Except we can’t because no one knows what the hell they’re talking about. Some people know some things, and lots of people know lots of other things but no one ever agrees on anything. I certainly don’t know anything that’s for sure.
I have done this, make a turkey, countless times. I have no idea why I get so worked up about it but that seems to be the way I go about nearly everything. Just to do it this time I watched several hours of YouTubes, the font of all wisdom, and came away more confused than ever. Although, for sure, I was going to debone it as I have done many times over the years. But that’s where the YouTube fails me. I mean, I got about 6 or 7 different ways to debone the damn thing as well (including a super annoying sing song guy that nearly made me kick the TV and I would have if I wasn’t afraid of having to reconnect a new TV to the cable or WiFi or whatever system it’s connected to). But no one that I could find on YouTube really cooks a turkey the way I’d planned to do. Add to that their procedures, methods, times, temperatures were all different. In the end I was just winging it anyway and all that YouTubing was a waste of time, and demoralizing at that.
I used a thermometer which seems to be the best way to determine if the thing is cooked. All the dire prognostications, warnings and admonishments just served to freak me out. And imagine my level of hysteria when, while roasting the damn thing, the house next door caught fire and 79 firetrucks and ambulances came screaming at my house. After about 10 minutes of Gladys Kravitzing it turned out that everything was fine apparently, the fire trucks left. Probably someone had watched a YouTube and was trying to make a turkey.
Being the optimistic kinda guy I am I have high hopes for Thanksgiving. I went whole hog, so to speak, and bought a heritage breed (Bronze, I think it’s called). It cost $132 (the label says $107 but I had to put a $25 deposit on it. I know. Insane. But, well, free range, organic blah blah blah. Walkin’ the walk.) with the intention of deboning it and stuffing it as I have done a few times in the past.
I deboned it watching the Jacques Pepin/Julia Child video on PBS (which I have bookmarked). This is not as easy as you’d imagine. I had to keep washing my hands to back the video up and watch him effortlessly snap the freakin’ thigh or some goddam thing—I was completely unable to accomplish this by any stretch of the imagination. He just rips the meat and skin off of the carcass like he’s taking off his socks. This is not how it works. Plus he did this in less than 5 minutes. Over hour later I was still trying to locate the yadditti-yah joint or whatever (“eet ees jusht below dee shouldah—do turkey have shoulders?). It was hell. And just an absolute mess. The place was an abattoir.
In the end, I managed to arrive at the same destination, we were just on different conveyances. He was in a car, possibly a Maserati, I was on foot with only one shoe and there was a pebble in it. It took me an hour and a half.
I rationalize making this much effort because the cooking time without bones is dramatically reduced, carving it is miraculously easy, the presented turkey carved with the stuffing in it is beautiful, and I can use the carcass to make stock in advance. Which I did.
Now, on to grasping the mysteries of the butcher’s knot. (YouTube video) I was never good with knots.