Welcome to Painted Hand Farm

Painted Hand Farm is a 20 acre Civil War era farm located in Cumberland county, Pennsylvania. We raise meat goats, veal calves, turkeys and organic vegetables using humane and sustainable agricultural practices.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Day 2008

You've seen the birds as day-old poults and watched them grow since arriving at the farm in mid-June. Since Governor Palin was so kind as to offer the American public a ringside seat for turkey slaughtering, I'll spare everyone the details. But understand that to get them from the pasture to the kitchen required a very long day consisting of loading all the birds into the stock trailer (getting the entire rig stuck in the mud), taking them a few miles down the road to the farm where the automatic plucker is located and then spending several hours in the snow & rain processing, bagging and tagging. This is one of those rare days when I miss living in southern California when it was always sunny and 70 on butcher day. A big thanks to all our customers who purchased their holiday turkeys from us this year. The birds weighed between twelve and twenty pounds, with the majority being 15 & 16 pounders. This is the 15-pound bird I cooked today for my family.
I started out brining it for twelve hours in a solution of 1 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup Pennsylvania maple syrup, 1 gallon of water, 1/2 gallon of Toigo apple cider, fresh ginger, some juniper berries and a few peppercorns.

Next, I creamed together maple syrup, my home-made cultured butter from Emma the Jersey Cow and some dried rosemary I got from the flower, mushroom & herb people who were next to me at the Bloomingdale Farmers Market the first few weeks I was there. I carefully separated the skin from the breast and pushed the mixture between the two, smooshing it throughout the top of the bird. I slathered the remaining butter mixture on the outside.
This is the bird about half way through cooking. This year I was able to talk several of my customers into taking the feet and using them to make stock. This is the difference a few feet make in the stock. Notice the thick, silky, gelatenous texture. When it comes to making turkey gravy, nothing beats stock made from turkey feet that have been simmered until they fall apart. I do not stuff my bird when I roast it. Instead, I make dressing and bake it in the oven while the turkey is resting. For stuffing, I used a stale baugette, our onions & shallots, celery and locally-grown shitake mushrooms (thanks Jim!) sauted in my butter. It was all tossed together along with a few cups of that rich turkey feet stock and a pint of fresh Cheasapeake Bay oysters, topped with grated Ewe's Dream sheep cheese from Otterbein Acres and baked.
When I was growing up, it seemed like every year my grandma would forget to put the cranberry sauce on the table. That was just fine with me since it was the canned kind and not very appealing. When I began cooking at Wheeler Hot Springs Restaurant many, many moons ago, I was introduced into making real cranberry sauce to accompany turkey. It's quick, simple and so worth it. For mine, I used a bag of organic cranberries, a fresh pear, a handful of local cherries I had frozen earlier in the summer, some minced ginger and a half cup of raw sugar. Some people like to add nuts like pecans or pistachios. Simmer the whole mess until it starts to bubble & spit, stir a few times and put in a serving bowl. Don't refridgerate it since that really detracts from the flavor.
The other lucious goodies included in our Thanksgiving dinner were fresh brussel sprouts and purple carrots with a balsamic & white truffle reduction glaze (a gourmet prize from BB's), steamed brocoli and romanesco, mashed yellow sweet potatoes, a seven layer salad (thanks Mom), fresh biscuts made with the Carpenters' awesome lard and some quince butter I made a few weeks ago. Oh yes, and turkey feet gravy!

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