Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turkey Disasters

Every year Thanksgiving is a bit of a nail biter.  It is not the emotional dramas that play out between family members and guests, but more a question of the special dietary concerns of each person plus the timing!  It is not that I try to please everyone at once, but I do like to have at least something on the table that each person can eat so sometimes I have to be able to put a last minute item on the menu.  Some years the problem has been teenagers who are vegetarian but don't really like vegetables and some years it is allergies and gluten free diets or people who can't chew or digest seeds or just need everything pureed.  But usually, the culprit is the turkey.  MSG, salt or other solutions, hormones, antibiotics, inappropriate feed mixtures or just the simple cruelty of how the turkeys are raised creates a toxic disaster that some of my friends and family will not tolerate.

For the cook however, organic free range turkeys have a few issues beyond how dry they are.  First of all the price!  I could get an average 13 pound grocery store turkey for $13 or I can get someone's free range pet for $70.  One year we bought an organic turkey that seemed reasonably priced but when we got it home we found that had no legs. ???   Another year I received and organic turkey frozen solid the evening before Thanksgiving.  A very nice and expensive gift, however, if you are gifting a frozen turkey, think 3 days in advance at least.  My hands got freezer burn trying to get the giblets out of the neck.  Lots of running water was involved.  Two years ago I got a fresh free range turkey from a local farm.  It was not just covered with pin feathers!  It had full feathers good enough for a quill pen protruding from the wing tips.  I worked on the turkey for two hours with a pair of pliers before I could cook it.

This year I have solved the problem.  Only omnivores are coming for dinner.  I don't even have to buy Himalayan sea salt to brine the turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!