Accidents and Turkey

My apologies for being a bit MIA lately.

You never know when a second can change your life entirely.

It was a few months ago, when I was helping out in clinic. A patient had to be emergently transferred to the intensive care unit, and I offered to help, as I knew the fastest way there.

We raced through the hospital, weaving around corners, up and down multiple elevators, across many halls, before we arrived and safely dropped the patient off and told the story to the physicians about to take over for the care.

And then, while heading back, it happened.

While loading the bed onto the elevator, my left hand got smashed between it and the elevator wall.

It was instantly gigantic and purple. The next day, I found my fifth digit was broken, and a week later (once a bit of the swelling had gone down), I found out the joint was broken too, in addition to the tendons being ripped off and the finger being numb from the nerve damage.

For the three weeks, my boyfriend commented that my hand resembled that of Aunt Marge from Harry Potter (once he accidentally blows her up). After that, it looked like Dumbledore’s after he touched a horcrux. Sweet of him, I know (but in return, I didn’t have to clean the house….but I couldn’t cook, either!!!).

Now, for those of you that don’t know, almost all of anesthesia involves the use of one’s left hand. Which is why I thought long and hard. I had to have a lot of conversations and figure out what was best for me.

As of now, I’m officially a resident in internal medicine, instead of anesthesia. I’m fairly happy with the choice- I really debated between the two specialties, and this gives my hand a better chance at healing. At the end of the day, we all go into medicine to help people, and I still get to do that.

And this whole experience has made me really thankful for fingers.

Accident-Free Maple Bacon Brined Turkey

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It’s okay to break these bones.

Ingredients for the Brine
– 1 gallon water
– 3 whole carrots, broken in pieces
– 2 onions, quartered, skins on
– 3 stalks celery, broken in pieces
– 1 head garlic, sliced in half
– 1 apple, quartered
– 1 pear, quartered
– 2 bay leaves
– 1 cinnamon stick
– 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
– 2 tsp whole allspice
– 1 tbsp parsley (I freeze mine in ice cubes at the end of the summer)
– 4 leaves whole sage
– 1 tbsp oregano
– 1 tbsp thyme
– 1 sprig rosemary
– 1/2 c brown sugar
– 3/4 c kosher salt

Ingredients for the Bird
– 1 turkey
– Softened butter
– 1 lb bacon
– Real maple syrup
– Salt
– Pepper
– Poultry seasoning
– favorite recipe stuffing of your choice

Ingredients for the Gravy
– Pan drippings
– 2-3 c chicken broth
– 1/4 c all- purpose flour
– 1/2 c white wine

How-to
1) For the brine, add all of the ingredients to a stock pot except the brown sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer for 1 hour, then add sugar and salt. Let cool.
2) Line a bucket with a garbage bag. Pour in stock pot mixture. Add in additional 1 gallon ice water and ice to bring mixture to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Add in turkey (weigh down with a pot lid so it doesn’t float, if necessary) and brine up to 18 hours.
3) The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4) Remove bird from water and pat dry.
5) Make stuffing.
6) Rub bird with softened butter, then sprinkle liberally inside and out with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Apply stuffing. Place turkey in roasting pan.
7) Tent breast of bird with foil and let cook for 1 hour.
8) After 1 hour, begin basting with maple syrup every 30 minutes.
9) After 2 hours, weave bacon into lattice. Place on turkey breast. Return to oven and continue basting every 30 minutes with maple syrup.
10) Turkey is ready when an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (don’t hit bone!) reads 170 degrees.
11) Remove turkey from pan and let rest for 20-30 minutes.
12) Place pan on stove burners on medium high heat (I normally spread mine over two). Sprinkle in flour and scrape up browned bits on pan. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, then begin whisking in white wine, then chicken broth until it reaches your desired consistency.

Eat and enjoy!

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Ham and Bacon…or Why I’m No Longer a Vegetarian

Starting in middle school, I became a vegetarian.  A lot of it was for health reason,s combined with an unfortunately assigned report on meat-packing plants (not the best choice for a city girl like myself who pretended that all meat originated at the grocery story).

I was a vegetarian for 6 years.  I still ate dairy and seafood, but I had no meat during that whole time. In general I thought it was pretty easy, even with living in the midwest and our lack of vegetables in the winter.

And then, one year in high school, my mother made a ham for Christmas dinner.  Now, back in my meat-eating days, I LOVED ham.  And bacon. And pork chops.  It was pretty much a guarantee that if it came from a pig, I’d probably have eaten it.

The memory is a bit hazy, but I remember walking into the kitchen, led by the smell of that brown-sugar glazed ham.  No one else was around but me. Without hesitating, I first ate one piece, and then another, and then another…until my mother eventually walked into the kitchen…

“Oh my god you just ate half the ham.  OH MY GOD MARC MEGAN IS EATING MEAT!!!!!  SINCE WHEN DO YOU EAT MEAT???  OH THANK GOD YOU CAN EAT LIKE THE REST OF US AGAIN!!”

Yes, most of that was said in a shriek. I had, after all, eaten nearly half a ham.  Quite surprisingly  I didn’t feel sick later at all (though attempting to eat poultry or steak again was a wholeeeeee different story).

Spicy Glazed Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Ingredients

  • 1 package thick-sliced bacon, rashers cut into thirds
  • 2 cans whole water chestnuts
  • 1/4 c barbecue sauce
  • 3 tbsp sriracha sauce (also known as rooster sauce- can add more to taste if you like them really spicy)
  • 3 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut bacon slices (rashers are the technical term) into thirds.  Wrap each water chestnut in 1/3 piece bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place onto a shallow roasting pan lined with aluminum foil (makes for easier cleanup).
  3. Bake water chestnuts for approximately 40 minutes or until the bacon is a golden brown.
  4. While water chestnuts are in the oven, mix together the barbecue sauce, sriracha, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and pepper. Taste and adjust flavorings to taste (more salty- more Worcestershire, more spice- more sriracha, more sweet- more brown sugar, more tang- more soy sauce).
  5. When bacon is golden, remove from oven. Remove water chestnuts from pan and place onto paper towels to drain. Discard grease in roasting pan.
  6. Dip each water chestnut into the sauce mixture and place back on the roasting pan. Return to oven for approximately 15-20 minutes.  Serve with remaining dipping sauce.

If you’d like, you can skip steps 5 & 6 and use this method instead.  Remove water chestnuts from oven and place into a small crock-pot on high.  Pour sauce on top and gently toss to coat.  Heat in crock pot for 30 minutes, then turn heat to low for serving purposes right out of the crock pot!