Your Thanksgiving Bird: Everything you need to know (Plus some!) | Wednesday’s In the Know!
When it comes to selecting the perfect bird for your Thanksgiving feast, there’s a lot to consider! From preference on flavor, size and quality, it’s good to understand the available options from which you can make your decision.
When to order your turkey! If you have a specific type of turkey in mind, 2 – 3 weeks is a safe bet. Given Thanksgiving is less than 3 weeks from today, you may want to place that order ASAP! If you aren’t looking for a specific type of turkey and are flexible with the size, then consider picking up your frozen turkey at your local grocery store 1 week before T-day! On average, depending on the size of the bird of course, a week in the fridge is ample time to safely defrost a frozen bird.
How big? On average, plan on 1 pound of turkey per each grown adult. This should allow ample leftovers too!
How much time should I allow to defrost my turkey? General rule of thumb, allow 1 day for 4 pounds.
There are so many choices to choose from! What’s the difference between organic, free-range, kosher, etc.?
- Free-range: This is a bird that is not raised in a cage and is free to graze on any grasses or grains it can find in its pen, which is generally considered a more humane and healthy poultry farming process.
- Organic: The U.S.D.A. requires that all turkeys sold as organic must be raised free-range, without the use of antibiotics, and fed an organic and vegetarian diet that has not been treated with pesticides.
- Natural: Natural turkeys are generally less expensive than organic, and are often of a comparable quality. But there is no government guarantee to back up the word “natural” on a label. You must read on to find out if the bird is antibiotic-free, free-range and/or raised on a vegetarian diet.
- Kosher: Turkeys with the “kosher” label have been farmed and slaughtered according to Jewish dietary customs, with rabbinical supervision. They also undergo a salting process after slaughter that gives the meat a juicy texture. (Don’t brine a kosher bird.)
- Conventional: This is the standard supermarket turkey. The variety is the Broad Breasted White, which was bred to have a plumper, broader breast. A conventional turkey should be brined; it will noticeably improve the texture. And use an open hand when it comes to seasonings, since the turkey won’t offer much flavor of its own.
- Heritage: Heritage turkeys are old-fashioned varieties of birds that were common in America until the 1920s. They have a richer, more distinct flavor, more like a game bird, and have a greater proportion of dark meat. Breeds include Narragansett, Jersey Buff, Standard Bronze, Bourbon Red and White Holland.
- Wild Turkey: It is illegal in the United States to sell a truly wild turkey that’s been shot by a hunter, thus most “wild” turkeys on the market are pasture-raised — often free-range heritage birds. To procure a truly wild turkey you will need to either shoot one yourself or befriend a hunter.
- Self-basting: These turkeys have been injected with a solution generally consisting of butter or oil and salt, and sometimes herbs, spices and preservatives. Self-basted turkeys are sometimes not labeled as such, so make sure to check the ingredients list. If you see anything other than “turkey,” chances are it is a self-basting bird. Do not brine it.
Now that you have the skinny on your Thanksgiving Turkey, head on over to my website TheTableTogether.com for my ultimate (and super easy) Thanksgiving Turkey recipe as well as dozens of great classic Thanksgiving sides and desserts – like my pumpkin pie with gingersnap crust – to accompany. While there, consider “subscribing” and I will send a new tip or blog post directly to your inbox every Tuesday and Wednesday morning!
P.S. Make sure you check out my YouTube channel, The Table Together with Tiffany Lewis, solely dedicated to bringing all of these fantastic tips and recipes to life!
Cheers to starting a new tradition around The Table Together!
Founder and true believer in the power of bringing people around The Table Together!