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Embarrassment of Turkey

So we went to the farmer’s market today to pick up up our CSA share, and the farmer fixed us with a worried eye and said “Have you folks bought a turkey?”

“We’ve reserved one of yours, yeah.”

He nodded slowly. “And, um…how many people do you have coming to Thanksgiving dinner?”

Kevin and I did some math. “Uh…nine? I think?”

The farmer sighed. “I was sort of hoping you’d say thirty-five…”

He went into the cooler and pulled out a turkey drumstick the size of my forearm, only a lot bigger around. Kevin and I stared at it. It made the ones you get at the Ren Faire look like hot wings.

“We prepped five of them, since people wanted turkey, and…well…they’re huge,” said the farmer sadly. “They wouldn’t fit in the pot to scald them.* I had to get a 55 gallon drum and slice the top off. It took two men to lower one in.”

“What are you feeding them?”

“Nothing unusual! They’re free-range!” (They are, too. I’ve seen them, they just wander around the farmyard climbing on things and picking stuff up the ground. These are very active turkeys.) “The breed is just…heirloom….we didn’t expect…” He made vague gestures, not unlike those most of us make when trying to describe my friend Carlota. (The “vast tracts of land” gesture. You know the one.) “The live weight on the things is forty-nine pounds.”

This is a large animal. This is a bird substantially larger than our beagle. Kevin, who had been thinking of deep-frying the turkey, realized that it wouldn’t actually fit in the pot. I vetoed any notion of getting a 55-gallon drum of our own.

Kevin said that we’d warn our family.

“Could you ask them invite a few strangers?” asked the farmer hopefully. “Maybe…twenty or so…?”

God help us all.


*You scald fowl in boiling water prior to plucking to loosen the feathers, as I understand it, although someone may correct me if I’ve got the wrong end of the bird there.

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.

You know, if there is a homeless shelter

in your area, those birds would be very welcome. They will probably need to be quartered to bake them, but wow. What lot of great meat.

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Bwahahahaha....that's one scary sounding turkey. I think we found the animal to use against Giant Platypus in the next Syfy original film.

Turkeiosaurus vs Giant Platypus

Holy f*cking sh*t that's a BIG turkey!
What the hell!?!?

Soooo... It comes with how many cubic yards of stuffing and drums of gravy?

Now picturing Mount Stuffing in the yard next to Mount Mulch.

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Or possibly a bonfire at this rate.

Hmm, I wonder if it's possible to clay-bake a turkey and, if so, for how long.

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I am not actually surprised by this. I have seen wild turkeys, and they are holy-shit-did-you-see-that-thing style huge. The ones in our area regularly used to make the deer back off the spilled birdseed in the yard. So it's no real stretch of the imagination to think about farm turkeys growing massive and meaty.

Huh. The wild turkeys where I grew up (southwest Virginia) were nowhere near huge, even by average grocery-store standards. The one I particularly remember from a childhood Thanksgiving was under ten pounds dressed, I think. We had eight or nine people and it was entirely gone by the end of dinner.

Could he cut them in half length wise (so that each half has a breast and a drumstick)? I have done that with turkeys from the store. I get the butcher to cut it in half, cook half for Thanksgiving and half for Christmas.

I don't know if he can, but Kevin may have to for dinner!

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Wow. You're going to need a firepit. Either that or a bigger oven! That sounds even bigger than the turkeys my grandmother used to bake when we had the cousins over and she put those in the oven at three in the morning so they'd be cooked by noon.

Every holiday can be improved with the addition of a firepit, IMNSHO... :D

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Yes, you scald fowl. It's messy and smelly, and a whole lot better than using just the wax method.
If I might suggest building a temporary fire pit and spit roasting it?
Also, what is the breed of that bird?

That I don't know...I'll ask next time. They're mostly white with grey heads, although I know that doesn't narrow it down at all.

OTOH if your oven will fit the bird it does nicely give you that Norman Rockwell illustration effect. DH loves roasting the larger turkeys; I can say from personal experience that something that big will be hard to cook evenly (we were famous at our poultry supplier for getting the biggest bird they sold one year.) 35 lbs is the sweet spot for turkeys that are huge yet easy to cook well in our experience.

Fortunately leftover turkey is the yum. I highly recommend Hot Browns as one of the after T-day meals. http://www.brownhotel.com/dining-hot-brown.htm

Oh, gosh, those hot browns sound absolutely sinful. What a wonderful idea for leftovers! And yes, 35 pounds sounds like what Grandma always aimed for when I was a kid, but she was feeding a minimum of 9 kids and anywhere from 5 to 9 adults most holidays.

The first year my Mom cooked the turkey, it came out looking like a Norman Rockwell illustration, but it was raw in the middle. The guests dined on all the side dishes and had the turkey for supper a couple of hours later, by which time the exterior was falling apart.

o.O cluck cluck CLUCK!

Bon voyage!^^

It sounds like 'heirloom' is code for 'someone set the dormant velociraptor gene to On.' You will be eating turkey sandwiches until June.

Now that's a thought... although an army of genengineered turkey-raptors would not only be terrifying but hilarious.

How well does turkey ship? 'Cause this Dragonbreath Fan would be happy to take some off your hands. Especially if you jerked it.

Turkeys ship poorly. Most fanfic writers tend towards the more flamboyant (and somewhat bishi) pheasants, or occasionally ducks, but only in the pervier slashfics.

The fact that these things actually happen, and the way Ursula tells the stories so well... it could almost be a sitcom script.

Also, I am not surprised at the size of that turkey. My father, a stone sculptor, was confronted by a random turkey in the backyard, while Dad was carving a large piece of marble. As the turkey started to come at him, on the attack, he threw a sculpting hammer at it, which bounced off its chest while the turkey did the turkey equivalent of a raised eyebrow and a smirk. My dad had a chunk of marble in hand, ready to defend himself if necessary. Our cat, Muffin, who was allowed outdoors at the time, was the one who saved the day. She came howling and screaming, the turkey was completely dumbfounded, and Muffin began to chase the turkey. She chased the bird up the side of the house, pacing and snarling while the very bemused giant monster turkey tried to find a way off the roof without being clawed to death by a ten-pound calico with a temper.
This was in the mid-1990s. Dad remembers every detail. The turkey probably weighed around, oh, sixty pounds, maybe.

*giggles* yeah, that's similar to the story my guy tells about his dad coming home from the aluminum refinery and being attacked on the porch by the 50 pound "guard turkey". Said turkey hit the freezer a couple days later.

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They make miniature turkeys! It's an endangered farm breed, no less! I...can't remember the name, sadly.

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