You might not think of turkey necks as something to roast or prepare, but if frugality rules, you may reconsider and fix a turkey neck for dinner. Although you'll find inedible tendons interlaced with the edible meat, there is enough meat to make it worth cooking. The kids may even prefer it when you cook it carefully so it becomes tender.
If you purchase a whole turkey, you will usually find the turkey neck inside the neck cavity at the top of the bird. Simply pull out the neck and place it onto a preparation surface. Your grocery store may also sell turkey necks packaged with several together in a package. Necks may be whole or the store may cut them in half before packaging.
Preparing the Necks
Cut whole necks in half lengthwise to make it easier to fit them into your Dutch oven. Season the turkey necks with standard poultry seasonings, according to your tastes. If you enjoy tarragon, dill or rosemary on poultry, feel free to add any of these dry herbs to coarse salt and pepper and rub the seasonings in generously to the outside surfaces of the necks before cooking. A packet of salad dressing mix is an easy go-to seasoning for meat.
Sauteing then simmering will create flavorful neck meat that nearly falls off the bone after cooking. Brown the neck in hot oil first and remove it from the Dutch oven. If you want to add various vegetables to the simmering pot, saute them after you brown the turkey neck. Vegetables like onion, celery, potatoes, carrots and garlic are suitable additions to the pot. After sauteing the vegetables, return the neck to the pot and add just enough water to cover the turkey neck. Simmer the ingredients for about two hours.
Using the Meat
Remove the cooked turkey neck from the liquid and let it cool at room temperature. When the neck is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the neck, separating it from the tendons carefully. Collect the meat on a cutting board and dice it into small pieces. Return the meat to the liquid and vegetables to create soup. Add additional ingredients such as broth, corn, green beans or peas. Thicken the soup by mixing cornstarch with cold water and adding it slowly to the simmering liquid.
- Chef John Folse & Company: Smothered Turkey Necks in Onion Gravy Smothered Turkey Necks in Onion Gravy
- "Thanksgiving 101"; Rick Rodgers, et. al.; 2007
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