I push my hand up our turkey’s bottom and feel for the plastic bag of giblets. The heart, liver and gizzard don’t look much but I will put them to good use. The liver will go in the stuffing, the rest will make a giblet gravy.
I am always relieved when I find the little plastic bag. One year it was not there and I thought I must have mistakenly bought one of those birds the supermarket labels as ‘giblets removed for your convenience.’ Inconvenience, more like, if you’re not the sort who gets squirmy at the sight and feel of innards. When the turkey was cooked and had shrunk I was horrified to see the bag poking out of the neck end. It had been pushed too far up.
My wife and I looked at each other. Would cooking the bird with a plastic bag inside it poison our family or make the meat taste funny? Should we scrap Christmas dinner there and then? Or say nothing? We did the latter. No one noticed. No one died. It was years before we mentioned it.
The heart and kidneys only go some way towards the gravy. You need the neck. I reach up again and find it. A turkey neck looks like a part of the male anatomy and when I was younger that would trigger a kitchen routine. I am too old for that now. I have my dignity to consider.
The giblets are washed, the neck severed, with difficulty, into three pieces and put into a pan with water. I bring it to the boil, simmer, then lift off the scum and add a chopped onion, skin included for the colour, a few vegetables and herbs and simmer again for a couple of hours before straining. That is the stock for the Christmas Day gravy.
Meantime I made the stuffing, nothing too complicated: sautéed onions and mushrooms, bread crumbs, blitzed up nuts, a grated carrot, sausage meat and a splash of Port. The liver was blitzed in the blender with some onion and the Port and stirred into the mix before putting into a small loaf tin and popped in the fridge for the flavours to develop overnight.
That little bag of giblets makes all the difference to Christmas dinner. You just don’t have to be a squirmy sort of cook.