My family, I am happy to say, is pretty damn awesome. There are 2 parents, an older brother, and a younger sister. And me in the middle (which may explain my need to write a blog. Middle children need CONSTANT attention.)
Anyway, let's review my history of cooking. Since I was 8, I have been midly obsessed with the notion of combining foods and seeing what happens. Some have been feats; others have not (like that pasta salad I made in the 6th grade. It...oh let's not go there.)
Let it be known, though, that I AM NOT a baker. My sister is a baker, par excellence. My brother is a brownie master. Cheesecake brownies are his specialty. I recently tried to make cheesecake brownies and this is what happened:
Let it be known that I just decided to plunk down whipped cream cheese in the brownie batter and that's not how you do it AT ALL.
So my Aunt says to me recently: "Where are you guys having Thanksgiving this year? Your place?" Well sure, why not? Note that it's my first time making the entire meal and shoving the 5 of us in my relatively small (yet large) apartment. But I'm up for the challenge because, if you remember correctly, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
Mashed potatoes? Cool. Stuffing? Sweet. Pumpkin Cheesecake? Got it.
Ahhh...but I've never made a turkey.
Now, in expressing this fact to others, you'd be amazed at the rainbow of advice I've gotten. 100% of responders said making a turkey is easy. Many said "Brine it!" Many said "Don't let the pop up time pop up or it's too dry". Others asked if I killed mine yet (WHAT???).
At any rate, I decided to roast mine overnight, like my Grandmother used to. And I found this killer recipe in Food and Wine Magazine for prepping it with an herb butter. YES.
The plan was set.
First, I decided to make fresh cranberry sauce. No cans here, just mine (ba ha ha.) Which turned out to be stupid easy. Boil a cup of water with 1/2 cup sugar. Add a bag of cranberries. Bring back to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add some fresh orange zest for fun (like I decided to). Adjust sugar for sweetness. It was a damn good cranberry sauce:
Made the pumkin cheesecake. Yay.
Then, then it was time for the turkey. I planned on putting it in between 11 and 11:15pm. The recipe itself is easy: Mix a stick of softened butter with 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh thyme and sage. Get a turkey thawed, get the gross stuff out, rub the butter under the skin, put it in a roasting pan, add a cup of water to encourage juices, and set a foil tent atop it's deceased bird body. A 14 pound bird cooks for like 8 hours at 250. The whole house smells like roasted turkey. Heavenly.
Yeahh...that's what happened AFTER I prepped the bird. I could hear Mom and Dad's voices in the background: "Get the kidneys and heart and stuff out of the neckhole. It's in a bag. Wear gloves to get the neck and gizzards out."
Me: "Oh, those are in a bag too right?"
Them: Stony silence.
I reach into the neckhole and get the bag of gross out. Now onto looking into the cavity to get the neck and gizzards out, when I was greeted with something that led me to shout out loud: "WHAT THE F-K is THAT?!?! A turkey penis????!??!"
I had never really seen the neck before. It wasn't in a bag. And it was still frozen inside the cavity. So there was that.
You mean to tell me they butcher this thing, cut its neck off, and shove it up their tooter????? How barbaric is that??? But a turkey is damn tasty though.....
Anyway, I gave myself a mental shake and told myself I touched lots of gross meats before, so I steeled myself, jacked the frozen mass with my kife and...birthed a turkey neck. Complete with shouting: "AAAAAAAAAAGHHHH! TURKEY PENIS!!" like I was a damn Valkyrie entering war or something. A dead freaking bird and I'm in my kitchen yelling as I pull out a neck like It's still alive.
So I of course thanked the bird for its sacrifices and its delicious, delicious meat.
I don't have a picture of the actual pulling out of the neck. The closest I can come to the feeling I had is this pictorial aversion I had to a banana, circa 2008:
(replace banana with a turkey neck. Man, my hair looked good that day.)
Then I slapped the butter under the skin (elbows deep, Friends), put it in the oven, saluted it, and went to bed.
In the morning, I was greeted with this vision of beauty:
Once done, I took this marvelous, luscious, success out of the oven and let it rest for a few before I tried to move it out of the pan so I could pour the drippings and make a legendary gravy.
Bitch promptly fell apart and became somewhat of a turkey autopsy:
My Father supportively let me know "well, at least we know it's done!" If you've ever met my father, you know that he was laughing at me while he was saying this.
But as the day wore on, everything went well. The Family was together, we talked, laughed, and had a good time, the food was fantastic (even my turkey autopsy), and Mom even brought the centerpieces, which she was very proud of.
(Insert picture of 3 ceramic pumpkins, each relative in size to birth order. Largest is my brother, medium size is me, smallest is my sister, "the baby". Oh, Mom.)
Happy Holidays to all. May your turkeys always be neckless, your butter always be warm, your family always be laughing.
I celebrate with a food wreath.
Gizzards and Glory,