My whole life I have enjoyed legs more than breasts. There is something very primal about sinking your teeth into nice juicy golden brown skin and ripping the meat from the bone.
I have always preferred the more tender dark meat of turkey legs over the dry white meat of the breast portion. When I was a kid I usually had to fight my oldest brother for the leg because both he and my mother liked the dark meat as much as I did. Thankfully my mom would usually let me have her leg and she would go for the thigh meat. This was fortunate because my brother was twice my size and he would always win.
My childhood is full of memories of when I used to help my mother prepare the bird. We would first take the giblets out and set them aside for gravy that she would make later. Then she would put the bird in the sink and get a chair and tell me to rinse the bird really well. This was quite difficult for a few years since the bird was usually over 25lbs and I was only about 6 years old when I first started helping her. Now that I have kids I can appreciate the hilarity of watching me try to muscle this bird under the water when it was almost as big as I was.
The next thing we would do is get it into the pan and butter the bird. My mom would put the bird on the counter and give me 3 sticks of softened butter and tell me to paint it until it was covered. This was one of those confusing moments as a kid where you cannot believe what your parent is telling you. Smearing butter on a turkey is better than playing with Play Dough or making mud pies. To a young boy who likes to get dirty there is nothing better than handfuls of butter.
While I was buttering the bird she would be preparing the stuffing and then we would both take turns shoving handfuls of stuffing into the bird. After that we would tie up the legs and she would season the bird with salt, pepper and sage. She never let me help put the aluminum foil tent on (probably cause I would rip it) and then into the oven it would go. She always made sure to cook the bird with the breast side down to let the juices saturate the meat. I never understood why she would take extra steps for meat that I didn’t like but my other brother ate only white meat so I suppose she had to think of him too.
I guess the breast meat has its place in life too. The next day after thanksgiving the white meat makes some of the best turkey and gravy sandwiches. I think it’s because it is easier to slice into sandwich size pieces. I wouldn’t mind a dark meat sandwich but there never seemed to be any dark meat left over from the day before.