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.