Using The Whole Bird: Parts of a Turkey You Didn’t Know You Could Eat
Now that Thanksgiving and Christmas are over, odds are that you think you’ve eaten enough turkey to last a lifetime. Hold that thought though, because maybe you’re selling that ugly, delicious bird short. There is plenty more to a turkey than just its breast, leg and dark meat. No, my friends, welcome to the wonderful world of offal. No, don’t screw up your face, let me take you there…
What is offal?
In this case, I’m referring to the turkey’s neck, heart, gizzards and liver. They’re all delicate treats and there are a variety of ways of preparing them that will make you question why people don’t indulge more readily. Let’s start, as is customary in life, with the neck and this amazing recipe from New Orleans:
Smothered New Orleans Turkey Necks?
This serves 6 people very generously – take note of your appetite and augment if need be!
125ml oil of your choice – I find groundnut particularly good in this recipe
1.8kg turkey necks with their skin removed
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 tsp ground onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
240g mushrooms, chopped
300g chopped onion
120g diced celery
120g pepper (red or yellow)
6 cloves of garlic, minced
A hearty handful of fresh parsley, minced
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
½ tsp mixed herbs
120g plain flour
120ml chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1kg cooked rice
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.
Heat a heavy-duty skillet on the stove, a medium heat should be about right.
Drop in the oil and heat it until almost smoking (this is so you can ‘seal’ the necks)
Whilst the oil heats, generously season the necks with salt, pepper, basil and the ground garlic and onion.
Then, place them carefully in the oil and fry until they are brown on all sides. Then remove them to a cooling rack to drain off the excess oil.
In the same pan, fry the onions, peppers, garlic and mushrooms until they are soft and golden. Then add the parsley, Worcestershire sauce and flour.
Return the necks to the pan and stir, making sure each neck is coated in the vegetable/flour mixture.
Then, add the chicken stock, sherry, bay leaves and paprika.
Mix everything together and then cover the pan and pop it in the preheated oven.
Roast the necks for around 90 minutes, by which time they should have cooked very nicely in their own juices and produced a rich gravy. Check on it occasionally and add sherry or stock as needed.
During this time, you can cook the rice according to the packet instructions.
As soon as they’re done, serve immediately over a bed of rice, making sure to ladle all the lovely gravy over everything. It’s not exactly the most healthy of turkey recipes, but it’s certainly one of the most delicious.
This is lovely just served on toast – really! You may have eaten liver before and no enjoyed it, but it’s possible that it wasn’t prepared to its best advantage. Those in the know soak liver in milk a little while before preparing it to remove any traces of blood and to soften the rather robust flavour. All you need to do is soak it for a couple of hours, rinse it under the cold tap and then lightly fry in oil or butter. Give it a go, you may just surprise yourself with this secret chef’s treat.
Turkey Heart & Gizzard
The heart can be, well, the heart of any recipe. Just use your meat grinder and add to any savoury dish for a shot of intense turkey flavour. The gizzard is actually the muscle that birds use instead of teeth to break down food for digestion – if you flash fry the gizzard, searing it all over and add it to any stock, it’ll give a real depth to the recipe. Experiment, play around and be brave – after all, that’s what cooking’s all about!
- License: Creative Commons image source
Kelly Clay is a writer famed for her ability to eat weird things like she was born to the task.