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Ironically, white meat, the healthiest meat, comes from the laziest of birds. A non-flying bird, the chicken, gives us the healthy white breast meat, while a flying bird such as a duck gives us red meat which is high in cholesterol. The turkey, a large, lazy bird, originally from North America, provides another healthy white meat option in the form of turkey burgers, turkey bacon, smoked turkey and turkey bologna. And, of course, the fabulous roast turkey, without which no Christmas dinner should be considered complete.
Traditional condiments and accompaniments include cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, bread stuffing, creamed asparagus tips, snowflake potatoes, baked carrots, hot rolls, pickles, green olives, celery sticks, oyster stew and mince meat pies. The meal should be topped off with fruit salad, fruit cake, candies, grapes, apples, French drip coffee and maybe even a cigar.
An increasing number of supermarkets in Pakistan now supply frozen turkeys; some will arrange them for you within 48 hours of placing the order if they are not in stock. The price range of frozen turkeys varies between Rs 3,000 and 7,000 according to the weight of the bird; the average price is Rs 895 per kilo. Healthy, fresh turkey is not easily available, so frozen turkey is the best option.
If you are cooking turkey for the first time, choose a small bird; one that weighs between four to six kilos and will take about 3.5 to four hours to cook in a moderate oven. Remember to always soak the thawed turkey overnight in a brine solution made up of one cup salt in a gallon of water. Add aromatic spices to the solution, such as ginger, garlic, orange/lemon peel, cinnamon and cloves, otherwise the meat will be tasteless.
Enjoy your turkey!
– Dr Nezihe Hussain
The writer is a surgeon by profession and a foodie by passion.
First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on December 11, 2011.