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The REAL Turkey Butchering Story
So, my daughter Kristel decided to raise some Heritage turkeys (six) and put them all in the freezer. We have butchered turkeys before, a number of years ago. NOT a fun experience. But she wanted to give it another try.
A few days before butchering them, however, she decided she would take them all but Sir Tom-Tom (the king) to the sales barn and sell them. We did not want to butcher all those turkeys (I think a moment of reality struck her.) They sold for a ton of money (like $85-$90 a turkey!) That buys a lot of hay for the horses.
Anyway, to get you all in the right frame of mind, we will start our butchering story with a one-minute video of Kristi trying to catch a turkey–any turkey!
Here is Sir Tom-Tom’s journey from King Gobbler to tasty Thanksgiving turkey. He was prepared in much the same way Andi and her family would have done it. Except this bird went into the oven instead of a roasting pit in the backyard.
1. First of all, one must catch the turkey. After caught (he was lonely because all of his friends had been taken to the sales barn the Saturday before), he was put into an old feed sack (I have spared you the images of his demise) and grandpa took care of killing the bird.
2. We wanted to keep the skin on the turkey so that meant the turkey must be plucked. This involved dipping the bird into 145-150 degree water for 30 seconds. This loosened the feathers and made them easy to pick off. I have spared you the image of the turkey dunked in the water.
3. Before plunging into the hot water, the turkey’s wings were cut off (too little meat on the wings to warrant plucking them). Besides, I wanted the wing feathers for my Goldtown Beginning giveaways because they are beautiful and look just like a wild turkey’s feathers. The tail “fan” of feathers was cut off before dipping too, to preserve the feathers. They are ruined if plunged into hot water. After cutting off these parts and making sure the water was the right temperature, what was left of Sir Tom-Tom was held under for 30 seconds.
4. Next, the turkey was tied by his feet with twine to one of the oak trees. It is much easier to pull of the feathers with gravity on your side. The feathers are pulled out in the opposite direction (like stroking a cat the wrong way). There were a gazillion feathers and they flew all over the place.
5. Once the turkey was completely plucked (feathers removed), we gutted it. I have spared you those pictures. Images cannot do justice to the terrible smell involved, and you can use your imaginations. This is me arranging Sir Tom-Tom to look like a turkey before popping him into the freezer bag. After being dressed (that’s what you call plucking and gutting the bird to get it ready for the oven), he weighed 12.5 pounds. This is a good weight for a six-to-seven-month-old Heritage turkey (which are the closest domesticated turkey to the wild turkey).
Sir Tom-tom tasted delicious!
One picture shows him out of the oven after an all-night brine soak and a season rub. Picture two shows all of the fluffy stuffing that came out of him. Yum!
This little fellow came to the window. I guess he saw us all enjoying our Thanksgiving dinner and wanted a “piece of the action,” so he hung around and stuffed his little beak with all of the hummingbird snacks he could find. Take a peek. This is an awesome creature!