So, it’ll surprise no one that my entire family experiences textural issues with food: gristle, bits of fat, and bones. We were the kids who wouldn’t eat the bone-on chicken wings and legs, or we’d just take a single bite from the outside and proclaim it finished.
Dad’s autobiography was riddled with clear neurodivergence, which was only a peek into his real life. One of my favorite things was the fact he’d still be wandering around in shorts at this time of year. It wasn’t that he wasn’t cold, it was that he was so used to wearing them that the change felt wrong. It wouldn’t be until late January that he’d finally break and switch to sweatpants. He’d take a couple of weeks acclimating to the change, just in time to experience a month and a half of comfort. Then, come May, he wouldn’t switch back to shorts no matter how hot it was because he was used to the sweatpants, and the cycle continued.
Christmas morning in shorts, 4th of July in sweatpants, every single year. All this to say, it makes sense his kids are all neurospicy.
Turkey wasn’t really a thing in my house growing up, and when I moved out and got to experience my own holidays, I…didn’t love it. In fact, I didn’t love many traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Cranberry sauce has bits of berry skin in it, turkey has fat and bones, and people kept adding weird extras to the stuffing.
The stuffing was dads favorite food, without a doubt in my mind. Potatoes in all their forms might have been a close successor, but the stuffing was his favorite. Celery, bread, broth, eggs, bake the damn thing and eat it, simple. Imagine my horror when I moved to west Texas and learned that people put raisins, craisins, walnuts, corn, and all other manners of special add-ons to God’s already perfect food. It was good, sure, but was it the stuffing I knew and loved? No!
So, when I got a [rental] house of my own, I had to figure out what was Thanksgiving dinner for MY family. Elliot has fond memories of all kinds of southern cooking, Charlie had dysfunctional holidays growing up and wants anything but many southern Thanksgiving dishes, and Peter and I hate textures, oh boy.
The first few years were rough, but we’ve landed in our own traditions pretty well.
Turns out I’ll drink gravy right from a mug if you put it through a strainer. Strain the broth, strain the cranberry sauce, hell, strain the goddamned mashed potatoes. I have to buy a new strainer almost every year because I use it more than I use the toaster. Why are these textures in my food when I can simply eradicate them?
This isn’t to say our food goes in the blender to be some sort of gross abomination to mankind. It’s not that everything has to be smooth, it has to be expected. For instance, if I were to put all of dinner in the blender to create that abomination to mankind, you bet your ass it’s going through a strainer because I don’t want any god damned surprises.
So, the turkey. You can’t put a turkey through a strainer, and I haven’t been demented enough to try, so, what the hell do I do?
Simply what any logical person would spend three hours doing every single Thanksgiving; cutting out all of the bones, of course.
The process is brutal and long, and stupid. Pictured above: my newly broken kitchen shears, bested by the beast this year. But the job also allows control over the texture. My mouth doesn’t risk an ambush by turkey fat, because my hands are able to feel around and check for anything unwanted before it ever hits the oven. Plus, a happy side effect, all those bones, and bits I don’t want to eat are suddenly not wasted because I can turn them into a broth, for the gravy, which might be my favorite food.
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