My 34 years and 91 days have led me to a sobering conclusion: turkey — no matter how prepared — is still turkey.
No matter how long you soak it in saltwater, no matter what you inject it with, and no matter how you raise it’s internal temp to safety, in the moment your fork brings it to your lips it is still turkey.
Turkey, the foulest of fowl, has a number of characteristics that are troubling for culinary purposes:
It is naturally lean, and lean is “foodie” for dry
It is naturally bland, at least in its modern and industrially-raised form
It is more difficult to prepare than tastier birds such as chicken or duck
Been There, Ate That
Now, before you start peppering my timeline and inbox with “but, have you tried it ____?” the answer is “unfortunately, yes.” I’ve had it wet-brined, dry-brined, injected, patted, salted, water-thawed, fridge-thawed, and even misplaced on the back porch for a half hour before preparing. Once ready for the heat, I’ve had it cooked the following ways:
Oven roasted: The classic way to treat your family to a dry meal that reminds them to be thankful for the year’s other 351 dinners
Roasted in a turkey roaster: Produces similar results as oven roasting; perfect for those who prefer their turkey to come out with mushy skin as white as a polar bear’s ass
Deep fryer: As close to palatable as turkey can get. If eaten shortly after frying, the skin is a real treat and the dark meat is downright edible; quickly reverts to “still turkey” within 45 minutes of carving.
Grilled/smoked: Its all there: the apple wood and hickory flavor, the smoke ring on the drumstick, the pleasing hues. Unfortunately, that serves to remind one they’d rather be eating ribs, sausage or brisket.
Bonus photo of the turkey I prepared on my Weber yesterday:
Turkey Still Has Its Place
Minnesota leads the nation in turkey production and I don’t wish to crash the local economy. The good news is that turkey is still good for one thing: processed meat. Balogna, sausage, turkey bacon, you name it. If it’s made by grinding up meat and mixing it with colors, salt, and a variety of tasty chemicals, use turkey. It makes an otherwise deplorable bird edible and provides affordable sustenance for millions while keeping Minnesota farmers employed.
It’s Time To Change The Locks On Turkey
I leave you with this quote by Josh Ozersky of Esquire, who says it best:
Turkey always, always lets you down and makes you feel bad. It's as if we invited an angry, abusive midget to our home to call out everyone's secret sins and then defecate on the carpet, and then invited him back the next year. It's just a mystery.