Truly Fresh: Live Meat, By Chef Lance Avery

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As we go upon our daily, busy lives, rarely do we stop and wonder where all our food comes from. But now in cities, where the hustle and bustle is greatest, one is finding a purely fresh food alternative from the fast and convenient: live meat. Not fresh frozen, not IQF, not even fresh but live, warm, just killed. In cities where delivery is king, where often meals are eaten in front of a computer or television, these same cities house the counter culture trend.  Farm to fork trends are now commonplace where city restaurant chefs are preparing 7-8 course meals at a near city farms and inviting guests to participate in understanding where our food comes from and who makes it. Farmer’s markets are at all time popularity. While there’s the trend to get a burger for $1 and has food miles of over 1,000, there is also this opposite, opposing trend to seek out real food, local and fresh.
As a chef, I am constantly evaluating ingredients, methods and my own cooking skills. The first time I made a basic chicken stock from the bones of mature male bird (called a capon) from a local live poultry shop, I realized I have been doing it all wrong, for so many years. What made this stock superior to any other I have ever tasted? The bones. These bones were big which translated into big flavor. Simply put, what you put in the water is what you get out. Quality bones = quality stock.
I’ve cooked the truly fresh live trend several times lately. One of most memorable experiences was last Thanksgiving. A few days prior to the big day I decided to pick up my turkey en-route from work. Biking with a freshly killed turkey in ones backpack is a captivating memory. Still very warm, the turkey is a constant reminder to the rider that something is quite different from a typical ride home from work. That turkey changed the way I will forever prepare a Thanksgiving meal. It was the finest bird I’ve ever tasted on Thanksgiving or any meal for that matter.
The Recipe:
1 fresh hot bird (soaks up more marinade if warm and if fresh) is marinated for at least 24 hours, but can be marinated up to 3 days.
Brine:
4 cups water
¾ cup kosher salt
5 Bay leaves
15 Peppercorns
12 cloves garlic
2 onions, quartered
¾ cup sugar
½ cup tamari soy sauce
5 lbs. ice cubes
Directions: Bring the water to a boil. Add the remaining ingredients, except the ice, and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and combine the ice with the boiling water in a large stock pot. Let stand until the ice is melted. Add the bird to the liquid and make sure the entire bird is covered. Refrigerate until you are ready to cook.
Dry Rub:
½ cup Sea Salt, course
3 T. Black Pepper, fresh ground
2 T. Smoked Paprika
2 T. Granulated Garlic
2 T. Granulated Onion
EVOO, as needed
Turkey Preparation:
Buy the smallest turkey that you can buy, or buy the one that you like the most, it’s live you know.  While the bird is still warm, soak the bird in the cold brine for at least 12 hours, but no more than 48 hours. Once you’ve finished brining, remove and stick on a spit as evenly as possible. Tie in the legs and wings as tightly as possible using butcher twine. Turn your grill on low and rotisserie your bird for ½ hour. After that first ½ hour, brush the bird generously with EVOO inside and out, then sprinkle inside and out with the rub. Cook on the rotisserie for an additional 4-5 hours, rubbing the entire bird every ½ hour until the internal temperature reaches 165F. Remove the bird from the grill/spit and let rest for at least 30 minutes. No drippings? Don’t worry; you don’t need gravy when you have properly cooked turkey.

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