Thursday, November 29, 2012

Creature Report

So. Do you want to know about the turkey?!

We drove to Ocean City on Thursday, and we planned our massive feast for Friday. Once we arrived, got settled, and put Bria to bed, we got to work on some food prep. This included brining our bird. This was the first moment of truth. I get squeamish when dealing with a raw chicken tenderloin, so I knew it was going to take some serious guts. I opened up the turkey, and began rinsing it. I tried to work mechanically, but for some reason it was shocking to me how much the whole thing moved like an actual body. And when it was turned on its breast, I couldn't get the image of an infant having tummy time out of my head. That turkey was so soft and floppy! Then there was that whole thing about the neck and giblets. Again, not sure what I was expecting, but pulling that turkey neck out of the cavity was the most traumatizing experience of the whole event. I can't even begin to process how disgusted I felt. I kept filling up the cavity with water, swishing it around, and dumping it out, hoping the giblets would come with it, but I didn't really see anything come out. I hoped I could call it good, so I just put it in a huge bag o' brine, and stuck it in the vegetable drawer of the fridge.

Twelve hours later, it was time to spatchcock. I was feeling a bit jittery and anxious about the whole thing-- definitely wondering if I was crazy to attempt this on my first ever turkey. I fetched Elisa to give me moral support, and she stood by my side telling me over and over "there is no use for a turkey other than food!" In my extreme raw-meat phobia, I covered the counters in garbage bags, then parchment, which turned out to be genius, because then I just folded up and threw it away at the end. I rinsed and dried the bird yet again (oh, and when I rinsed it, hey! there was a little paper bag full of giblets that was poking out the end!) then rolled up my sleeves, put up my hair, and got to work.

When I bought my new shears, reviews said they cut through bone like a dream, so here I was imagining it would be like cutting butter. Clearly I have not spent a significant amount of time thinking about turkey carcasses. The first instruction was to cut from the tail up to the neck, along one side of the spine, cutting through the ribs. Again, I tried to rid my mind of the image of a tiny human body (so soft! so floppy!). That first bone (it must have been part of the pelvis. ack!) was hardest, and I wondered, yet again, if this was a bad, bad, bad idea. But I soldiered on, hacking my way through bone. Little bone shards kept flipping out as I sawed and pushed and wriggled through, but eventually I made my way up to the neck. Done! Now for the other side. Again the first bone was hardest (the first cut is the deepest?), but I maneuvered up, trickier this time, since I didn't have the stability of the spine being attached to the other side. I pinched my fingers in the shears' handles (it hurt! I have a blood blister!), but kept going and going until I snipped through that last chunk of skin near the neck.

Lest you think the hard work was over, I then flipped the bird on its butchered back and splayed the legs outward in a manner which can only be described as inappropriate, and tucked its wings back into its widened neck. Then, to break the breastbones, and to make the turkey lay flatter, I pressed on the breast of the turkey, trying to get good leverage. This proved rather difficult and resulted in my feeling as though I were giving the turkey CPR. Seriously disturbing. I think my height was the problem-- I couldn't get my weight on top of the turkey, so I enlisted Sam. Sure enough, he was able to get those key pops and cracks out of the bones. After slipping enormous pats of butter underneath the skin, we placed the bird onto a cooling rack within a foil-lined baking sheet. Underneath the rack I put chopped vegetables and herbs to keep the turkey drippings from scorching and smoking. Then, it went into a 450 oven for 90 minutes. (Only ninety minutes!!) She emerged crisp, golden, juicy, and cooked to perfection.

**guys! help! blogger says I am officially out of photo storage! is there an easy and free solution out there for me?? I really want to post the picture of me holding the turkey spine triumphantly...

1 comment:

  1. this is hilarious and fascinating at the same time. I never thought you'd get squeamish in the kitchen! But how disgusting is raw meat, a whole turkey especially?! I think I want to try this next year. 90 minutes and an unforgettable experience is too good to pass up.
    Also - my sister was told she was out of blog space too. She's been deleting old posts, and that seems to free up space. But others I know are paying 4ish $ a month for space!