Another year, another turkey...


I simply cannot believe that an entire year has almost come and gone again. When I was a kid, it seemed as if it took forever for Christmas to come - the 12 months that make up a year just crawled along back then... but today, as I approach 40 years of age, the calendar seems to move faster than the wings of a humming bird on RedBull. Jeepers. I'm not sure that I'm having fun, but time sure does fly - that's for sure.

As has been tradition for the past few years, I made my way down to Arkansas to enjoy some Thanksgiving bird with Amy and the crew (the crew being the dogs and cats). I decided that this year, I would splurge on a "real" turkey.

So, prior to making the 10+ hour drive to Arkansas, I made a 3+ hour drive northwest of Stevens Point to purchase a locally farmed, organically certified, pasture raised (completely - no cages), naturally fed, antibiotic- and hormone-free turkey from the fine folks at Good Earth Farms. While they would've happily shipped the turkey to me, I: (a) wanted to check out the farm, and (b) misunderstood that the turkey was fresh (not frozen).

Upon arrival to the farm, I met the owner, Mike and immediately took a liking to him. He was happy, friendly, and passionate - not only about his farm, but about marathon canoeing (of all things!). When I walked-in to his shipping area, I found him building a canoeing "treadmill" of sorts so that he could keep paddling throughout the winter. We chatted for a good 20-30 minutes before he grabbed a 15-lb turkey for me and sent me on my way. He also had a nice pack of dogs that included some Corgis and a big, old German Shepherd.

I was stoked to have the turkey, even if it was frozen as solid as an asteroid. And believe me when I say it was frozen solid - I transported the turkey 3+ hours back to Madison sans cooler, and the thing didn't even break a sweat.

I spent the next few days thawing the turkey, followed by brining it for 12 hours in a simple stock/salt/sugar solution. After brining, it was time to rinse, dry, oil, stuff it with aromatics, and start roasting.

While the turkey was roasting, I put together my usual sage/sausage/apple/walnut dressing, some garlic-buttermilk mashed potatoes, and giblet gravy (I remove the giblets before serving).

Thanks to a problem with my Polder remote thermometer, the turkey made a premature oven exit (the thermometer said that after 2 hours in the oven, the turkey was at 75F)... of all the times to have a thermometer die, why did it have to be on Thanksgiving day? Perhaps it's the same karma that causes the smoke alarm batteries to always die at around 3:00am...

Because of the thermometer issue, I ended-up pulling the turkey from the oven a little too early... when probed with my backup thermometer, the bird showed an internal breast temperature of nearly 160F, which I felt was sufficient, given that the turkey would rest for 30 minutes and carryover heat would bring it to a safe 165F.


After letting the turkey rest for 30 minutes (and putting the finishing touches on everything else - browning the dressing, bringing together the potatoes, deglazing the roasting pan, scraping the brown bits into the gravy and straining, finishing the corn, and baking the dinner rolls), the internal breast temperature registered a whopping 145F. Yikes - medium rare turkey, anyone?

We chanced it anyway... yeah - we're crazy fearless here. But could you blame us? The turkey looked excellent (I think the way the skin "tore" it looks as if the turkey is wearing a bikini top):


And the dressing was begging to be cut into and spooned onto our plates... never having been a fan of dressing in the past, I feel I missed-out on a ridiculous amount of this starchy, meaty deliciousness.


And so we dug-in. The turkey was divine, but after eating a few slices, common sense (and a desire for self-preservation) prevailed and we decided to return the bird to the hotbox and let it finish to a proper temperature. It took another hour for the bird to reach 160F... no worries, we had stuffed our bellies and were watching the Packers trounce the Lions, so all was good. Here was my plate prior to feasting:


Can you guess which part of the meal is my favorite? :-)

We enjoyed the meal along with a bottle of 1994 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon. I'd been sitting on that bottle since 2000 and decided it was time to uncork it. Wow - absolutely divine. I've got a bunch of other oldies to try at some point, but this one seemed appropriate for the Thanksgiving meal. I can't wait to try my 1989 Cask 23...

After eating to the point of exhaustion, the clean-up crew kicked-in and took care of any leftovers. The cats nibbled on the turkey carcass (as usual), and Monica helped herself to the remnants of my plate:


Oh, Squiddy.

Squid (Monica) is getting so old - we got her from the Great Dane Rescue of North Texas in February of 2002, when she was about 6-8 months old. We estimate she's about 10 right now, and she's showing her age. Her back legs tremble and shake; she doesn't have the strength or coordination that she had a few years ago; her face is grey; and she spends 99% of her day sleeping. It's depressing to know that she won't be around much longer - she is such a dorky, sweet, and wonderfully finicky girl. We joke that she has two hearts and no brain.

The other animals are all doing really well; cats are still as fat as ever, Regis is as crazy and concerned as usual, and Riley's still a pistol.

After our meal, we cleaned the kitchen, went for a walk at the local park/lake (it was nearly 70F outside), and then returned home for... a piece of apple pie. Ugh! And I wonder why my pants don't fit as well as they did 6 months ago.

I met-up with some friends on Friday night and had some great pizza at a local joint called "The Rail - A Pizza Company" (odd name, but great pies), enjoyed a few beverages, and then vowed to get serious about diet and exercise. Saturday came and I was on-plan - running, riding, lifting, and eating sensibly. So far, so good. We'll see if I can keep it up through the end of the year.

Heck, with as fast as the calendar scrolls along, you'd think it wouldn't be difficult to commit to a year's worth of clean eating and living, right?

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steve published on November 30, 2011 8:31 AM.

Fish Fry Review: Dexter's Pub (November 2011) was the previous entry in this blog.

Ten Things I Hate About You (I'm talking to you, Prius) is the next entry in this blog.

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