Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The Great Turkey Challenge - Meal 1

      The other day I was writing my "Let's Talk Turkey" blog.  It occurred to me that turkey is an underused poultry.  Sure people use ground turkey, but the whole turkey, not as much.  I was listing all of the things that I made using the turkey.  It was that that prompted me to make a bit of a game of it.  Just how many meals could I create using turkey?

    I went to the grocery store and bought a 5-7 kg PC buttered turkey.  I went to the Butterball website to check the cooking instructions.  http://butterball.ca/index.php  The Butterball website is really excellent, there is even a cooking calculator.  Cooking a turkey is actually a pretty easy job, time consuming in the actual amount of time it takes to cook, but the effort is minimal.  I made my homemade stuffing, and popped that little bad boy into the oven (using a small bit of tinfoil to cover the stuffing so that it didn't overcook).
    My stuffing is a variation on the age old Hamilton recipe (my Nana's).  I use a loaf of bread, that I have torn into smaller pieces.  I add about 1/2 cup of oatmeal, 2 Tbsp of chicken bouillon powder, poultry seasoning, one onion diced, 1/4 of melted butter, salt and pepper, and enough water to make it all stick.  I mix it up well.  The funny thing about stuffing and gravy, is that there are never two batches quite alike.  Although I have listed ingredients in amounts, in real life I just eyeball it.  Sometimes it is amazing stuffing, sometimes, it's too dry or too wet.

    While my turkey was cooking in the oven, I started my gravy.  I like to boil the chicken neck.  I start with a big pot of water and let it cook on a low temperature for a few hours.  I let it cook slowly until it is only about half of the amount of water. Then I take the chicken neck out of the pot.  When my turkey is done cooking, I pour the juices in with the turkey neck broth.  I turn the heat up on my juices, until they nearly reach a boil.  While that is heating, I take a mug and pour about 1/4 cup of corn starch in and mix in about a tbsp of chicken bouillon powder.  I mix water in until it is like really thick soup.  I then pour that into the juice.  It cooks up and thickens, and there's the gravy (I really whisk it, because it thickens quickly).

    The turkey that I had chosen from the store was a smaller turkey.  It cost me $23.00.  That $23.00 bird gave me an overflowing plate full of white meat, and a plate full of dark meat, not too shabby.
I had seen a chef showing the proper technique to cutting a turkey one time on television.  It in no way resembled the way we had traditionally cut it up for our meals.  The chef let the bird cool a little (he said 'rest') then he hacked it up real good.  He began by cutting off the thighs and legs.  He took all of the meat off of those.  He then took off the wings.  The next step was the breasts.  It was quite a thing to watch.  It was amazing just how much more meat came off of the bird using that technique.  That was what I did to cut up this bird.  There was no pomp or pageantry, just cutting carnage.

    I put all of the bones into my dutch oven and let them all cook.  I cooked it at a low heat.  I let it just simmer for most of the night.  About an hour before I was going to bed I turned it off to let it cool a little.  Just before bed I took all of the bones out, and left the meat.  I then transfered the meat and broth into my crockpot.  I added celery, onion, carrots, greek spice, salt and pepper.  I let it cook overnight.  In the morning I added rotini noodles.
    So there you have it, Day 1 of my turkey challenge.  A big turkey dinner with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and peas.  With the turkey carcass I made turkey noodle soup, and wasted no scrap of turkey meat.  For those of you counting, that's two meals so far.

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