake the stuffing separately. Though we are in the south and in prime oyster country, we don’t do the oyster dressing. The chestnut, sausage and mushroom dressing sounds like my mother’s traditional stuffing (quite tasty). I put the effort into making it the last Thanksgiving in the house I grew up in.

  2. I am curious about how both gizzard cleaning methods go. We are going to get a “Farmers Market Turkey” next year and might be helpful.

    I’ve also picked up a trick that to get good whitemeat to flip the bird for the las half hour so the juice runs back through the white meat/sits in the juices. Seems to work quite well.

    I had 3 turkeys this year. I am this close to making one when i get home as I love turkey so much.

    1. The messy method is to cut right into it and clean up the resulting mess as best you can. It’s easy, but messy.

      The more difficult method is to cut into the gizzard without rupturing the sack inside. If you’re successful you can just peel the gizzard away from the sack. I wasn’t 100% successful with this method, but I did pretty well and was able to get the sack out mostly intact. Enough so that I only had a small amount of cleanup afterward.

      –sam

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