Best Way To Dispatch A Turkey
The live turkey is suspended by the legs, the feet held in a steel shackle. The head is held in one hand, the fingers grasping the sides, but not the front, taking care not to compress the jugular veins located in the throat area on the ventral (lower) side of the neck. A strong, deep cut is made across the throat from the outside, close to the head, so that both branches of the jugular vein are cleanly severed at or close to their junction.
Before the turkey is bled, an electric stunner can be used to prevent struggling and relax the muscles that hold the feathers. As soon as breathing stops and bleeding is completed (II/2 to 2 minutes), the feathers are loosened, usually by the subscald method in which the bird is immersed in agitated water at 140° F. (60° C.) for about 30 seconds. The feathers usually are picked by a rubber-fingered machine that also removes the cuticle or bloom, which is the thin outer layer of the skin. The pinfeathers are removed by hand and the bird is immediately eviscerated, never allowing the skin to dry out.
In one evisceration method, the turkey is suspended in the shackle by the head and both hocks. A crosswise cut is made between the rear end of the keel and the vent, which has been loosened by a circular cut around it. The intestines are loosened carefully and left hanging outside the body but still attached to it for inspection.
The lungs and the oil gland at the base of the tailhead are removed. The kidneys usually are left in although most consumers prefer their removal. The head is cut off and the neck is severed at its junction with the body. The entire neck skin is slit along its upper surface and peeled back to the lower side of the body where it remains attached, later to be folded up over the neck opening. The crop, gullet, and windpipe are loosened, cut off close to the body, and removed.
The gall bladder is carefully removed from the liver; the heart is trimmed; and the gizzard is split lengthwise through the thick muscle and the horny lining and contents of the gizzard are peeled out. The beard is snipped off close to the skin, and the shanks are removed by cutting down through the flat, forward surface of the hock joint. If desired, the bony tendons in the drumsticks of turkeys over about 16 weeks of age can be removed, but only in part, with a tendon puller before the shanks are cut off.
The eviscerated carcass is washed inside and out and the parchment-wrapped giblets and neck are placed inside the body cavity. The bird is then trussed by forcing the legs under the strip of abdominal skin between the crosswise cut and the opening where the vent was removed.
The trussed eviscerated carcass then is chilled in ice water or ice slush to an internal temperature of 35° to 39° F. (1.7° to 4.0° C).
To prevent toughness, young fryer-roaster turkeys of both sexes should be chilled for 12 to 24 hours; young roaster hens, 8 to 10 hours; and young roaster toms, 4 to 6 hours. For maximum tenderness, the longer chilling times mentioned are preferred. After chilling, the carcass is drained, a plastic wrap is applied, the air in it is exhausted by vacuum, and the wrapper is sealed. The bird is then ready for freezing or for marketing fresh killed, unfrozen.
If the slack-scald (semiscald) method of loosening feathers is used, the dressing procedure is similar to that of the subscald method, but the preferred scalding temperature is 126° F. (52° C.) and the time of immersion in agitated water is about 50 seconds. Slackscalded turkeys can be picked mechanically, but the skin almost always is damaged so that immediate airtight wrapping or ice packing is necessary. If an undamaged skin is required, slack-scalded turkeys must be picked by hand and usually should be singed by exposing them lightly to a hot, smokeless flame.
Dry picking is little used today but is useful in situations where scald-picking facilities are not available or practical. However, immature turkeys of all types and all white turkeys are difficult to dry pick. Mature, dark-colored turkeys are best adapted to dry picking. The live bird is suspended by the legs in a steel shackle or by a strong cord, the end of which is passed through a hole in the center of a block of wood about 2 inches square.
The cord is wrapped once or twice around the shanks and the block is tucked in snugly against the shank. The bird’s head is held as suggested on page 73 but with the mouth held open with one finger. Into the mouth, insert a sharp, stiff knife with a very narrow blade about 4 inches long and make one or two slanting cuts well back in the upper surface of the throat to sever the jugular veins.
As soon as profuse bleeding is established, thrust the knife backward, at an angle corresponding roughly with that of the upper beak, through the groove in the roof of the mouth and into the rear lobe of the brain at the back of the skull. Rotate the point of the knife slightly to destroy enough brain tissue to cause loosening of the feathers. When the correct “stick” is obtained, the bird usually gives a characteristic squawk, the tail feathers are spread widely and all the feathers are loosened to permit easy picking by hand. An electric shocker or stunner can also be used to release the feathers.
After sticking or electrical shocking, continue to hold the bird’s head and attach a hooked, weighted blood cup to the lower jaw. Do not lock the bird’s wings or attempt to restrain its struggles. The operator can reach up under the bird, retaining hold of the head but allowing free movement of the wings.
For large birds, blood cups should weigh 7 to 9 pounds; for small and medium-size birds, 4 to 6 pounds. An effect similar to sticking or shocking, but not quite so effective, can be obtained by dealing the bird a sharp but not killing blow with a stout club on the rear bulge of the skull.
After sticking and bleeding the bird, start the picking by first removing the large tail feathers, then the large wing feathers, then the bulk of the contour feathers, starting with the drumsticks and leaving the neck and adjacent breast feathers until last.
After this rough picking of all sections, complete the picking with the aid of a rounded, dull-blade, pinning knife. Use a twisting motion to help loosen the large tail and wing feathers; use brisk movements against the grain to pull contour feathers in small clusters. The skin never should be rubbed to remove feathers but singeing after pinfeather removal is desirable.
Dry-picked turkeys usually are chilled by exposing them promptly to a free circulation of cold air at 30° to 39° F. (-1.1° to 4.0° C.) for 8 to 24 hours to lower the internal temperature to about 35° (1.7° C). If cold air is not available, chilling can be done in ice water. Internal temperature is taken by inserting a thermometer well into the vent.
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