The Bachelor and the Turkey

     Now, this is not, not, not, not a food blog, as I have mentioned before.  However, we are rolling at the greatest food holiday of our year (about the only one which is about the entree and not the dessert, or the snack) and I thought I would record my turkey cooking experiences.  This is less to enlighten YOU, creamed cod sauce, than it is a request by my loving relatives that I set this down in black and white so I can stop telling THEM about it.  (This is also the season for wishing for things you ain’t gonna get, but we will move on.)

     In my heyday, which was one or two decades ago, Daylight Savings Time, I would eke out my miserable salary by buying a fresh turkey at my local grocery store every other week.  (Nowadays, they supply fresh turkeys for three days before and two days after Thanksgiving and Christmas.)  This was an investment of about twenty-five bucks, and from that investment, I would derive fifteen to twenty meals.

     Sunday after buying this turkey I would rise in the morning and set a disposable aluminum pan on the bottom of a broiling pan, in case of leakage.  After wrestling the turkey out of its mesh net and plastic bag, I removed the bag of giblets.  I would open that, remove the liver, and wrap that separately for the freezer (to await the next time I yearned after Turkey Liver Pizza.)  Then I would wrap the rest of the giblets in foil and toss that into the pan where it could support the drumsticks.  The turkey itself would then be stuffed with, well, two quarters of an onion  (one in the central cavity and one under the skin at the other end) or some peeled cloves of garlic in the same two places.  This would then be placed in the pan, breast down because my mother cooked chickens that way.  I put foil over the bird, crimped this along the edge of the pan to keep the steam inside, and shoved the whole assembly into the oven.

     I always bought the improved turkeys with a label telling how long to cook per pound.  I would add half an hour or thereabouts to this time.  Once that time was up–no nonsense in this meal about basting, removing the foil to brown the skin, or preparing a roux for gravy—I would take up the broiler pan and carefully set this heavy, hot contraption on the front of the stove.

     Two plates and a bowl or two had been set up on the counter as my receiving station.  Dodging steam, I set the top foil aside, saving the bits of crisp skin which had stuck to it despite my trying to form a tent over the bird.  With a couple of forks, I could easily remove the two legs (the result of that extra half hour: things come loose without the use of a cleaver) and set them, one at a time, on large pieces of foil on a receiving plate.  The foil was folded and each leg tucked away in the defidgidator: that was two dinners to come.

     The wings went on the other plate: once they cooled a bit, I would start eating those (have to keep your strength up during this process.)  If I felt brave, I would then move the bowls into position, and carefully pour off the liquid in the pan (let the turkey slide to the corner you’re pouring from BEFORE pouring; it prevents splashy surprises).  Depending on how the seal of the foil worked, there might be two to four bowls of this liquid, which could then be set into the fridge to cool and separate.  Once upon a time, the result was about eighty percent turkey gelatin and twenty percent fat.  Turkey growers have changed their ways, and over the last ten years, it has been more ninety-five percent gelatin and five percent fat.  The fat can be pulled off this for use as cooking fat while the gelatin will make anywhere from two to six bowls of turkey noodle soup.  (Another recipe we won’t stop for today.)

    Now pan and turkey are light and safe enough for more heavy duty work.  Remember the receiving plate that did not have wings on it?  Get out more foil and remove as much of the white meat as you can.  One breast and other smidgets of meat can be wrapped in foil and put in the freezer while the other is similarly wrapped and set next to the legs.  THIS is going to provide turkey sandwiches for lunch for the next two to three weeks (depending on the size of the bird and how greedy you are when making lunch.)

     Now I would eat the wings (unless I had done so already) and the tail, which at some point had also been placed on the receiving plate.  This would be followed by what was in the foil container of giblets as well as any meat which adhered to the remaining bones, or fell off into the pan while you were working, oh, and that crispy bit stuck to the foil, and….

     And then I would take a nap, filled with the turkey’s sleep chemicals and secure in the knowledge that I would not have to decide what was for lunch or dinner (dinner or supper for those of you from my hometown) for a couple of weeks.  AND there was cooking fat to make popcorn in the frying pan.

     In this way, I celebrated Bachelor Thanksgiving about twenty times a year.  I don’t suppose any of this will be useful to you tomorrow, but at the very least I wish you as hearty a nap as came with my old recipe.

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