Wednesday 26 October 2016

Talking turkey: giblets, pandy stuffing and a syringe full of butter

Published 16/12/2013 | 23:30

Roast Turkey Dinner
Roast Turkey Dinner

DID you ever stuff a wellington with mash and breadcrumbs made from some herb like rosemary or thyme? Well, that's how the turkey tasted when we, sorry I, left the giblets -- heart, neck, liver, gizzard and private parts -- in the plastic bag the turkey farmers place in the cavity where the guts used to be.

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It's like hiding dynamite in an oven. Why do the turkey pluckers put the cast-off bits in such a hidden-away place? I can never figure it out. Tip 1: shove your hand in and search before you cook your bird.

That reminds me, the word bird, that is. There was this lad in the bar the other night and the mother had to pull him up for dirty talk.

"I'm going to stuff my own bird, front and back this year", he said. I don't know if he really meant to say anything dirty. He could've been one of those innocent lads who says the wrong thing by accident. Like the time I said the stupid statement to the heavy woman who was very conscious of her weight and was always crashing out of mad diets. Trying to be nice , as we do in the pub game, I brought her over a stool and said "sit down there and take the weight off your feet".

She never came inside the door again. A big loss it was to me. A gin and tonic was a fiver then. She'd drink three, twice a week. The husband, who was diagnosed with diabetes a few years later, would drink a dozen oranges at €2 a pop and eat two bags of salty crisps every night until his blood pressure was registered in the 'Guinness Book of Records'. Which made their yearly spend about, ah feck it, I was never great at the maths. Well, it was a good bit anyway and my good deed and soft talk cost me a fortune if they lasted maybe 10 years, before their giblets gave out.

As we were saying before we were distracted by the ghost of cock-ups past, the turkey is a tricky bird. One time I came up with a great plan. Turkey meat is very dry. The breast bit anyway. So I melted butter and stuffed it in an unshared horse syringe given to me by a vet. The plan was to inject the turkey breasts with the butter, thereby moistening the meat. But the butter wouldn't come out of the nozzle because it was too thick and the end of the syringe was too thin. I flung the syringe in the bin. Then I got worried, after too much beer, and went looking for the syringe in case the bin man thought we were shooting up on heroin. I accidentally pricked myself and maybe that was how I got the cholesterol.

I've been demoted to chief baster. That's the spooning of juices over the bird to keep her moist. It's not a difficult job and it gets you access to the potato stuffing, or pandy as we call it around here. The juicy pandy seeps slowly out out of the bird's waistcoat on to the ladle. I always said if I won the Lotto, I'd get my own chef to cook a turkey every day and just eat the pandy stuffing out of the cave at the back of the Pope's Nose. The turkey you can keep. I'd kill right now for a feed of pandy stuffing.

All these doctors who are giving out about pubs should have a go at the celebrity chefs. Every time you turn on the TV, there's a programme on about cooking the bird. Usually after eight. Charlie Swan, the brilliant jockey, told me one time you'll never put on too much weight if you stop eating at six o'clock. You're watching prime-time telly when some deadly tasty recipe comes up on the screen, and what do you do? You send out for a takeaway. Templemore is re-opening to take in 300 gardai and about time, too. The Celebrity Chef Academy is recruiting 500 new students to fill the demand from lazy programme makers.

I like Kevin Dundon's programmes, though. I've eaten his food, too and it's the best. Nigella has a recipe for ham marinaded in Coca-Cola. I feel very sorry for her and the family. They are in for an awful Christmas. Fame is the worst affliction of all.

Darina Allen says the best recipe is to steep the turkey in a bucket of brine. She's a great lady and a big friend of the mother's, for years. She works fierce hard does Darina. Just like the mother. Sad to say, though, since the mother has had the second hip done, she has had to cut back drastically on her hours working in the bar. Terrible for our matriarch after all her years. She's 84 and three-quarters and all the poor woman is able for now is the bare 14 hours a day. I should give her the sack, but what business could pay 59 years' redundancy? Unless the big gin and tonic lady with the sweet-toothed husband came back but then again, she did take up three places on the busy nights.

Speaking of wellingtons and great women, as we did, check out my friend Katy Hasset's website for wellies in your GAA county colours. Best Christmas present ever at, for wearing only, and not for stuffing with pandy.

The safest fall-back Plan B tip of all, though, is to keep a bag of chicken nuggets in the freezer just in case. You can always tell the kids they're turkey nuggets and the adults will be so sozzled from the torrential red wine epidemic, they'll hardly notice.

Irish Independent

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