Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving and more turkey lessons

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and we had a 20-pound turkey breast. It came from the biggest turkey we've ever raised -- a 43 pound tom! I was shocked when the processor said how big he was! All the way home, I said I'd never raise another broad-breasted bronze for seven months. In fact, my daughter, who accompanied me on the trip, said that I repeated, "I'm never doing that again" at least a couple dozen times. I'd be sitting in silence, staring at the road ahead, and say, "I'm never doing that again."

Well, my mama always said, "Never say never," and if someone had reminded me of that last Friday, I'd have said that she never grew a 43-pound turkey! Yesterday, when I took my first bite of that turkey, I knew my mama had been right. It was the most delicious turkey I'd ever had in my entire life -- including all the wonderful heritage turkeys we've been eating for the past four years. My oldest daughter was reading the newsletter of the American Livestock Breed Conservancy a couple of months ago, and it said that the reason heritage chickens are so tasty is because they're older. Chickens in the supermarket are all 6 to 10 weeks old, and they simply have not developed any flavor. They say the tastiest chickens (and I think I agree) are the older ones. Without a doubt, the old laying hens make the most delicious broth. Well, now I think I understand why the heritage turkeys always tasted the best to me -- they were seven or eight months old. We've always butchered the broad-breasted by about five months because they were getting so big, and they were always on the dry side and without much flavor. The turkey we had yesterday was delicious and tender without being mushy. It had so much broth cooking off of it (4+ cups!) that I used it in the stuffing and the gravy -- and yeah, it was the tastiest gravy and stuffing I've ever had also. Although I've always liked chicken better than turkey, this turkey was better than any chicken I've ever had. It's hard to believe how much basic knowledge has been lost in our culture. While we charge ahead at light speed developing faster computers and electronic equipment, our culture is losing basic information about good food.

Tonight we had turkey tetrazini for dinner, and it was the best I've ever had. I'm thinking that I really should remember my mother's advice to "Never say never." After eating such a delicious turkey, I do think we'll be raising them to seven months of age again next year.

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