I want to give fair warning to any of mes chers lecteurs who may be vegetarian or who may have delicate sensibilities…the slide show attached to this post could be considered a bit graphic.
Now, here in the US, it is the week of Thanksgiving (click here for awesome History channel video), and the “traditional” American Thanksgiving meal includes a roasted turkey and dressing (or stuffing, but as Alton Brown says, “stuffing is evil”), mashed potatoes, “green bean casserole” (also evil in my opinion), cranberry sauce or relish, sweet potatoes (traditionally served topped with marshmallows…ewww) and pumpkin or pecan pie. The supposed star of this feast is the turkey, which is sad because it is usually the worst part of the whole thing! Turkeys are notoriously hard to cook, the breast is dry as a bone, (think of this famous scene in the 1989 movie”Christmas Vacation”) or if the breast is cooked properly, the dark meat is underdone. The USDA recommends cooking the bird to a temperature of 165º F which will definitely save you from food-borne illness like salmonella but will also almost guarantee you a dry bird. To overcome this, we have devised methods to brine, fry, inject, and all other types of things to do to the birds to avoid this. (I have to say that Alton Brown’s method has served us the best over the years).
I have a confession. I actually don’t really like turkey very much. OK, I really don’t like the “traditional” American Thanksgiving “feast” all that much either. I find that it’s a lot of work for a meal that is usually “so-so.” In fact, I asked my mom if we could have Green Chile instead of turkey when I go to my folks house this year. Thankfully, she said yes 🙂 Whew. Now that that is out of the way, I’ll continue with my story.
My husband’s co-worker raises “heritage turkeys” as in old breeds raised from chicks in humane circumstances without crowding, antibiotics, stress, or any of the other “issues” that mass-produced birds have. So we bought one this year, not exactly for Thanksgiving day (when we will be having Green Chile with my folks) but just for us, mostly to see if there is a huge difference between this turkey and All Other Turkeys. She delivered it to us Saturday morning fresh from the processor. We had a picture taken just a few days before, and in fact when we got the bird, she had been walking around a mere hours before. We brined it (because that is still a great way to impart flavor to just about any kind of meat) and then on Monday we cooked it. I have provided a slide show below of the whole process. Yes, it is delicious, and we will be making a soup stock and soup from the bones and the leftover meat. (I intend to add green chile to this soup because I am a true New Mexican and that is what we do. Indeed, everything is better with green chile.)
The verdict? Yes, if I’m going to have a turkey I would absolutely do it this way. Why? Because I like knowing where my food comes from and how it’s treated before I eat it. I am no farmer, so it’s worth it to me to pay someone else to take this kind of care. Plus, it was delicious. Not the least bit dry, in fact it was the juiciest turkey I have ever eaten. Am I now in love with turkey? Not really. I am enjoying this turkey, but I will say that I still prefer other meats to turkey.
All that to say that I am thankful for my husband’s friends who raised this beautiful bird and for their respect for Where Things Come From.
Et vous, chers lecteurs? Do you love turkey? If you are American, what is your opinion about the “traditional” Thanksgiving meal? What kinds of traditions does your family have? If you are from somewhere else, would you like to try a meal like this? Do you try to always “know where your food comes from” ? Is this kind of assurance valuable to you? Dites-moi ! Tell me in the comments, I love to hear from you!