Thursday, January 08, 2009

Turkey wrangling!

Today is Steve's birthday. Earlier in the week, when I felt well, I invited him to bring home some bachelor-sailor friends for a home cooked meal. I pulled a turkey out of the freezer to thaw on Monday. So we have one or two guests coming this evening. And I feel like crap, but oh well.

I am slugging back orange juice like it's my job. I've taken B12 tabs for energy and had 2 cups of coffee this morning to get going, since I was up late last night. Caffeine is like crack for me, so 2 cups? I'm amazed I'm not stuck to the ceiling. I also popped a couple Tylenol for functionability without pain. I'm afraid to think of what I might feel like without all this stuff running through me? I'd be a slug, and that's no way to be on the day when Steve turns 33!

So like I said, I had a turkey thawing. 13 pounds, thawing since Monday, yet still rock solid this morning? I was mad because I was supposed to brine that bastard for a minimum of 4 hours, and then cook it, and I was on a tight schedule so I could get it brined and roasted before dinnertime.

I abandon the brining, since my brining time must now be taken up by cold-water soak, changed every 30 minutes. Oh well, turkeys have been roasted and turned out just fine, without being brined. But after only after an hour, the turkey feels deceptively thawed???

Brine on! I mix up the salt-water, brown sugar solution, slice up the oranges and lemons and have my fresh thyme at the ready. I rip into the turkey wrapper and what the hell? Still frozen in the center. A little cool water rinse loosens the neck skin so I can pull out that bag of yuck, but this turkeys legs are closed so tight! And it looks to have the narrowest cavity I've ever seen. No, wait! The turkey butt has been flipped inward and frozen that way.

More cool water and I wrench the turkey butt outward. My hands are all scratched from ice crystals and I use a knife to saw the useless turkey butt off the carcass. I reach inside the not-quite-as-narrow-now cavity, and I am met with some very odd ice. The meat of the turkey in the legs and breasts is plump and squishy; nice and thawed, but inside the ice is clearly made of concrete and isn't going anywhere. It laughs at the cool water I try to employ. Evil, bitchy ice!

Over the next 30 minutes I press my fingers inside, trying to loosen the guts bag from the cavity. My fingers are bruised, my nails are chipped and my hands are raw by the end of that time and I am getting desperate. I am cutting into the minimum brining time, here! Why, why, why didn't I brine it last night? (Because I didn't have the stuff to brine it, but that's neither here nor there.)

I am desperate so I grab a long-handled wooden spoon and try to use it as a lever to wrench the back of garbage loose. I should have warmed the spoon to make a dent in that ice, but I don't have time! I use a fork to chip at the ice. Again with the spoon, heaving and wrenching, sure that I am about to snap the handle off that spoon! Instead, I break a couple of the turkeys ribs and actually apologize, because clearly breaking a dead turkey's ribs is an egregious offense.

More chipping with the fork and now I've employed a set of tongs. I pull and pull, and feel so bad for forceps-delivery mothers and their babies. Little bits of the guts bag and turkey guts themselves fly upward as I try to heave that damn bag out. I am covered in schmutz, my hair is poofed out in a Jenn-fro, and I am cussing.

More fork, more spoon, more tongs, many swear words and I finally heaved that bag out. I rinsed the cavity and lo and behold: the ice has gone. The bird is thawed. I shove fruit into the now-empty cavity, add water to make the brine solution complete, add some more thyme and now the blasted bird is brining.

As for me? I'm exhausted! I still have a cake to decorate (pictures will follow) and a present to make. And some tidying to do. Sigh. I should make more coffee...


terri said...

and this, my friend... is why i don't eat turkey!

Julie Cook Portraits said...

i was going to say.. now u know why i dont cook. LOL