Our Thanksgiving Turkey- From Farm to Table

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Our Thanksgiving Turkey- From Farm to Table

***Let me warn you that this video is pretty graphic. The surroundings are beautiful and the video is good, but we are killing and gutting a turkey. I’m bummed that I didn’t get all of the organ meat preparing into the video. Besides not having a clear tutorial on preserving the heart and liver (avoiding the volatile bile duct), the video is missing how you save the gizzard by removing the dirt, grass and rocks from inside then peeling the plastic-like membrane off of it.  I used these organ meats to make a wonderful, gelatin-rich stock. I saved the legs and even the heads (well cleaned and processed) for this “Gnarly Stock”…see the picture below. In case you are going to use this video to help in your own processing of a bird, I didn’t include removing the little oil gland above the tail, so make sure to do that!

Wow. We actually did it. We raised a turkey, killed her, processed her, and ate her. (Let me rephrase…I processed her. My husband conveniently had to go to work.) My vegetarian self of 10 years ago would have never imagined this.

Why did we do this? Because I have a strong conviction that if I’m going to eat meat, I should take the responsibility to know where it comes from and be sure that it was raised and killed humanely. I want to make sure my meat is clean and healthy. Raising your food helps you appreciate it and not waste a single part of it. My children are being raised to understand where their food comes from and will hopefully learn to think sustainably, not wastefully.

I also want to eat really good meat.

How I cooked it:

First I brined it in a tall pot that the turkey just fit in…the bird was 20 pounds! The brine was basically water, a lot of salt, balsamic vinegar and an everyday seasoning mixture with things like peppercorns, dried orange zest and other herbs and spices. I suggest brining for 12-24 hours.

After rinsing the bird of the brine and drying it well, I actually roasted the turkey upside-down on a rack in a large roasting pan. This way isn’t as picture perfect as breast-side up, but I think that this way is the best. When you cook it upside-down, your dark meat is roasted deliciously and you get the most crispy skin. The white meat is never over-cooked and perfectly juicy as the dark meat juices run right down into the white meat. I made an garlic, herb and butter mash with (no parsley) sage, rosemary and thyme. You could use parsley, but I was just making a bad joke about the song.

I carefully rubbed my garlic and herb butter inside- starting with the breast meat then turning it upside-down in the pan and finishing it. I put it in a 425 degree F oven then immediately reduced the heat to 350 degrees F. I roasted the turkey for about 12 minutes per pound, and basted it every half hour or so. At exactly 4 hours, the turkey was perfectly ready- reading 160 degrees in the thickest meat areas. I cover it and let it rest for about 20 minutes before slicing to serve.

And here it is….what an experience!

Here is the “Gnarly Stock”…


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