This week of us will find ourselves standing at butcher shops, supermarkets, and farmers’s market, once again confronted, as we are each November, with every conceivable type of turkey : fresh, frozen, free-range, organic, kosher, natural, heritage, self-basting, wild. Most cookbooks suggest allowing about a pound of turkey per person, I recommend two pounds. if you want leftovers, that is

Here are some facts that will help your decision, and don’t forget we offer a wide array of to-go items from full meals to individual items. It is also not too late for a local Pasture Raised Heritage bird for this Thanksgiving!

Give me a call at 330-995-3132

Cheers

Chef Pete

 

Natural

“Natural” is a very loosely regulated term for a bird that, technically, contains no “artificial ingredients” or “added color.” This doesn’t mean, however, that the turkey hasn’t been treated with antibiotics or growth hormones. In reality, this term doesn’t mean much of anything.

Organic

A turkey that’s labeled ‘organic’ has been certified by a USDA-accredited certifying agency. The term assures that the bird wasn’t treated with antibiotics, given growth hormones, or raised on a diet containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Frozen

A frozen bird is, by law, one that’s stored below 0°F. That’s right. Not the temperature empirically associated with freezing, but well below that. Bear in mind that thawing a “frozen” bird takes some planning. Working backward from Thanksgiving, allow one day in the refrigerator for every four to five pounds of turkey. That means a 16-pound turkey will require four days or so to thaw completely.

Not Previously Frozen

Technically, any turkey that’s been held between 26°F and 0°F can be labeled “not previously frozen

Fresh

The simple word “fresh” takes on a complex definition in terms of turkeys. According to the USDA, a fresh turkey is one that’s never been kept below 26°F. I’m not the only one to find this definition evasive.  Makes you wonder how “fresh” the turkeys at your local supermarket truly are.

Basted or Self-Basting Turkeys

These birds many  have been injected with a solution containing butter or other edible fats, broth, water, spices, flavor enhancers, and/or the vaguely described “other approved substances.” The resulting texture can often be mushy.

Kosher

A kosher bird is one that’s been processed according to kosher laws under rabbinical supervision. The turkey is first soaked in water for half an hour, then packed in kosher salt and set aside to allow the blood to drain, then rinsed and rinsed and rinsed to remove all trace of salt.

Wild

If pulling buckshot from your dinner is your style, then sure, go for a wild turkey. Just be warned that it’s going to be gamier and drier than what you’re accustomed to eating.

Free-Range

A turkey labeled “free-range” has had access to the outdoors. That doesn’t mean its living conditions weren’t deplorable. It simply means the bird had an egress. And just because a bird has access to the outside doesn’t mean it will take it. To put this in context, many industrial facilities jam tens of thousands of birds together, which is detrimental not only to the birds’ health, often requiring the need for antibiotics, but also to the quality of their shapely legs and luscious breasts.

Pasture-Raised

A pasture-raised turkey is reared in pastures full-time, which gives it free reign to amble as it pleases and to rummage for grubs and bugs and other other real nourishment, as opposed to GMO-tainted grains. Turkeys allowed to roam freely and forage for food are healthier and happier (and, as a result, better-tasting. Period.

Heritage

Heritage turkeys are the Rolls-Royce of gobblers and my pick for best bird. Once teetering on the edge of extinction, these birds are descendants of the first domesticated turkeys in this country, Heritage birds tend to be pastured-raised. Perhaps just as important is the fact that they’re allowed 26 to 28 weeks to mature, twice as long as it takes factory-farmed birds to reach the same size.All this genetic preservation and catering-to assures a deeper, more intense, more distinctive flavor and a firmer texture compared to industrial-grown, chemical-tasting, self-basting birds. Heritage turkeys are delicious.

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