Would you have the neck to cook this?

Neck on the block

YEAH I know, it’s not a looker. But would you eat this turkey neck? I did.

You’ll find one in your Christmas turkey, that is if you buy a bird with giblets. We had beef not turkey last year but we knew someone who did.

Someone who shuddered with disgust at the plastic wrapped innards and was not going to make giblet gravy so I volunteered to take them. I am all in favour of ‘nose to tail’ eating and that must include the neck.

I bunged them in the freezer for a few weeks before getting round to cooking them.

I only had vague ideas, possibly a soup, but when I opened the two bags what a lot I got. One contained the neck, the other two hearts and two glossy, juicy livers but no gizzard.

Now turkey liver is much too good to throw away on soup and had been well cleaned so just needed slicing, frying off with onions, thyme and garlic, and finishing with sherry, mustard, creme fraiche and the odd grape – liver Veronique. Served on toast.

And very good it was too. The flavour is much more pronounced than chicken livers.

I wasn’t so sure about the neck. Googling recipes came up with a Jamaican mock ‘oxtail stew’ from which I took a cue, if not the spicing. It might have been better if I had.

Oxtail requires long, slow cooking so after whacking the neck into segments I did the same thing. After searing the meat I added onion, celery, carrots, bay and thyme. Then as an afterthought I threw in a few no-soak pinto beans. The cooking liquor was a chicken stock cube. I included the sliced hearts for good measure.

Three or four hours later it was ready, the meat falling off the bones. But this was no rich, thick, vibrant dish, more a muddy, earthy tasting gloop. I don’t think the beans helped here.

I tried to improve things slightly with soy sauce and my home made elderberry Pontack Sauce) but . . .

It wasn’t unpalatable but not, I think a wiñner. I ate slightly more than half of it, telling myself it was what the Italians call cusina poverta, poverty cooking. But you wouldn’t get an Italian eating this!

In future, I’ll leave turkey necks for giblet gravy but the livers are an extra special treat.

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