This Thanksgiving we combined forces with my cousins Kim and Diane, as we always do. Some years we host and some years they host, but Bill always makes the meat (the turkey and ham) and I make pies, and Kim and Diane make all the many trimmings and more pies, and my parents bring salad and bread and my other cousins bring the ice chest filled with beverages.
This year, Bill wasn't here and it was just Annie and I, so Kim and Diane hosted and made the turkey plus the trimmings. I made the ham. I made pies. And etcetera.
And their turkey was delicious, with an apple cider brine and dark rich gravy. But Annie and I came home with only a small amount of leftovers, craving more.
Now, there is nothing in the world like good turkey sandwich made simply, with mayonnaise and cranberry sauce slathered* on good crusty artisan bread. We'd taken home a small packet enough for Annie to have a sandwich, and I had some of the left over fragments, but this only enflamed our passions.
We needed more turkey, and we needed it immediately.
This is not unusual. Many years we find ourselves craving more turkey after Thanksgiving, and sometime in early December there we are, brining and roasting away, Thanksgiving redux. But this year, a mere day after the feast, on Black Friday, I found myself at the checkout counter with a ten pound organic Diestel. The cashier looked at me strangely, and I babbled something about "not-enough-leftovers" and "we-didn't-host-this-year" and she shrugged because she didn't really give a shit.
Once home, I Twittered my turkey buy, and pondered my cooking options.
"Spatchcock it!" my friend Leila said.
"Whoosiwats it?" Spatchcock. I'd never heard of such a thing.
"Spatchcock it." And she sent me a link to food writer Mark Bittman's website where there's an impressive video of him making a roast turkey in 45 minutes.
Spatchcock (I looked it up so you don't have to): The process of cutting out the backbone of a fowl and butterflying it or spreading it out flat for grilling or roasting.
I love words as much as food, and since just saying the word "spatchcock" makes me giggle, how could I resist?
Yesterday, I spatchcocked the turkey. You can see pictures of this process here, here, here, and here. Admire my style, admire my artistry. The bird took 50 minutes to cook from beginning to end, and came out gorgeous.
Here's what it looked like finished.
Annie and I sat down to eat.
The flavor was lovely, the skin delicious, but the texture.... Oh no! The texture! Practically uncarvable. Unchewable. Ultimately? Inedible.
Ten pounds of turkey, directly into the soup pot.
Now I don't blame Mark Bittman or the spatchcocking, I blame the bird itself. It's been simmering on the stove for hours and the texture still resembles leather, though the house is filled with a delicious aroma -- this will make a killer soup.
Since I'm at a stage in life where I try to take everything as a learning opportunity, I'm going to try to get all philosophical here. So... what DOES the turkey tell us?
- Something about greed? After all, we had our turkey on Thanksgiving, did we really need more? (Yes, we did.)
- Something about beauty being skin deep? (Well, it was a beautiful skin, and we gobbled that all up.)
- Something about lemons and lemonade (or, rather turkey and turkey soup)?
Look, I can ponder the lessons of the turkey, or I can plan tonight's dinner. Because besides turkey sandwiches, there's nothing better than a good Turkey, Bean, and Barley soup.
Oh, and I'll be brining a turkey breast later this week. The search for the perfect turkey sandwich carries on.
The Spatchcocked Turkey image gallery is here: http://www.redroom.com/gallery/the-spatchcocked-turkey