Organic. This seems to be a popular word right now. Surfing the internet, one will find all kinds of organic items: organic food, of course, but also organic clothing, organic decorations, organic crafts, organic experiences. I guess by organic, we want everyone to believe it's the real thing, nothing imitation or impure about it.
In the spirit of all things organic, I thought you might enjoy an organic Thanksgiving tutorial. My husband has recently put this tutorial together, and I thought that all of you who are craving an authentic, organic Thanksgiving experience might appreciate it.
Our first Thanksgiving here in Ghana, we did not eat turkey. You see, Ghanaians don't celebrate Thanksgiving, because.....they aren't Americans! Therefore, no turkey. Our first Thanksgiving we ate roast beef. I never realized how much cultural significance is contained in that bird until I couldn't have one!
Anyways, after that first year, we began a hunt for someone who could sell us a turkey. We finally found a lady at the university campus that raised them, and from that point on, we went and picked out our live turkey each year. John would help her kill it, and then she would dress and clean it for us.
But this year....things weren't quite so easy. Our normal seller didn't have any turkeys. She was kind enough, though, to help us find another seller. After John and Andrew traveled way across town, and shelled out a good bit of cash, they had two turkeys in the back of the car almost ready for Thanksgiving dinner.(The new seller did not do the services of keeping, killing, and preparing the turkeys that our normal seller does). This meant our kids got the pleasure of not only seeing our live turkeys this year, but also watching the dads slaughter them (well, at least from a distance).
So, for all those that have never slaughtered their own Thanksgiving dinner. Here is our Internet tutorial.
Step One- Selecting the Bird
Go to a house across town where they raise turkeys for sale.
(This year we chose two: one local turkey (looks like and has the size of a very large wild turkey in the States), and the second, a farm turkey (all white feathers and much larger)).
After selecting your turkey, be prepared to call the owner and to bargain over the price for about 30 minutes. After the said 30 minutes of reasoning, imploring, and talking, pay the workers and select the fattest birds you can find.
Step Two- Transportation
After paying everyone, make your cultural rounds of good-byes and farewells and so on. Now, tie up the birds legs. (This is after chasing the birds around the compound for about ten minutes). This allows for the birds to be safely placed in the back seat of the vehicle. After traveling for about half the trip, realize that you should have tied up the wings also, since now your car will be covered in turkey droppings and feathers from the frightened turkeys.
Step Three- The Pot
To pluck a turkey, one must have a proper pot. In this case, a rather large open- faced pot, with a lid in order that the water may boil quickly is your best bet. Our former turkey seller was kind enough to loan us a great pot. Most people will prefer cast iron, but here we make the choice of a nice lead-based pot to give it added flavor!!!!
Step Four- Execution
Time for the dirty work. After Tom has eaten his last meal, and prayed his last rites, and the pot is good and boiling, the time has come for ... well you know what.
Andrew and I found a nice spot for Tom's last moments where the kids would not watch. I would advise you to do the same!
In the famous words of the Queen of Hearts... "OFF WITH HIS HEAD!"
Note- Turkeys kick a lot and are really strong. Make sure to hold the legs and wings well.
Andrew almost got a claw in the face on the second one!
Step Five- The Dunking Machine
This is where you will get your exercise. You must lift the 20 to 30 pound bird repeatedly, dunking it in the boiling pot of water. Make sure to cover all the bird, and to scald your feet with the hot water that is running over the pot lip. This is very important and makes for a great story to tell to grandchildren or if you are a missionary, at missions conferences.
Step Six- Plucking
This is the fun part. Now that Tom is wet and his feathers are scalding hot, remove him from water and begin to pluck off all his feathers. This is a good time to call the wife and have her help. About 45 minutes later, you will hopefully have a nice clean turkey carcase.
Make sure to keep the feathers. They are great for Thanksgiving decorations, Indian costumes, and fake display table items. (Everyone loves when they are told by the missionary that he was given these feathers by a heathen tribal chief as a present).
Step Seven- Surgery
This is not for the faint of heart, or for those that are not totally committed to being carnivores. I am sure that many a vegetarian took a trip to a slaughter house too early in life and therefore have joined the ranks of meat abstainers.
After about 15 minutes, you should be elbow-deep in livers, hearts, and other entrails and such like. Remove them all. Carefully.
Step Eight- Clean Up and Packaging
Normally, we suggest having running water. This makes it much easier to wash the dressed bird and your own hands after handling all that poultry.
To make it fun and mix it up a bit, on this day the city decided to turn the water off at our house. In the case of this event, let the wives use the remaining boiled water and use it to scald your hands clean and to clean the turkey before packing.
To prepare Tom for his three week wait in the deep freeze, just wrap him in two plastic trash bags, and place him in the freezer.
We do hope that our Thanksgiving preparation has been inspiring, and that you will try the Organic Turkey experience for your Thanksgiving celebration next year!