Work Your Turkey

I’m just going to say it: up until now, I’ve never made a turkey before – embarrassing I know. Since it’s almost official turkey season (and my husband loves it), I thought I’d give it a go!

It’s so exciting really, the thought of cooking something you’ve never before tried. I figured I was up for the challenge. I mean, how hard can it be?!

I bought a 13.5 pounder. It was frozen. As directed, I let it sit in the fridge for a day and a half. 36 hours later, it was time. I must admit, I was a little overwhelmed after unwrapping it. So many questions rushing through my head… How do I remove the body parts? Does it still have eyeballs? Will my turkey be comparable to my mother-in-law’s? Oh, the stress!!!

“Breathe in, breathe out, Paula-san!”

I needed to educate myself so I watched every turkey-oriented YouTube video I could find. There are some great ones, showing step by step procedures. I gained my confidence back and went for it.

After rinsing the bird, pushing its legs back under the body (kinda hard), removing the neck, and googling giblets (deciding to include), I was ready for the fun part – stuffing and seasoning! I opened my fridge to look for goodies to put inside my turkey. I hadn’t purchased anything specific since I forgot about the stuffing part (oops!) but I decided radishes and celery would do. I jammed those suckers in. I did plan on using honey, rosemary (from the garden) and fresh ground pepper for my mix of seasonings. Per several YouTube videos, I separate the skin from the breast and put my seasonings between. Now I was really workin the bird here, pushing the rosemary as far in as I can reach. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I then coated the outside with honey and added more seasoning… and took a picture (of course!).

I set the timer – four long hours. I didn’t have a turkey popper thing so I was a bit nervous about overcooking. God, the anticipation was overpowering. I just kept checking on it, watching it transform, smelling it. Finally…

It was done! I don’t want to sound pompous but I think it was the best turkey I’ve ever eaten. It was juicy and rich with flavor. To my surprise the radishes were incredible – so soft, soaked in all the turkey drippings. The celery was a bit stringy but hey… all n’all I was completely impressed with my skills. I mean, even  though I was a little taken back at first, in my heart I know I’m an amazing cook.

Gobble Gobble!

Two  things I learned after cooking my first turkey…

1. People don’t season their bird enough. Since turkey tastes so good to begin with, they just stick it in the oven. The bird gave up its life for your eating pleasures – he deserves to taste as best he can! Take the extra step and season that bird!

2. For a 23 dollar turkey my husband and I ate all week. If I buy one pound of turkey cold cuts, it costs me about 9 bucks. It’s so worth it to get the whole bird. Turkey leftovers can be used on sandwiches, with eggs, turkey tetrazzini perhaps! So many options…

In closing – buy turkey, season the sucker and cook it, it tastes so good. Oh, and guineafowl is a much better name for turkey.