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Removing a turkey backbone: 'A fight to the death'

By Elizabeth Woodworth
Contributing Writer
Posted on 1/2/2018, 1:00 AM

Things I learned this holiday. No matter how intently I watch the cooks on "Cook's Country," I can't do what they do. The illustrated instructions in the magazine are deceptively easy. NOT!

Removing the backbone from a turkey breast is not a matter of minutes or a matter of using kitchen shears to cut along the ribs to the wing bones and twisting those out of the sockets. It was a fight to the death, and for a long while I thought it might be mine.

Even with no one looking, it is embarrassing to be bested by a dead turkey.

Loosening the skin, rubbing salt on the meat, replacing the skin. But don't detach it completely so that it will fit nicely on the breast again. Not an easy or quick task. Then roasting in a skillet -- the only instruction that was easy.

I used a cast iron chicken fryer, deep but not as deep or heavy as a Dutch oven. Roasting in a slow oven, no lid or foil needed. The turkey skin browned nicely. It was easy to take a temperature reading, and produced enough juice for gravy.

Would I do it again? Yes, now that I have thrown the instructions for boning and salting away. Am thinking that a deep skillet would be ideal for a small beef roast. After all, skillets are made to be used on the stove top.

Making the dough for a tea ring is not difficult, just measuring and mixing. Have learned to wear disposable gloves when it comes to the kneading part. For some reason, I tried to get all the flour in the bowl incorporated into the dough before turning it out on a floured counter. I realized that I really was kneading it in the mixing bowl. It worked great, no floury/doughy mess, just nicely kneaded dough and an easily washed bowl.

When it was time to roll the dough, instead of flouring the counter, I sprayed with a light coating of PAM. The dough rolled so easily that I could pick it up and turn it, no doughy mess to get off the counter. Just a wash with an SOS pad. Wish I had known about this years ago. Somewhere I read that oiling instead of flouring was the way to go, and it is!

Thank-you notes have been written and mailed. Mom thought they had to be done before New Year's Day, a week being long enough to get the job done. Still feel uncomfortable if I don't follow the rule. Christmas decorations are to be put away by New Year's Eve day.

Mom never left a Santa on the back door until February. She knew where everything had been hung, that children were for fetching and, when older, for packing. Even though I don't have an annual party as the folks did, I still get the decorations down as if I were. Except for that Santa on the back door.

It's not like I don't see it every time I go out. I'm on the way out, so I don't take it down. Or on the way in, hands are full and don't want to drop anything. Good or bad, tradition is tradition.

This is the second day of the new year. How many resolutions have you broken?

We survived the old year, maybe not as well as we would have liked, but it is gone. A new one is open before us. May we use it wisely.

One way to use it wisely is by marking your calendar. The Neverly Brothers will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, at SIC Visual & Performing Arts Center. Their popular old time rock 'n' roll program is part of SIC's Cultural Arts Concert Series. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.

• ELIZABETH WOODWORTH is a weekly columnist based in Saline County.

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