This year’s first turkey dinner was a surprise. There is something to be said for the spectacular task of preparing and presenting a twenty-four pound turkey to the dinner table. But I digress as it has been many years since a turkey of those proportions has been roasted by me. No, this year’s bird was a mere 16 pounds. Perfect.
Gene – aka Honey Bun – acquired a fairly local free range turkey from Peace Valley Poultry (as he has in the past) and brought it home fresh yesterday just hours after being butchered and chilled.
Now a big ole turkey has become somewhat intimidating to me. For so many years the turkey would take up this huge space in the fridge or freezer until baking time and it just confounded me. Some years we would ask the butcher to cut it in half, and would roast one half for turkey feasting and save the second half for mid summer fare. Regardless, it would take up too darn much room in the freezer. If the whole bird or even half the bird was baked then there were all those leftovers…of which I LOVED for several days. There is nothing to compare with a big fat white meat sandwich on lightly toasted whole wheat bread slathered with mayo (and by that I mean Miracle Whip, but that ingredient no longer graces my kitchen) heavy on the salt and pepper. Pickles on the side.
But if there was enough turkey left over to require freezing the cooked meat then I wanted nothing to do with it. I simply loathe frozen cooked turkey. It does not seem to me fit for consumption. Yuk.
So Gene and I had many long conversations about whether or not to even get a turkey. We are expecting no company this year. Etc.
Gene happened upon the brilliant idea of cutting the big bird up (not to be confused with THE Big Bird) just like you would a chicken for frying, wrapping each piece individually and then freezing those pieces. I LOVED the idea. And we did just that. But not until after we had drank our coffee and steeled ourselves to trash the kitchen.
I realized how much space the bony pieces would take up in the freezer so we decided to roast them. This included the back, breast bone, wing tips, and neck. Well heck if we were going to go to that much trouble we might as well add a few potatoes and some carrots. And how about onion, celery, garlic cloves and don’t forget the rosemary, sage and a bit of fresh parsley. Some cracked black pepper and that last clump of cabbage.
You may get the picture by now. We were suddenly roasting a turkey meal and leaving yesterday’s planned leftovers for another day.
Best. Dang. Turkey. Meal. Ever!
So we had our first turkey meal of this holiday season for late lunch and it was good. If only I had remembered the cranberry sauce.
And right now at this very minute the bones and scrappy bits are simmering in a pot to make broth for soup. By now it is so late in the day that I am going to be tuckered out by the time the broth is cool enough to handle, strain, and chilled enough for the fridge.
This next part is an old favorite of mine. The broth, pot and all, will get set out in the garden overnight (because there is a fence) to chill. The temperature will be just below freezing and the soup will chill quickly. In the morning I can skim the fat (or not) and either make soup or can the stock for later.
Life is good. And my turkyphobia is gone. Having ten neat packages of great turkey wrapped and in the freezer for reasonably sized meals seems so much easier to deal with than a giant carcass!