Because brown turkey drippings are just too mainstream.
December 1, 2014 2:37 PM   Subscribe

For the second year running, my delicious, heritage breed, Thanksgiving turkey has produced drippings that are a lovely shade of deep lavender. I mean, we eat it anyway, and the wonderful gelatin-rich jiggly stock we make with its carcass...but it's weird.

We use heritage breed turkey, but it's not like we get it from a local farmer or anything (I wish). I think it may have been a Mary's heritage turkey. There was nothing remotely abnormal about either turkey before they were cooked, no twine or foreign objects were used that might have had dye, and both the drippings in the pan and the fat rendered during stock simmering have the same crazy hue. I have googled to no avail. What gives??
posted by JuliaIglesias to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I am assuming you aren't using purple potatoes with it? That's what that color reminds me of.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:41 PM on December 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Was red wine involved at any point?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:45 PM on December 1, 2014

Maybe something about that particular pan is causing it?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:49 PM on December 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've had onions and garlic turn purple-ey under certain cooking conditions that I think have to do with pH. Did you use any red wine? If you don't reduce it first, it can turn things purple.
posted by quince at 2:54 PM on December 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Any garlic involved? The anthocyanins in it can turn blue/green/purple when it reacts with acid.
posted by quaking fajita at 2:55 PM on December 1, 2014 [5 favorites]

Are we sure that all of the organs were removed before cooking? Livers can be purple. Who knows what color would come out of a cooked giblet bag.
posted by goHermGO at 2:56 PM on December 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

You said a heritage breed turkey, right? What breed specifically?

I ask because there are breeds of chicken which are well known for having black meat, being heavily pigmented throughout the whole bird. It makes sense to me that there might be turkey breeds with similar qualities, and given that I know Silkie meat can be a purplish black... well, maybe there's your lavender. Should be totally safe to eat.
posted by sciatrix at 2:58 PM on December 1, 2014

For the second year running, my delicious, heritage breed, Thanksgiving turkey has produced drippings that are a lovely shade of deep lavender.

Heritage breeds usually have more dark meat, and so contain higher portions of red muscle (slow twitch) fibers than white muscle (fast twitch). These heritage breeds, in certain raising conditions, do a lot of walking, which would develop the thigh muscles (where the red muscles are predominantly located). In my copy of On Food And Cooking by Harold McGee, he writes that the
"principle pigment in meat is the oxygen-storing protein myoglobin, which can assume several different forms and hues depending on its chemical environment. Myoglobin consists of two connected structures: a kind of molecular cage with an iron atom at the center, and an attached protein. When the iron is holding onto a molecule of oxygen, myoglobin is bright red. When the oxygen is pulled away by enzymes in the muscle that need it, myoglobin becomes dark purple."1
Did the purple color survive making into stock and gravy?

1: McGee, Harold. "Meat: The Structure and Qualities of Meat." On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. New York: Scribner, 2004. 132. Print.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:20 PM on December 1, 2014 [8 favorites]

Did you peek inside the cavity to see if there was anything in there before putting it in the oven? (I say that as someone who has never made that mistake, ever, no way, not me.)
posted by mudpuppie at 4:44 PM on December 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you contacted the manager of the meat department of the store where you bought the bird? They can probably put you in contact with the people who raise and process the turkeys, who might have been fielding questions like this for decades.
posted by Mizu at 6:06 PM on December 1, 2014

Response by poster: Mizu: We will probably do this. It's just too weird to ignore for the second time.

the man of twists and turns: Ooooh, interesting. I have no idea if that's possible after the cooking, but maybe? The gravy was made with super intense stock made from the neck and some organs, rather than the drippings, and neither the stock from that, nor the gravy had any blue coloring.

Everyone else: nope, nothing but stuffing in the cavity, nothing remotely purple in the stuffing (not even any garlic, though some onion), no red wine used, and the meat did not start out even remotely blue, gray, or purple.

Frankly, I still suspect someone of using something with dye somewhere in the process that I don't know about; our Thanksgiving dinner has long been a group effort between my stepfather, mother, and me. Someone preps the turkey, someone else makes the stuffing, someone else stuffs it, etc. All tasks are rotated, so none of us really follows the process start to finish, save coordinating on cooking time. Currently, everyone denies any knowledge of blue dye...

The mystery continues.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 7:31 PM on December 1, 2014

Gelatin comes from bones and blood is created from bone marrow, which may have leached out during cooking.
posted by brujita at 11:26 PM on December 1, 2014

Holy. Shit.

I am a culinary professional*. I am aware of blue hued poultry and various chemical reactions in food. I would have FREAKED if I saw the drippings in you showed in your pics.

I have near ZERO love for Mary's "organic" poultry because too many times when butchering I have come across small pockets inside the meat of greenish goo - a parasite or tumor - I presume


PLEASE show your Meat Manager the pics and report back! I can't tell you how fascinated I am!!

I'm going to MeMail you this comment. I definitely want to know how it turns out!

*Sometimes I refer to myself as a "former culinary professional" but I am once again cooking for a living. I have a degree.
posted by jbenben at 1:02 AM on December 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

« Older A problem that must be addressed   |   (Give me more) writers writing about writing Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.