Monday, December 1, 2014

Smoking George

About a month ago, as my daughter and I were walking to the bus stop, we found George, the woolly bear caterpillar you see above. He was crawling along side of the road, very sluggishly. As we stood waiting for the bus, my daughter asked if I would move George off the side of the road so he wouldn't get run over and I did so. I placed him at the foot of a nearby tree in the gravel you see above. The next morning, George was still there but lifeless. I assumed that George had died and gone to woolly bear heaven and that eventually a bird might eat him. But after a month, George was still there and now camouflaged a bit by pieces of blowing debris and a couple snows.

My daughter and I started talking about him again after we found him like what you see above and then it came to my mind, something I had seen a long time ago. I think George actually didn't get enough food to pupate before the cold weather hit and so he is able to allow himself to freeze completely solid over winter and try again next spring. After doing some research, I'm pretty certain that George is alive and well only comatose and frozen solid at the moment. I can't wait to share the good news with my daughter and I'm sure we will probably move George to a safer spot so that we can see if I'm right.

My parents have a couple guys who drive up all the way from Alabama every year to shoot some turkey on their farm. They don't eat the turkey and give them to my parents before heading home. I assume that they probably keep some part of the turkey as a trophy but I've never met them so I can't say for sure. I can say that wild turkey are not like the ones you get in the grocery store on a number of different levels.

The biggest difference is that their anatomy is significantly different. The breast bones on wild turkey are quite a bit larger and more pronounce and their leg bones are about three times larger. When carving up a wild turkey, I feel almost like I am trying to dissect an alien. The other big difference is because they are generally much older when they go to "the platter in the sky", they have much tougher meat. The meat has way more flavor than the domesticated ones you buy in the store but you definitely need a knife to help cut the meat up to eat. This year we tried something a little different. Rather than roast it in the oven in a dry heat, we decided to smoke it which isn't so bad about drying the meat out. This time we also brined it for 24 hours before sticking it in the smoker. While the meat was still a bit tougher than a domestic bird, it was a lot more moist and if you cut the meat across the grain, I don't think you would be able to tell it other than the better flavor.

Not one to waste a smoker full of smoke, we also smoked two other turkey and a farm raised chicken. We'll eat some of them and freeze the rest so that we can enjoy smoked poultry the rest of the year. Fortunately the day I smoked them, we had our first 50 degree day in a month and about 20 degrees warmer than the previous two weeks. The day after, it was back to being 20 degrees colder. I certainly hope this winter doesn't end up as cold as last winter was here.


warren said...

I love smoked meat and we totally stuff ours whenever we have a good smoke going on. I am sure you ate well!

ErinFromIowa said...

My daughter had salmon from Alaska gifted to her. She wants me to do something with it. I wish I could have snuck them into the smoker!

Anonymous said...

It must be three years since you wrote about the smoker.
My problem with turkeys this year is it seems everyone is pumping them full of milk/butter and calling the resulting liquid filled meat 'self basting'.

Ed said...

Warren - We always eat well when the smokers has been going!

Erin - I've smoked salmon before and it certainly is a good way to have it. Sometimes we just stand there with a fork and eat it and other times we make smoked salmon dip out it. This time however, we didn't have room for any.

Vince - I run the smoker about twice a year. In the fall I do turkey and in the spring I like to do a pork loin, salmon and chicken. I have never heard of a 'self basting' turkey but I think I would stay away from one if they become popular here.

sage said...

But you didn't smoke George, right? :) I have smoked a few wild turkeys back in the day and you are right, they are different but best done in a smoker than an oven. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Ed said...

Sage - I might have smoked George if he had a little more meat on the bone!

Leigh said...

OK, immediately after talking about moving George to a safer spot you show a photo of the smoker!!!

Dan is so itching to make a smoker. He love smoked meat. Maybe we'll get one going when we finally do our homegrown pork.