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Author Topic: Preparing you Thanksgiving Turkey...from barnyard to kitchen table  (Read 2342 times)
Brian D. Bray
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« on: November 25, 2010, 01:40:36 AM »

I just finished dressing (actually it's undressing) a turkey for tomorrow's Thanksgiving dinner.

Though to late to be useful for this Thanksgiving it might be handy information come Christmas, new year or anytime a fresh turkey dinner is contemplated.  

I thought it might be useful to relate how it was done over a century ago. According to those in my life who were born prior to 1880 this is the way it should be done.
1. Using a slip hook* catch the chosen turkey by one foot.
2. Carry turkey from the yard by holding it by both feet in the left hand (right hand if left handed).
3. Stretch turkeys head and neck across top of chopping block.
4. Sever head with swift blow with a sharp hatch (my choice) or axe (harder to wield).
5. When birds stops thrashing hang it by its feet from hook, limb, or gambrel.
6. As bird finishes bleeding out, remove larger flight and tail feathers using pliers or other grasping implement.
7. While so engaged it might be noted that upon completion of bleed out, the muscles will relax and the wings and feathers will drop.
8. Begin removing body feathers by grasping handfuls and pulling downward.  (feathers naturally lean [flow] from the head towards the tail so the feathers are being pulled against the grain.  Pulling them in direction of flow causes the skin to act as a clap grasping the feathers harder).
9.Once feathers are removed use a torch (I use a propane torch but twisted newspaper works well too)to singe to remove hairs and scale.
10.  Remove singed hair and scale by scrubbing with a vegetable brush under running water.
11. From a spot between the shoulders cut a slit skin deep to the end of the neck and trim wattle or feathers still attached to neck end.
12. Skin neck back to shoulder and sever neck at shoulder joint (or as close to it as you can get) and place neck aside. Remove crop.
13. From rear if of breast bone make slit skin deep down to and around the anus and remove entrails setting aside gizzard, heart, and liver with neck.
14. Rinse body cavity with cold running water again using vegetable brush on skin.  
15. Inspect for and remove and missed pin feathers.
16. Rub carcass with seasonings of choice and chill until cooking time.

Notice there is no boiling water mentioned.  Contrary to popular belief hot water makes plucking a chicken or turkey harder by setting the muscle and not letting them relax and making them hot, wet, and oily.

*a slip hook is a long slender  Shepard's hook shaped hook about 3/4-1 inch wide X 2inches with a flared tip that is used to catch poultry. Using a metal rod, like those used for welding, bend it into a narrow ? shape and attach to a 3-4 foot handle.  The depth of the hook should be 2-3 inches from mouth to bend.
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Life is a school.  What have you learned?   Brian      The greatest danger to our society is apathy, vote in every election!
JP
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« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2010, 06:29:09 AM »

Thanks for posting this Brian, Annette was asking me how one does this just the other day in case she decides to give up the vegetarian life style.  grin

Hey Annette  Kiss


...JP
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Scadsobees
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« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2010, 12:20:03 AM »

My sister and brother in law harvested a couple of turkeys a few years back, it was their first time.  It wasn't pretty, and by b-i-l had tears in his eyes after the killing...I suppose you gotta learn somehow...
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« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2010, 02:16:30 AM »

My 1-5 involves getting up before daylight and slipping quietly into the spring woods with shotgun in hand. One has not lived until one hears our finest game bird sound off on a fine spring morning and then matching wits with him with your own imitations of a love sick hen. Fairly called fairly earned.
BTW, not to argue but with several hundred birds processed of all poultry types there are only two ways in my book dipped in scalding water and plucked or skinned out. I've tried not scalding and it is harder and more prone to skin tears. Quail and dove are the only easy ones without water. The trick is hot enough to loosen feathers but not hot enough to cook the bird. Just my experience.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2010, 11:54:18 PM »

My 1-5 involves getting up before daylight and slipping quietly into the spring woods with shotgun in hand. One has not lived until one hears our finest game bird sound off on a fine spring morning and then matching wits with him with your own imitations of a love sick hen. Fairly called fairly earned.
BTW, not to argue but with several hundred birds processed of all poultry types there are only two ways in my book dipped in scalding water and plucked or skinned out. I've tried not scalding and it is harder and more prone to skin tears. Quail and dove are the only easy ones without water. The trick is hot enough to loosen feathers but not hot enough to cook the bird. Just my experience.

Okay, we won't argue, we'll have a discussion or debate instead. 
I should point out that "dipped in scalding water and plucked or skinned out." is actually three ways.  Scalded, plucked, or skinned.  Scalded has been the accepted method for many decades but in my experience allowing the bird to completely bleed, removing the larger flight and tail feathers first, and then pluckung the carcass once the muscles have relaxed posted beheading, is just as easy as plucking a quail or dove.  Now if the bird was field harvested it has not been bled out and has already had its skin perferated by several lead pellets, in which case scalding might be the only option  other than skinning.  If skinned the onl feathers that need to be removed are the large flight and tail fathers, the rest are removed still in embedded in the skin.


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The method I described was for a freshly killed farm raised turkey.  But it works for any freshly killed bled out fowl from turkey to dove, and makes the plucking of each about equal in labor discounting the size of the carcass and ends with a very nicely plucked bird with no skin tears unless inflicked by a miswielded knife while dressing out the carcass.   But when it comes to quail, pigeon or dove, the only parts worth harvesting are the breast, heart, and gizzard so plucking more than the breast area is a waste of time.
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« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2010, 09:05:32 AM »

Just a comment, not a debate or anything (havent had my morning coffee yet) but if you really want a good bleed out, take a sharp knife (I use a scapel that I bought from a farm store) and slit an artery in its neck. The heart continues to do its job until its empty making for a more efficient bleed. I used to do the old axe on a stump trick but not anymore.
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annette
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« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2010, 09:14:14 PM »

Thanks for posting this Brian, Annette was asking me how one does this just the other day in case she decides to give up the vegetarian life style.  grin

Hey Annette  Kiss


...JP

Ha Ha JP!! You wish!! Actually I made a Tofurkey for Thanksgiving and didn't have to catch anything.
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JP
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« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2010, 10:30:17 PM »

Yeah Annette, it was probably real good too, kinda sorta maybe even tasted a little like turkey.  grin


...JP
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annette
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« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2010, 10:31:42 PM »

Do you think I have turkey envy!!!
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« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2010, 08:08:54 AM »

Yeah Annette, it was probably real good too, kinda sorta maybe even tasted a little like turkey.  grin


...JP

Prolly more like grass with a sleight dirt aftertaste  grin
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annette
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« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2010, 09:43:12 PM »

NOT!!!
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JP
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« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2010, 08:07:58 PM »

Do you think I have turkey envy!!!

I would have to think so my darling gal, ain't nothing quite as good as the real thing!  grin


...JP
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annette
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« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2010, 01:26:06 PM »

Nah, never liked turkey even when I was a meat eater. I used to feed the dog and cat under the table when my mother served it to me.

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