Birds, Burgers and Banter – My Day As A Butcher Part 2

29 Nov

It’s official, Christmas is coming. Almost every shopping centre in Northern Ireland is twinkling under thousands of lights; Fairytale of New York is on the radio at least twice a day; and filler conversation has morphed from “It’s getting dark very early, isn’t it?‘ to ‘Have you finished your Christmas Shopping yet?’

When I think of Christmas, I think of a few things; family, friends, presents, hot port and turkey. I’ve cooked many a Christmas dinner over the years but if I’m honest, I’ve never given much thought to how the bird makes its way from the butchers into my oven tray (plus mum usually buys it, so I couldn’t even tell you where she gets ours from).

When, during my day as a butcher at Murphy’s Butchers on Belfast’s Lisburn, owner Michael McCormick asked me if I would like to learn how to ‘dress a turkey,’ I was slightly bafffled. Thankfully, I resisted the urge to start talking about potential poultry fashion trends and bit my tongue, waiting for the explanation, which was quickly forthcoming.

‘To Dress a turkey,’ Michael explained, is essentially to gut it. Lovely.

Now for my pictorial account of my experience of ‘dressing a turkey’ at Murphy’s, under the ever-watchful and expert eyes of legendary Belfast butcher, Michael McCormick. Again, many thanks to the wonderful Alice Woods, who, much to her credit, was by my side capturing all of this, as it unfolded. (I’m going to try a picture gallery for this post – still getting to grips with WordPress but would welcome feedback on which style you think works best).

A further post on the banter-fuelled day of being a butcher will follow shortly. But for now, here are the money shots.

*Disclaimer: As before, if you’re of a sensitive disposition when it comes to blood and gore, navigate away from this page now…*

I may never look at my Christmas dinner in quite the same way again. You may expect me to say that I’ve sworn off a festive feast of turkey and all the trimmings after this experience but, in fact, quite the opposite is true.

Whilst it wasn’t actually MY Christmas turkey I was preparing, it was satisfying to see the bird as something other than a cellophane wrapped plucked carcass; to make the connection that it was once a living creature. This might sound strange, cruel or even morbid to some people, particularly vegetarians but (aside from the smell, which I’m not sure I’ll ever forget), I found the experience of taking that bird – with its head, feet and feathers still in tact – and preparing it with my own hands into a ready-to-roast Christmas turkey quite an experience.

Now, where’s the cranberry sauce?

2 Responses to “Birds, Burgers and Banter – My Day As A Butcher Part 2”

  1. Charlotte November 29, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    Sinead, I’m hooked on this blog already! Loving the butcher tales. Your turkey experience takes me back to my student days when I worked in a very unglamorous poultry factory cutting chicken fillets and tying chickens legs together to sit neatly on a plastic tray.

    Keep up the great work! Can’t wait for the next instalment.

    C x

    • sineadd November 29, 2011 at 11:52 pm #

      Thanks Charlotte – really enjoying it & the challenges are certainly stacking up – looks like it’s going to be a busy year ahead!

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