NEW LOOK AT HOLIDAY TURKEY  🦃 



NEW TURKEY LOOK AT HOLIDAYS 

👺  Warning:   Turkeys And Salmonella  —  Here’s a guide you can use to ensure that your family and friends don’t remember the year you hosted Thanksgiving as the year everyone got sick.

Thawing the turkey and the two-day rule.   Buying your turkey early?  Better keep your bird frozen until you are ready to thaw or you may be on your way to the grocery store for a new one, according to Hanes.

"Once a frozen turkey is thawed, it should be cooked within two days," Hanes said. She said some people prefer a fresh turkey, so they should plan on waiting to pick it up from the store until one or two days before they plan to cook it.

It takes 24 hours for every four to five pounds of turkey to thaw, according to the USDA.  USDA guidelines guidelines on refrigerator thawing times:
4 to 12 pounds — 1 to 3 days
12 to 16 pounds — 3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds — 4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds —5 to 6 days

You can thaw your turkey in the refrigerator, or if you are strapped for time, you can use the microwave or run cold water over the wrapped bird in a sink.


🦃  How do I know if the turkey is spoiled?  Maybe you left your turkey in the fridge for a week, or it sat in your trunk in the garage for a few hours, regardless you should be wary of using the product. 

Many times people can tell if a turkey is spoiled by the "texture and smell" of the turkey.
The skin of the turkey may become slimy
The smell is often described as "rotten eggs or like sulfur."  
It gets trickier with detecting food borne pathogens .  “You can’t see, taste or smell food borne pathogens, so if E. coli, Salmonella or Staph are on the turkey, you wouldn't know it," she said.


🦃  To wash or not to wash?​    Don't wash your turkey. While many people might think that rinsing the turkey will remove bacteria from the bird, nothing could be farther from the truth, according to the USDA.  "Juices that splash during washing can transfer bacteria onto the surfaces of your kitchen, other foods and utensils. This is called cross-contamination, which can make you and your guests very sick," according to the USDA.
Make sure that all surfaces and plates that come into contact with the raw turkey are sanitized and make sure to wash your hands.

Doesn’t matter if it wiggles, or jiggles like it should, the bird has to be 165 degrees. Regardless of whether your turkey is the perfect shade of brown or if the drumsticks jiggle, the bird is not safe until it reaches 165 degrees, according to the USDA. Use a food thermometer to check the bird in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost parts of the wing and the bird's thigh.

No, we aren't done yet. Leftovers:   Leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours of eating and should be safe for three to four days after your meal. If you freeze your turkey, it should be ok for two to six months.



SMART SHOPPING, GREAT BUY, UTILIZATION 

And Some Honest Answers  


Two Kinds Of Disassembly Instructions  —  The Johnny Five and Spatch-Cocking —   

🦃  Thanksgiving, and Christmas time are excellent shopping times for us in Tampa Bay, the three major Grocery chains all pull out their stops on the turkeys and sell off the underling herd of turkeys at very almost extreme giveaways to get you in their doors.   They’ll make better profits all the stuff you buy to go along with the bird.

🦃  Its like buying a color printer, the machine is not that expensive but you’ll go broke with ink cartridges.   Giveaway turkeys in your grocery store at 79-89 cents a pound are Corporate Turkeys and not to be confused with Butterballs or other national brands.

🦃  These turkeys were not the ones in the famous Norman Rockwell painters with Mom presenting the beautifully tanned bird to the family table.  These were genetically fast raised for the season, they are in abundance and a seven dollar turkey can be had for 7 dollars.    

🦃  These are fast grown more like a fryer,  versus a carefully treated slow grown 24 pounder from Butterball.  It is truly Corpo-Guano grown for the money.   Weeks not months

🦃  I’ll explain further why I changed direction on Turkey.   I used to buy a half dozen of these birds and kept them in my deep freeze for months.  But those sale birds are exactly what you paid for… low end young birds who stay all day in coops or small pens and meant to be genetically altered.   I do what I have to do for the holiday and after that I’m not a big turkey fan.  I can get a Boars Head Breast or similar cooked and sliced with no work, anytime and GFS slices it for me.

🦃  These young birds are grown specifically in as little as eight weeks, super fed and limited ranging or exercise produces bigger breast and smaller legs for the retail market as a draw.  They also are stuffed  and contain 12-15% water injected.  And they just do not taste like a Butterball.  They taste like  seven-twelve dollar turkey.



Spatchcocking   And Johnny Five —    TECHNIQUES and ADVANTAGES

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NOTE :  There is no cleanup, in either method since all the cutting is done up front.   Both cook under fast intense heat, and both work, for me it depends on the size of the bird.

🦃  Step One —  I have no patience for guts, I was at times in a test kitchen, a mad scientists paradise, a Valhalla of scary stuff — and you would be surprised what the guts will grow

Sorry Norman Rockwell, the guts, gimlets and goblets and any other internals go to the dumpster. I have little patience when doing all the cooking and cleaning the mess, it’s all business. 

Clinically rewrapped guts and secure,  actually triple wrapped to discourage the coyotes, alligators and others
( raccoons can open anything) that think,  they own the golf course and the dumpsters from 180 condos.  

I can disassemble and prep a bird cleanly in under twenty minutes and have no use for stock made from a bird that strolled in dirt and only god know what it has eaten.    And it's simple, if the grandkids saw the guts, we would be back to Mac and Cheese. 


🦃   Step Two — The Obvious — Our tribe — I have found, with kids they grab the legs and never finish them, and the same for the wings or thighs because most cooking techniques dry them out, so they were removed.  They all want the White meat and slobbered in  gravy.    

2A —  Not worth the effort —  If you choose to go traditional Norman Rockwell go for it.  It seems again, time proven picky Kids on the legs will, usually take one bite and dump the leg.

2B — First we have to either Spatch cock the Turkey or Johnny- Five it   - My cooking  technique changed three years ago when I learned about Spatchcocking from a show on TV .  The term “ Spatchcock” is believed to have come from Ireland or Scotland while they were living in castles  and having big parties, and is shortened from”Dispatching the Cock” or flattening the bigger birds.  Flat birds on a wood fire cooked evenly instead of the variance when the bird is Vertical

2C —  Males are larger and called Cocks and Females are smaller and called Hens. This was so more of them would fit in the oven, which was fire, wood driven, and as many as ten birds at a time were cooked, and cooked evenly for those big rowdy feasts.   

2D —  On turkeys, after I Spatchcock the turkey the parts are placed on two flat baking pans and 400 - 450 degrees for an hour or so.    

2E —  When I dissect, the bird I remove the wings, legs, drumettes other small parts and they all go into a slow cooker or pot of broth or stock and cooked till the meat can be removed or falls off the bones.  
Pitch the bones, the meat is going into a stewpot, pot pie or slow cooker into barbecue — 
ZERO WASTE

2F —  The breasts were removed and placed on a tray separated by foil as I prepped the two like roasts making them Regular ( usual ingredients salt, pepper, garlic onion, paprika  rosemary, thyme, sage etc)  and Spicy ( Usual plus Cajun, or Sriracha and same thing as paying five times as much for trimmed breasts alone.   

2G —  All the small spare meat around the breast and bones were surgically removed and placed in the slow cooker or stew pot cooked into the soup.  We took as much small meat off the wings, legs and thighs and throw them into the stew pot till the meat falls off,  don’t dump any remaining bones.   I took a third of that meat that was pulled and cooked into barbecue sauce. ( Like pulled chicken only turkey) That the kids will eat on submarine rolls.

 2H  —  To the remaining chicken or turkey broth soup  I added two packages of frozen Sam’s mixed veggies, mandolin thin sliced potatoes and tomato paste, diced and sauce, the usual spices. a thickener like flour or arrowroot, and Herbs de Provence and some other goodies and we netted four quarts of thick soup, it’s a wholesome soup, some barbecue and two big turkey breasts which is all they eat anyway.  VPC (Very Picky Crew)

Last point: This methodology is not for tradition, its for 100% usage of the turkey, easy to do , less cleanup and no Norman Rockwell’s live in my house,  I cook to eat.  


SPATCHCOCKED MODERN TURKEY


 🦃  Spatchcocking A Turkey Is Just A Smarter Method  — Non-Traditional 

  • During Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas or any other family and friends occasion we are reminded of the great times we have had and the great food we have enjoyed together.  Most great visuals of the food part of the Holidays depict a traditional cooking exercise, with MOM starring in the Norman Rockwell posed with browned turkey on the platter approaching the table a classic example of Americana.

  • There are a nearly endless supply of ways to cook a turkey.
  Most are methods passed down from generations and strict rules apply. Mostly for personal adoration, the new method of spatchcocking is for personal ease.  Speed, better taste and common sense.  Since I’m doing ninety percent of the work.

  •  Traditionalist thinking worked when families all lived within cab distance of where you live — Today families and extended families  all come together the day of the feast and you rarely get the help you need — I never let my guard down and do thing s my way — Spatchcocking saves me hours of prep and clean up.

  • Some people want the perfect golden brown centerpiece, we call it the Norman Rockwell method. Fine. it was More for thanks and credit to MOM than common sense cooking about the bird.

  • Some deep dip the turkey in boiling oil, AKA the Redneck Oil Cooker and deep fry it outdoors in the back yard.  We had witnessed two fires that made the TV when the thing got knocked over and almost took a house out.

  •  Some others care only for the breast meat and pay a ridiculous premium for the driest part of the turkey which no doubt they will overcook by drying  it out.  Thats what gravy is for.
      
  • Now, large charities make one Normal Rockwell for the press to see and photograph.  The real meals are breasts only. All they need is a slicer , it’s quicker, faster, safer,  just buy the breasts and a slicer, douche or drown it in gravy and it feeds the masses.


🦃  TECHNO INSIGHT —  

  • The basic problem with roasting a whole turkey or chicken, lies in the fact that while leg meat, with its connective tissue,  fat, and deep color should be cooked to at least 165°F to be palatable, lean breast meat will completely dry out much above 150°F*  and taste is more important to me than the presentation folks have seen for a millennium.   Two Methods here, they are dividing the bird on two trays or Spatchcocking.

  • The Johnny-FIve Method  ( named after a Robot Johnny-Five and he was about to get dis-assembled) means you place the ancillary parts on two trays — In spatchcocking you are flattening the bird and using a large tray. The parts then pre-cooked are thrown into the slow cooker or Dutch oven to finish it off into soup or barbecue.

  • Both techniques depend on how many guests, are adults and kids.  Both cook fast more efficient and the divide eliminates most of the wasted time and wasted parts left over which few eat and allows more time for entertaining and with less kitchen chores.  

  • Thats the alternative plan if you have picky eaters and only eat breast meat like kids and some adults with a lack of good culinary experience passing the Mac and Cheese syndrome down to the kids. 

  • We turned the leftovers into first overs by incorporating the less popular cuts wings, legs , thighs and drumettes into Turkey stew and soup, cooking albeit slower into a crock pot,  but at the same time the main breast portions were cooking.   This parallel cooking of the wings, related parts, and the legs and thighs related parts were on a 2nd tray lower in the oven cooking at the same time as the breasts and tops of the thighs. Then…

  •  I pulled the wings and legs 2nd tray at one hour, couple whacks with the cleaver for sizing and into the crock pot with broth and of tons vegetables and at the end added two cans of cream of Chicken.  This created a very rich soup for Thanksgiving or stew, from Christmas to New years.  Almost a Turkey pot pie soup.  After a few hours adding water or broth as needed the meat fell off the bones. 

  • The 2nd tray parts fall apart in the crock pot so you have 100% usage, and it improves the wings and legs flavor.  I just use tongs to pull the bones out when the meat falls off.  I had  a lot of meat from the Tom, and actually finished cooking by setting the crock pot on low and went to bed.  The next morning doing portion control with the  Tupperware. For the two of us it lasted two weeks.


👺This new method is not new, about eight years ago the NY better places to eat copied the spatchcock and whole split procedures to handle Holiday traffic.  The results yielded 00% usable Turkey less the guts.  If you knew what I knew,  with what they are fed in growth hormones alone to make 8-12 week wonders, I will not use spare parts for gravy or any other purpose other than keeping my garbage man employed.


  • Both recipes are below and absolutely zero wastage.  These are not wild turkeys, the factory holiday birds are bred to just eat, they don’t fly and they don’t dance, so they will get big breasts and the rest is to me useless and to most folks and most of those parts, well they are not that popular anymore.

  •  Again we decided to do this as the kids usually wanted the turkey leg, took one bite and left the rest on the table till the dog managed to find it.  Now the whole leg gets used in the soup less fat skin and bones.  And the soup is delicious.

  • Keep it simple.  Using Spanish or the hotter Hungarian paprika, with the usual partners, Sage, Rosemary, Salt Pepper, and a few florals, like Garam Masala, we are creating a Turkey thats cooked even, moist with a crisp and edible skin, and filled with enticing smells and aromas.  The fast cooking produces a fully moist Turkey.   Some will prefer simply using poultry mix right out of the McCormick bottle. Thats your call.

  • Now the cheap birds 10-12 lbs known as young turkeys leftovers get used with the breasts in Barbecue, Hot-wing Sauce, Honey -Sriracha, Teriyaki and other smaller in-house ( not for occasions) usage like a big chicken.


🦃  Spatchcocking Methodology  —  Option Two  --

  • A Spatch cock, or “Spattlecock”, is poultry or game that has been prepared for roasting or grilling by removing the entire backbone, and breaking the sternum of the bird.  Basically to flatten it even.

  • Thus by flattening it out before cooking allows the broken bird to cook more even throughout at even higher temperatures.  It may also be known as “butterflying” the bird. 

  • I simply say and coined it “ we flat-lined the bird”.  Our oven like most has a heating element on the bottom and an element on the top and where you place the bird has a lot to do with what you wind up with.     No muss, no fuss, no cleanup. I clamp the bird to the grid with wire if needed when cooking more than one.


🦃  Cooking Times - Advantages Are Substantial  —  

  • You will spend less time in the kitchen.  Basically all carving, the major surgery is done ahead of time.  There is little or no cleanup during and after the dinner meal. 

  • Because of faster cooking times, in our twenty year old  Kenmore  Stove our twelve pound bird was done in 1:10 minutes.  Our 21 pounder took 1: 30 minutes to 168-170 degrees F. which is based on a preheated oven at 450F.   They were cooked and fit flattened in foil commercial 21 inch oven trays with sealing tops for travel, nice heavy duty,  from Gordon Food Service for $2.50 - 2.79 for the top and bottom. 

  • “Johnny Five” cooks the same as spatch cocking except in Johnny five we remove the wings and legs for one tray and the breast on another allowing two different seasonings at the same time in the oven.   We unpacked and laid the big 21.5 lb.  bird on the cutting board and broke the backbone, removed the wings, thighs and legs using a sharp knife, heavy duty OXO shears and at one point the 21 pounder got the 1-1/2 inch garden branch cutter for the really tough leg bones.  

  • That cutter kept perfectly clean is only for kitchen use, the branch cutter does not go outside.  The smaller bird we spatch cocked and cooked the bird basically butterflied with normal cutting tools, this 21 pounder was a bad boy and needed the heavy stuff we used when we di big lots of turkeys.


🦃  I Will Be Hated For This By The Gravy Purists  —  I have no use for the inner guts, giblets or any other part of the digestive track of the bird, so they get pitched.   Oh, Oh, here we go, here come the purists.  This is not about taste nor process, it is about health.  I do not care for the organs as they have most of the synthetic chemicals the bird gets with the food it is fed for enhanced growth. 

I worked in the food industry and continue to monitor it and while many of the companies adhere to strict rules, many simply don’t.  It is systemic from the farm to the table, be it in your home or restaurant.  When something is made grown or is processed,  food like served at fast food establishments, and might be bad, money is still the bottom line and throwing something out, using it beyond its date, putting it in the stock pots or other “tricks” do not sit well with me.  

Do not put some growers and farms beyond this bar.  Raw food is money and you just don’t throw it away till the Dirty Dinning police or the County Agricultural Restaurant people close a place down.  Happens thousands of times a day.

I do not use the inner parts, nor the sternum I remove for gravy, forget the gravy, many good ones and bad ones on the shelves.  In powder form mixed with Turkey or Chicken broth from Lawrey’s, or GFS,  and in jars from Campbell’s, Heinz, Custom Culinary.  Many choices out there.

M choice is Gordon Food Services — They sell public and to restaurants and if you had turkey with gravy served in when out for dinner — you have already had it --

Some times I dress it up with a dark wine, a small can or two of sliced or chopped mushrooms, garlic, onion or shallots and/or  enhance flavor herbs (Sage, Rosemary, Thyme)  or simply by adding a tablespoon of Poultry season, and I don’t need a stock pot.  It’s called “  the old pan on the stove technique”, simple and just eliminated four steps and a lot of cleaning for nothing.

The best parts are ready to serve.  90% of those at holiday time eat the breast meat and 100% of the secondary parts are now making other dishes because this 21 pounder fed 12  [6 adults 6 kids] and we had enough breast meat left for sandwiches and left overs for a week, almost  five pounds, and… 

The less desirable parts are already making about  four to five enriched quart containers of incredible turkey soup for those frigid cold Winter months here in Florida when it drops below seventy-five degrees.


🦃  Stuffing Hints   I use the aluminum pans from GFC, because they are sheet or half sheet size restaurant quality, heavier than supermarket pans and with locking lids.   

Start your turkey in the oven resting directly on top of a large tray of stove top stuffing mixed with a layer of chopped vegetables underneath the turkey as it roasts using the Trinity of onions, carrots, celery, a little sage and thyme. 

I may add broth to keep the stuffing soft occasionally, and not only will these vegetables add aroma and flavor to the turkey, they’ll also emit enough steam to effectively control the temperature of the baking sheet, preventing any juices from burning.

You can transfer the turkey to a rack in a rimmed baking sheet about half way through cooking before the stuffing has a chance to start burning.   This is actually an even more effective way of getting turkey flavor into the stuffing than to stuff it into the turkey itself.   When butterflied, you get direct contact between far more turkey and stuffing than you ever could otherwise.



Gourmet GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE


Two Generations And Change —

Thanksgiving is a cornerstone of tradition and any deviating is frowned upon, but not for me.  I see it as a testing ground for different ideas and change.  Couple years back was different from the previous years.   I undertook the Green Bean Casserole and the Stuffing for a traditional dinner with a new look and taste.t

It Took A Turkey To Make Me Realize — I was Bored with Norman Rockwell —

I dragged a SPATCH COCKED TURKEY ALONG for the ride in 2017…its last.  Thanksgiving I wanted something different. 2018 — 2019   I tried another technique called the “ Johnny Five version of Turkey".  Basically you disassemble the whole thing and use the parts for what they were intended for.

Holidays are what we make of them and generally we make what we have made before and it usually does not vary from year to year nor generation to generation.  Psychologically, thats because we all enjoy what the traditional dinner represents, the continuation of the family structure which dwindles down to one or two days a year.

Holidays are a great family bonding idea, it still rewards us though we have endured, during the most emotion and sensitive times, the tribulations of travel, mixed generations, new paths, and the typical reflections of both good and bad memories at this time of year.  It also is a controversial holiday as sooner or later something like sports, politics, and past relationships will develop into hot topics and ruffled feathers, but not on the turkey.


Not In My World — I Am a Chef - Cook — Experimenter —

In short, I changed, altered spiced up the traditional bean and mushroom soup casserole and brought it to the gourmet level.   
And I made the casserole since then for four different holiday and guest occasions.  No left overs, the casserole dish was scraped clean. 

The secret is lots of sweet Visalia onions caramelized in butter mixed with a dash of brown sugar cooked and added to the soup together with additional cans of fresh mushrooms, garlic, Parmesano Reggiani and some Cheddar cheese, Panko bead crumbs, a little sweet white wine or Marsala that was on sale, a small touch of Garam Masala and some thyme.  ( I have also made it with Herbs de Province instead of the Garam Masala as a variant)

Most think that sometimes you can’t improve on traditions. Wrong, even something simple as this can be tweaked.  And green bean casserole had the inside track on what people expect on Thanksgiving and in this recipe, it got a whole lot better.  Not a big change just a small tweaking. 

This year we spiked the menu a little more and did a  Spatch-cocked Turkey  and learned a few tricks I’ll share with you.


Ingredients 

  • 2 Cans (10 3/4 oz) Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 2 Cans  Giorgio Mushrooms Pieces and Stems (8 0z total)
  • 4 Cans Green Giant Cut Green Beans, drained (I prefer fresh but didn’t like what I saw, it had been picked over)
  • 1 Sweet Biggly (Vidalia or white onion)  sliced thin to caramelize
 ( Bigger the Better)
  • 2 tablespoon butter,
1 tablespoon sugar to carmelized the onions

  • 1 tablespoon bacon bits or leftover ham cooked to render out the fat

  • 1/2 teaspoon Black pepper plus a few red pepper flakes 

  • 1 Teaspoon Spanish Paprika (option)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Garam Masala (option)

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/3 cup FRENCH'S® Original or Cheddar French Fried Onions

  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese mixed with the soup

  • Using a potato peeler, I slice some fresh Parmigiano Reggiano on top after primary cooking


Directions

  • Cook the  caramelized onions, bacon bits, or ham bits in butter and sugar till done, clear and soft browned, your preference.
  • In mixing bowl, mix the cooked onions and bits with the soup, add the mushrooms, salt, pepper, paprika, garam masala, salt.
  • Place in big enough 2- 21/2 -qt. baking dish

  • Stir in beans 
  • BAKE at 350°F for 30 min. or until hot.

  • Stir softly so as not to make mush.  
  • TOP with 2/3 cup of FRENCH’S ONIONS.  
  • 
And I shred some Parmigiano Reggiano on top, never enough of the good stuff…
  • Bake 5 min. until onions are golden
  • Enjoy…..


Beans Are Good For You —  

Because of their rich green color, we don't always think about green beans as providing us with important amounts of colorful pigments like carotenoids. Recent studies have confirmed the presence of lutein, beta-carotene, violaxanthin, and neoxanthin in green beans. 

In some cases, the presence of these carotenoids in green beans is comparable to their presence in other carotenoid-rich vegetables like carrots and tomatoes. The only reason we don't see these carotenoids is because of the concentrated chlorophyll content of green beans and the amazing shades of green that it provides.

You can enjoy green beans while supporting food sustainability! Recent surveys have shown that 60% of all commercially grown green beans are produced in the United States, with large amounts of green bean acreage found in the states of Illinois, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Wisconsin. 

If you are unable to obtain fresh green beans, you can still get many valuable nutrients from green beans that have been frozen or canned. We like fresh greens the best! But we realize that access to them can sometimes be a problem. When first frozen and then cooked, retention of some B vitamins in green beans (like vitamins B6 and B2) can be as high as 90%. 

Recent studies have shown that canned green beans, on average, lose about one third of their phenolic compounds during the canning process. They lose B vitamins as well but in the case of some B vitamins like folic acid, as little as 10%.

Green beans (referred to as "string beans" by the study authors) have recently been shown to have impressive antioxidant capacity. Research comparing the overall antioxidant capacity of green beans to other foods in the pea and bean families (for example, snow peas or winged beans) has found green beans to come out on top, even though green beans are not always highest in their concentration of specific antioxidant nutrients like phenolic acids or vitamin C. 

It's not surprising to find recent studies highlighting the antioxidant capacity of green beans!  Researchers now know that the list of antioxidant flavonoids found in green beans is not limited to quercetin and kaemferol but also includes flavonoids like catechins, epicatechins, and procyanidins.  Researchers also know that the antioxidant carotenoids in this vegetable are diverse, and include lutein, beta-carotene, violaxanthin, and neoxanthin, as noted above.

Green beans may be a particularly helpful food for providing us with the mineral silicon. This mineral—while less well known that minerals like calcium and magnesium—is very important for bone health and for healthy formation of connective tissue. Green beans have recently been shown to stack up quite well against other commonly-eaten foods as a good source of absorbable silicon.

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