Friday, June 16, 2006

Let's Talk Turkey

In last week's article I listed that the best turkey may be found at the Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant and Smorgasbord in Bird-In-Hand, Pennsylvania (located on Route 340 in Lancaster County). To explain why I like this turkey so much I have to relate a little story.

My wife and I are living historians - reenactors of the American revolutionary war period (the 18th Century). A few years ago we were at the reenactment of the Battle of Monmouth - this is Monmouth, New Jersey. The event was the 225th anniversary of this battle. We were in an encampment that we were sharing with our unit and a "sister" unit. The ladies from the "sister" unit were cooking with the help of my wife. Dinner was being cooked over a large, open camp fire. On the menu were rolls of beef and turkey. The turkey was cooked in a large pot over the fire. In the pot was a whole, large turkey and some vegetables. When it was time to eat and I went over to the turkey expecting a roast-looking turkey. What I found was a turkey floating in a full pot of liquid- as if it had been boiled. Oh my, I thought. This is not going to be good. I like turkey, but I do not think that I will like boiled turkey. I reached into the pot with a serving fork and poked at the turkey. The meat came falling away from the bone. I took several chunks and put it on my plate. With a bit of reluctance I tasted it. OH MY! This was delicious. This was the best turkey that I have ever had and I really like turkey. It was moist. It was tasty. It was tender. I went to my wife and asked how was the turkey made? She said that as far as she saw it just cooked in the pot for the afternoon. I asked her if it was boiled and she said that she did not think so. I pointed out that the pot was full of liquid. I told her that she must talk to the other women and ask what the recipe was.

Well, it took a while for my wife to find out how that turkey was cooked - and when she found out (almost a year later) it turned out that the lady who cooked it really did not know herself. She said that it definitely was not boiled. She recalled just putting the turkey in the pot with cabbage and some other vegetables and letting it cook. Apparently, the vegetables put out the liquid - as no other liquid had been added to the pot. She said that she just put it all in and hoped for the best - well the best is what we got - but as to duplicate this - not so much a recipe but a recollection. Now why did I tell you this long, non-buffet related story? I figured that I would never have that good turkey again.

And then I went to the Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant and Smorgasbord. On their buffet table are two serving trays of fresh turkey. One is dark meat and the other is light (white) meat. It is covered in a liquid broth. Hmm, you might think - wet turkey. Not so good. Well, let me tell you that this turkey tastes just like the one at the encampment - wonderful! It is moist. It is fresh. Is is not some carved, dry turkey breast. It is not sliced turkey layed dry in a tray. It is a real turkey, less the bones and every good part of the turkey. It is better than a whole roast turkey carved from the frame to your plate. It is the best! There is gravy on the side of the buffet for the turkey - it adds to it, but it is really not necessary.

If you are in the Lancaster County area, make an effort to get to Bird-In-Hand (quaint name, right- very Pennsylvania Dutch!) and go to this restaurant. Choose the buffet just for the turkey. Of course, there are lots of other good things to find there - as I have reported before.

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