When I was four, I was chased by a turkey. While I’m sure this has tainted my view of the bird, it goes without saying, I don’t like turkeys very much. So I’ve never shared America’s fervor for consuming them when the holidays roll around. I much prefer to cook Duck. They don’t have much meat on them but a bounty of fat and skin to enhance their flavor. Whereas modern turkeys are gargantuan birds with loads of meat on their bones but very little fat. Making it a ridiculous creature to cook in an oven. We’ve come up with various techniques like basting, stuffing, buttering, brining, foiling, and so on, in an effort to give the bird more moisture and flavor. We’ve even romanticized the process to the point that “it just isn’t the holidays” without cooking a turkey. Well, most years I risk the wrath of Norman Rockwell and cook something else as a centerpiece for dinner: Cornish Hens, Beef Wellington, Five Spice Duck, Spiral Ham, there are plenty of other ornate options.
Yet, when asked, I’ll still cook a turkey. It is telling that the most exciting part (for me) is choosing what stuffing to cook inside it. Will it be andouille sausage and water chestnut stuffing? Apple and pecan? Cornbread, pork, and fennel? (Anything to distract you from the main event.) No matter what I decide, I still end up beached on my couch after the meal.
That’s what I’d like to address, the post-turkey hangover. Don’t you find on the day after you’re not exactly at your best? Feeling sluggish? Starched from the inside out? A little malaise as if you were out all night drinking? Little bit of feather from the bird that bit ya? I’ve heard of different cures for this (taking a long walk, chewing mint leaf, hydrating). While they’ve all worked to a degree, none of them have been as effective as what I stumbled upon recently.
Sweet and I decided to make Turducken. It’s a nice change from the straight forward bird. Though it requires a lot of deboning so the meats can be wrapped around each other. This process forces you to deal with all those carcass bones now rather than later. I don’t like to throw the bones and offal away as they make great broth for future dishes. But we didn’t have enough room in our freezer for so many bones all at once. So while the Turducken cooked in the oven, we had a big pot of bones bubbling away on the stove, which had to be cooked late into the night.
The next morning we naturally felt gross, as we were still riddled with meat and stuffing. We wanted something to get us on our feet again, but the idea of eating anything in the fridge made us cringe. I opened the freezer drawer and saw the containers of broth we had made the night before. I was curious to see how it turned out as I had never put so many birds in one pot. We heated some up, thinned it with water, and sprinkled some salt. It was the best decision we could have made that morning. I was finally tasting turkey without all of the bulk that usually comes with it. The flavor was far more satisfying than the thick slices of white meat I had cut into hours ago. After a small bowl of it we felt more like ourselves. The broth was gentle on our stomachs and gave us some much needed energy to start the day.
If you’re oven is seeing a turkey in the near future, might I suggest saving a spot on the stove for the morning after.