Today we're kicking off a week of Thanksgiving recipes here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. Most of us are heading to the grocery store to buy a turkey this week, so I thought I'd start with some information to help us all understand what we're buying.
Next Saturday, I'll post about the basics of brining and roasting a turkey. If you're picking up a turkey and you plan to brine it, don't forget to buy a box of Kosher salt.
Heritage turkeys are probably the most expensive turkeys you'll find. Considered by many to be the cream of the crop, they supposedly have a richer flavor, are moister, and have a preferred texture. Most turkeys you'll find in the grocery store are broad-breasted white turkeys. Heritage turkeys include breeds like Narragansett, Bourbon Red, and Jersey Buff. These birds are often organic and free-range as well. You'll note that I said "supposedly" above. These birds come with a hefty price tag ranging from $95 to $225. I have not eaten one so I can't claim to know if they actually are better. Most heritage turkey farmers take orders very early in the fall, so you may have trouble finding one now, although some specialty stores may have ordered extras. One of my favorite sources of local foods is http://www.localharvest.org and you might still find one there.
ORGANIC TURKEYSApparently, the label "organic" is evolving, at least where turkeys are concerned. A bit of research indicates that the label means, at the very least, that the turkeys have been fed organic feed, have had access to outdoors, and no antibiotics have been administered. Hormone use is prohibited in all poultry, so that shouldn't be an issue in any turkey. Organic turkeys are generally available between $30 and $80 depending on the size.
KOSHER TURKEYSKosher turkeys are slaughtered in a method designed to rid the bird of blood. They are prepared under Rabbinical supervision and salted. Because of the salting, these birds should not be brined, but are often considered superior in flavor.
FRESH VS. FROZENFresh food is always better than frozen (well, except for ice cream!). But frozen turkeys are perfectly good. You simply have to remember to thaw them well in advance. Don't worry, you'll get a reminder from me next Saturday when I tackle the basics of roasting.