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Rethinking bird day

I don't know why, because I don't do bird day, and haven't for 26 years this coming November, but for some odd reason I clicked on the "THANKSGIVING" link at the top of the page these days.

There's a slide show going on and something flashed past that looked like a mutant lobster or maybe a giant pill bug in a roasting pan. Just caught it out of the corner of my eye and then it was gone. So of course I had to go through the slideshow to track it down.


OMG! I may have to totally rethink my take on bird day! They should have titled it "How to overcome Turkey's Low Fat, Healthful Reputation"

I won't be doing a bird this year despite the temptation that picture presents. But if someone else were to make it, I wouldn't turn my nose up at trying a few bites . . .

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  1. For years, I fixed seafood on Thanksgiving, just to be contrary. Plus it was a good excuse to spend the money on lobster or big scallops, since it was a holiday.
    If I wanted turkey, I just roasted a breast anytime during the year.
    But then one year when the kids were little, I made a turkey and stuffing... and found out that I love turkey broth made from the roasted carcass, the pan drippings, and all the overdone bits of wings and legs that stuck out. I make chicken broth regularly, and finally noticed that turkey broth has such a rich flavor in comparison. So I make a turkey every year mostly for the soup afterward.

    And you're right - that picture of the pill bug looks like it would be amazing. Bacon on turkey? Somebody's a genius.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jmcarthur8

      My favorite soup in the world, bar absolutely none, is Turkey and Wild Rice Soup. There is just nothing like it in terms of flavor and richness, is there?

      1. re: mamachef

        mamachef, the wild rice sounds great in the turkey soup. I am definitely going to try that. I usually ladle the soup over cooked rotelle or fusilli - they stay nice and firm and don't get mushy like noodles.
        My mother's turkey soup has tomato puree, broccolli, cauliflower, mushrooms and white rice, it's a whole different taste and very good.

    2. Uff Da, ok. Yup, take off the legs n wings, and it looks like the bug you mentioned that I can't bring myself to say. Now I suppose someone will get on me for not being willing to even TRY eating them. Turkey barded w/ bacon seems like a fabulous idea and I'm prolly going to steal it this year, since Oh Happy Day I haven't handed the torch to Lauren yet, and Mike and Danny show zero interest.
      Thanksgiving dinner used to be a source of so much conflict (who's hosting? what are they making? who's coming? is it the same menu as last year? Will Uncle Pete get loaded and cry at the dinner table again?) that one year my parents got completely sick of it, so they made fantastic turkey sandwiches, loaded us into the car, and took us to a drive-in movie. The only problem was, no leftovers, but then Mom went ahead and made a classic dinner about a week later, so it was all good....she could actually knock out a pretty good Txgiving meal despite her other culinary shortcomings. Except for the gravy. She never got the knack of gravy or truly understood that it's NOT better if it's lumpy - but the rest was pretty good.

      1. Zen, I cooked a batch of Quail for Thanksgiving a few years ago and put everyone into a state of shock. However, they were converts by the end of the dinner. A fun, tasty alternative to a giant bird filled with chemicals.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Leper

          Oooh, I like it! Individual mini-turkeys! LOL!

          That's one way to make sure everybody gets a drumstick, AND a wishbone!

        2. I love Turkey, My ex-wife and her family hated Turkey. So on Thanksgiving, I used to RFoast a turkey with all the trimmings for my side of the family and serve a lasagne for her side opf the family. Same salad, dinner rolls, red wine and fresh fruit for dessert.................

          1. It was something like a year ago that the bacon-turkey had a permanent niche as a thumbnail on Chow. At the thumbnail resolution it looked even more like bug.

            6 Replies
              1. re: paulj

                To me that photo looked like an armadillo...

                  1. re: vafarmwife

                    But it's BACON flavored! EVERYTHING's better with bacon!

                    First they invented turkey bacon - now there's BACON TURKEY!

                  2. re: Tripeler

                    There are at least two threads on Site Talk decrying that horrible thumbnail and pleading for its removal.

                  3. re: paulj

                    That stupid turkey-bug picture on the right side of the screen last year still haunts me.

                    T-Day at Casa Jfood is one I love since Mrs Jfood is in 5th gear making all kinds of stuff. I love dark meat turkey, dressing and gravy.

                  4. I keep coming back to this recipe. I'm seriously tempted. Does anybody know where you would get perry? Is it very expensive? Would a pear wine work as well?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ZenSojourner

                      I think pear wine would work beautifully in this, ZS. And when you succumb to temptation, I want a picture of your finished product.

                      1. re: ZenSojourner

                        Any well-stocked liquor store should have perry cider ready and waiting for you. My favorite is Strongbow. Around here, a 6-pack of bottles goes for about $12. Pear wine might come out a little different but still tasty.

                      2. All of us; the Men in my Family got to rethink Turkey thanx to my new girl !! She slow cooked it on charcoal ! The lid stayed closed which was enough to get us cave dwellers off the porch and check her out ! We favored grilling; i.e. massacuring meat to a slow cooked meat. Boy did we learn something. It was pretty hilarious to see us snooping around the grill to see what the hell she was doing. Nearly 4 hours later the best damn turkey was had by all. Amazingly, it didn't have that overbearing smoky flavor. No wood, just charcoal. I'm never buying a gas grill again thanx to my lady!

                        31 Replies
                        1. re: Retroh777

                          I've been cooking turkey like that for about 20 years :)

                          1. re: c oliver

                            barding birds before roasting dates back hundreds of years and can be found in lots of different cultures - it keeps the breast meat from drying out before the dark meat is done.

                            I'll grant you, though -- it's not the most attractive photo! I think for the sake of looks, I'd take the barding off a few minutes before the bird was done and properly brown the breast meat in the oven.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              It looks a little funky, yet immediately I thought what a great idea! Now I'm reconsidering that wondering if the flavor of the bacon would overwhelm the flavor or the turkey?

                              1. re: cgarner

                                I would think that a lightly smoked bacon (maybe applewood or something a little less assertive than hickory) would complement the turkey nicely.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  or not smoked at all, like pancetta to give the nice fat and flavor but no smoke
                                  I have a pretty killer brine that I do that gives nice flavor... I don't want to lose that

                                2. re: cgarner

                                  Wait . . . turkey HAS flavor? Of it's own, you mean????

                                  LOL! (JK)

                                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                                    it does, if you don't buy a mass-produced frozen block of salty ice.

                                    Find yourself a fresh turkey - one that's been allowed to walk around outside if possible -- and you'll be amazed at the difference.

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      I've had them. Really not that great. I'm just not a lover of turkey.

                                      1. re: ZenSojourner

                                        Well then, I guess you've answered you own OP :)

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          Ah, but everything's better with bacon!

                                          And anything cooked in Booze has GOT to be good! Well, good-ish, anyway.

                                          It raises the possibility of imparting some actual flavor to the ubiquitous bird.

                                          1. re: ZenSojourner

                                            If you don't like turkey, then for God's sake eat something else. It's not like the Pilgrim police are going to come lock you up.

                                            Some of us like it, some of us don't. Carry on.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              Go Authentic:
                                              Foods That May Have Been on the Menu:

                                              SEAFOOD: Cod, Eel, Clams, Lobster
                                              WILD FOWL: Wild Turkey, Goose, Duck, Crane, Swan, Partridge, Eagles (don't eat an Eagle, please!)
                                              MEAT: Venison, Seal (ok, no eating any endagered species)
                                              GRAIN: Wheat Flour, Indian Corn
                                              VEGETABLES: Pumpkin, Peas, Beans, Onions, Lettuce, Radishes, Carrots
                                              FRUIT: Plums, Grapes
                                              NUTS: Walnuts, Chestnuts, Acorns
                                              HERBS AND SEASONINGS: Olive Oil, Liverwort, Leeks, Dried Currants, Parsnips

                                              1. re: cgarner

                                                Many choices. Why do turkey if you don't like turkey?!?

                                                I'm considering a dinner out in DC that includes an oyster roast!

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  my traditional menu includes dressing made with fat, juicy oysters. It's the yum.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    Oh yes... that's the secret of a good well-made dressing.
                                                    When else can we savor the flavors and textures
                                                    of cornbread, oysters, celery, sage, onions, and sausage?
                                                    It's the reason we clasp hands, bow heads, and say Blessing.

                                                    1. re: FoodFuser

                                                      No sausage in mine, and hearty sourdough instead of cornbread....but yeah -- I make a huge dish just because *I* get the leftovers!

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        There are few things as pleasured with utter delight
                                                        as leftover dressing that's nuked late at night.
                                                        When topped with a glop of cooled congealed gravy
                                                        that melts to the dressing, satisfying late-night cravies.

                                                        We might add a slab of sliced turkey
                                                        and even a bit of sweetened cranberry,
                                                        But it's really the oystered-up dressing that's Boss.

                                              2. re: sunshine842

                                                Goodness, can't win around here! You get criticized for not being willing to try something new, and you get criticized for being WILLING to try something different!


                                                No, I don't care much for turkey. I generally find it bland and unappealing when prepared "traditionally". Why that translates in some people's minds to "shouldn't ever try it a different way and see how THAT tastes", I cannot imagine.

                                                1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                  What you like or don't like on your Thanksgiving table doesn't affect me in the slightest bit.

                                                  But you came on, said you don't like turkey...we gave a few suggestions, and you continued to say you find it bland and unappealing, so several of us collectively gave up trying to defend our beloved bird....then you got upset because we told you not to have turkey.

                                                  You can win around here, but not when you play a quarter on both teams.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    Actually I haven't been upset at all. Some people just have no sense of humor!

                                                    I don't much care for turkey, as I have said, but I would like to try it prepared this way and see if I care for this. I don't know whether or not I'll get the chance, but I'd like to give it a shot. Without your approval will be fine with me.


                                                    1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                      I say you should go full-bore authentic as cgarner suggests above, and make your centerpiece bird a Stuffed Eagle.

                                                      You could even give your eagle the bacon treatment; because, if you're going to eat an eagle, then you should ensure that it's not a dry eagle...

                                                      1. re: deet13

                                                        Sadly, Bald Eagles have little to offer.
                                                        Once you strip off the feathers, there's not really much meat there.

                                                        But their beaks and their talons are great in the stockpot, to give gelatin.

                                                        Ben Franklin had foresight, though he argued unheard,
                                                        that the Turkey should become our national bird.

                                                        1. re: FoodFuser

                                                          When read in iambic pentameter,
                                                          your posts are proven forum beaters.... :)

                                                          1. re: deet13

                                                            At least it's not Egg-Beaters,
                                                            which, lacking the yolk,
                                                            would preclude us from discussing, on this thread of the bird.

                                                            "I am Bic" ? Ballpoint pens? Cigarette lighters?
                                                            And "Pentameter" connotes locus of our military.

                                                            Since Egg-Beaters lack yolk, I appreciate your joke,
                                                            as long as, on topic, we don't flip the bird.

                                                        2. re: deet13

                                                          No no no, remember, he said no endangered species.

                                                          Maybe vulture instead . . . .

                                                        3. re: ZenSojourner

                                                          why don't you try just buying a turkey breast? It would be smaller, and is the only part that gets barded anyway...then if you still don't like it, you're not pitching an entire bird.

                                                          (Most folks tell me I have a great sense of humor, by the way - an awful lot of the nuances of humor are lost when you have nothing more than a few flickering pixels with which to express it.)

                                                          1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                            Turkey mole, the real 'Merican food. Been here 3000 years.

                                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                              While turkeys are native to much of USA, domesticated turkeys come from stock developed in Europe from birds brought from Mexico by the Spanish.

                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                Thanks to good wildlife management
                                                                we've certainly restored
                                                                populations of Turkeys,
                                                                which Ben Franklin adored.

                                                                I've seen 'em in flock
                                                                as they bandy about
                                                                but as of yet
                                                                have not taken a shot.

                                                                Just call me crazy
                                                                but I really believe
                                                                this wild versus farmed
                                                                dilemma is best solved
                                                                with the simple addition of larding.

                                                                And gravy.

                                                                When you can deliver to me
                                                                a Freshly-Shot Heritage Bird that ran free
                                                                that comes in at least less than a dollar a pound,
                                                                I'll accept it, and endeavour to pry out the buckshot.

                                                                But still, I will baste it, and give it some lard.

                                                                And my general direction
                                                                goes toward needle injection
                                                                of a rich mix of spices
                                                                that the hypo affords.

                                        2. re: sunshine842

                                          Being Bard-less and basteless
                                          and some might say tasteless
                                          I nevertheless have a secret in hand.

                                          I inject the fowl
                                          with wide needle
                                          to send down the oil and juice.

                                          Then, draped with some bacon
                                          I send it to bakin'.

                                          To bard by syringe,
                                          while some might well cringe,
                                          is a way to get juices down in there.

                                          If breast isn't succulent
                                          then I've really not done it.
                                          I seek the sweet treat of
                                          that dripping white meat.

                                          The thighs are a whole different number.

                                    2. Thanksgiving in Canada is first weekend in October. I have a Weber Smoker and I smoked a fresh turkey. Since the smoker takes a long time I decided to cut the backbone out of the turkey to see if it would shorten the cooking time a little. It was great, much more evenly cooked. It made me think that same technique would work with oven roasting. I did not flatten the turkey out, as I have seen recommended in some current cooking magazines (spatchcocking) simply cut out the backbone and pulled it apart a little.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: stanleyd

                                        I spatchcocked mine last year, and got a perfect turkey in amazingly little time. Seasoned all over, laid on top of chopped onions, celery and carrot. The vegetables were afterwards puréed in a bowl via stick blender with stock to make the gravy, giblets added later. Good, but the carrot made it a tad sweet, so this year I might use a couple of parsnips instead.

                                      2. I'm sticking with Spaghetti alla Carbonara, in solidarity with Calvin Trillin :-).

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: greygarious

                                          Ah, simplicity of career as a wood-cutting carbonara
                                          the daily task of turning that wood into charcoal.
                                          All alone with those pasta and cream and those eggs
                                          May we bet Putanesca might''ve danced to his head?

                                          1. My Grandpa Kuntz made a bacon-wrapped turkey on one of the few TGs we were at their place (usually went to the other GPs). I do not know if it was his own idea or if he'd seen a recipe or suggestion, but it was awfully good. This would have been ca. 1955... Too bad we lived so far away; I'd love to have been around to help with the leftovers!

                                            1. My mother used to cover the top of the whole turkey with a carefully draped remnant of my father's worn-out and extremely washed boxers, soaked in butter. She basted it every half hour with butter, then with drippings once there were enough to squirt over the bird. Her bacon, mushroom and turkey liver stuffing was the bomb!
                                              I still do mine the same way, EXCEPT that I use a couple layers of cheesecloth instead of anyone's boxers! About a half hour before the bird is done, I give it one last basting to loosen up the cloth and remove that after letting it sit five or ten minutes, then add one more squirt of drippings.
                                              Golden, greasy, delicious...that's how you get the perfect turkey.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                LOL! That's certainly one way to dress the turkey!

                                                1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                  My mom did the same thing with sweetly washed muslin
                                                  that had never been used as a loincloth.

                                                  It seems she preferred
                                                  that her annual bird

                                                  see baste butter through muslin,
                                                  loomed, spun, delivered as absolute virgin.
                                                  It's perhaps your Dad's undies
                                                  encountered a turd.

                                                  Barders with bacon, or butter, whatever
                                                  must keep to the the teach
                                                  that the cloth ain't seen breech.

                                                  1. re: FoodFuser

                                                    laughing and gagging simultaneously is painful.

                                                    1. re: FoodFuser

                                                      Love it! Puns and poetry do my heart good.

                                                  2. oh yeah, the bacon-wrapped turkey-armadillo-bug-of-some-prehistoric-sort has a cult following! http://www.chow.com/galleries/51/holi...

                                                    to get it OFF of chowhound!

                                                    1. I have a weakness for British murder mysteries and I was watching season 13 episode 1 of A Touch of Frost today. At about 12:45 (12 mins 45 secs) into the show, Frost is draping bacon over a small turkey or a large chicken.

                                                      Art imitates life! LOL!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                        I too have an ache-ing
                                                        for bacon displayed as a part of
                                                        the larding and basting event.

                                                        Enriching with fattiness the dryness of fowl
                                                        is a chorus of millions coming to the event.

                                                        The National Bird can be raised cooked displayed
                                                        in so many ways it intrigue us.

                                                        But whether a Butterball
                                                        or a Free-Ranging Heritage
                                                        We all search for tips to deliver the feast.

                                                        There's Drapers, there's Larders
                                                        and them who well think
                                                        that four sticks of butter will do the fat trick.

                                                        Whether bacon draped over the bird is the best,
                                                        or a full pound of butter massaged on the breast
                                                        Or Heaven forbid the depravity
                                                        of fats pushed deep into the cavity...

                                                        We must give a good sway
                                                        to what recipes might say
                                                        And serve to our families our best.

                                                        They're gonna consume it
                                                        ravish it, reduce it
                                                        To where there will be
                                                        loving leftovers next day.

                                                        So be not concerned,
                                                        be ye Barders, or Larders
                                                        or Drapers or Rakes who stuff cavities

                                                        They're gonna eat Bird
                                                        no matter how served.

                                                        Good Gravy can serve as a bridge introduction
                                                        With taters been mashed to be spread with the turkey.

                                                        Bird... taters... gravy...
                                                        and yet unspoken beauties
                                                        of addition
                                                        of choice of some good tart cranberries.

                                                      2. I like the idea of cooking a special dish on Thanksgiving that has an affinity to your cultural background (whether by birth or adoption). Simple ideas: Italian - lasgna; South Asian: Tandoori or a fancy biryani; Mexican- enchiladas or a wonderful soup or stew, etc, etc, etc. I think Thanksgiving could be much more meaningful and exciting to the taste buds that way.

                                                        1. I'm still undecided. Last year a dozen lobsters and a few pounds of scallops. Living In NM now and I've got an elk roast in the freezer. May go ethnic.
                                                          I'm bummed that this will be the first Thanksgiving that I'll be celebrating with out any of our 5 kids, in 30 years.
                                                          On the other hand, 43 years ago I ate a c-ration of cold chicken inside N Vietnam on Thanksgiving, so I am very thankful to be celabrating at all.
                                                          Thanksgiving is a tough time for folks in the military. I say a prayer for their safe and speedy return to loved ones.
                                                          ps I may still make the long drive to Austin to be w/ my daughter & family. So far.

                                                          feelin' so old.