This may be too graphic for some people- please click on by if you have vegetarian or vegen tendencies!!
Those feel-good advertisements in which a turkey, chicken, pig or cow is shown happily walking through grass in the sunshine are a crock. Factory farming is inhumane- the purpose is to crank out meat for profit, not cuddle the animals or give them a happy life. That is an unfortunate fact of our culture. If you would like to learn more, click here, or read this article by the ASPCA.
I eat meat, but I do not buy meat. I want my dinner to have lived a good life with a humane end. I am very fortunate to be able to raise my own animals- I know how they are cared for (very well), how they are fed (organically and naturally, as much as possible), and I know they have a humane end- I do it myself.
Once a year I help a friend butcher his turkeys just before Thanksgiving. Stan is a disabled Vietnam Veteran with use of only one arm. Usually there are 4 or 5 people that come to help do the turkeys.
This year, however, the others backed out at the last moment, and it was just Stan and me. It would take us all day. As I was driving out my driveway, a grey truck was coming up the road. As we do around here, I waved a greeting to the strangers. They thought I was waving them to stop however, so we had a short pleasant visit, and it turned out they were new to Idaho and just driving around checking out the area. On a whim, I asked “Well, do you want to butcher turkeys today?” To my great surprise, they looked at each other, turned back to me and said “Sure!” And, I’ll be darned- they did!
It was a cold, muddy day and these were city boys, so Stan provided them with some ‘country’ clothes for the job at hand.
These turkeys have been living free-range since July. At 4 months of age, they are between 25-45 pounds. They ate all the grain, grass, and bugs that they desired, and had the entire farm to run loose in. They could be quite an intimidating crowd when you walked down into the yard and they rushed up to see what treats you had. They have lived a good life, and were about to receive a quick and humane end.
Stan had been heating the dipping water since early morning, and had tables and other necessities for the job at hand prepared.
My part is to clean the birds. The guys do the killing, dipping and de-feathering, and I take the innards out. Stan gives most of the turkeys away to those less fortunate, and sells a few to pay costs.
Our two young helpers learned quickly, and were very interested in learning all they could about the process. For a couple of random guys out for a drive, they did a fantastic job, and both Stan and I were grateful for their help. They took a turkey home and served it for Thanksgiving- along with some pictures and a great story!
- Fresh or defrosted turkey
- Butter or margarine
- Foil or turkey-bag
- Rinse the turkey, removing the neck and other ‘parts’, from both ends- don't forget to remove the giblet packet from the neck cavity!
- Put two pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil together to make a piece large enough to completely enclose the turkey.
- Grease the foil with butter or margarine, leaving the edges clean.
- Place the turkey in the middle of the foil and seal the foil around the turkey. Leave it loose around the turkey.
- Place the sealed turkey in a shallow roasting pan (no rack) and put in oven at 450 degrees.
- Open foil for last 20 minutes to brown
- Cooking times are as follows:
- 7-9 lbs 2 ¼-2 ½ hrs
- 10-13 lbs 2 ¾ -3 hrs
- 14-17 lbs 3- 3 ¼ hrs
- 18-21 lbs 3 ¼ -3 ½ hrs
- 22-24 lbs 3 ¼ -3 ¾ hrs
Stuffing must be cooked separately.