Monday, November 16, 2015

Using Offal Isn't So Awful...Really: Learning to Use Turkey Guts

This past weekend, Chef Reiton and I had the kids home for our "Thanksgiving" since we won't get to see either of them on the actual holiday.  We spent Friday night experiencing the "T," wandering the North End, and trying out Carmelina's amazing pasta and Modern Pastry's fresh cannoli:


YUM to both.  

Saturday was to be "Thanksgiving," so while the rest went winter coat shopping, I stayed home to work on a classic Thanksgiving dinner.  Little did I know what I would discover in my solitary moments in the kitchen that afternoon.

Right before he left, Chef Reiton pulled out the Cook's Illustrated cookbook The Best New Recipe and said, "Let's make this gravy for our dinner tonight."

"Yeah, sure!" I agreed, quickly noting that he was leaving the book open to a particular page and then turning back to what I was doing.  And then he left.

I finished setting out pots and pans and got ready to stoke the fires, then turned to read the recipe.

The recipe that was titled: "Giblet Pan Gravy."

GIBLET.  As in guts.  Innards.  Organs.  Gizzards.  Offal.

Never in my life had I touched giblets, much less cooked with them.  I quickly scanned the recipe to see if I could somehow skip the giblet part.  But alas—it is hard to skip the main ingredient that the recipe is named for.  

I read on in further detail.  What the recipe largely wanted me to do was to make a stock from the giblets.  And the neck.  And the tail.  Which I had to CUT OFF.  Oh, Lord, could this get any worse?

But, really, I thought, trying to calm myself down, a stock isn't so bad. I didn't have to cut anything up.  All I had to do was brown up the whole lot of parts in their entirety and then add some herbs and broth and water and let it all go.  I could do that...

So I did.

Turkey giblet stock for Thanksgiving dinner

As I stood over what looked to me like witches' brew, steam began to rise up out of the pot and bubbles started blurping on the surface.  I took a stir or two when suddenly... DEAR GOD.

It smelled like Thanksgiving.

Oh, for all you believers in a no-giblet/organs/offal Thanksgiving dinner, you must believe me.  That smell that we associate with Thanksgiving, that amazing aroma that our grandmothers' kitchens always had for the holidays that we just haven't been able to replicate and we never knew why?

Offal is why

It is the ingredient that releases that intensely dark meaty fragrance into the air—and into your gravy.  I silently praised my husband for once again unknowingly teaching me a lesson about the adventures of food...and then found myself stirring the pot ridiculously more times than was probably necessary.

As the simmering time drew to its close, I read on to my next steps in the gravy making: strain the broth, cool the gizzards...

then chop them up and save them to add to the gravy LATER???

HELL, NO!!!

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