It’s almost Thanksgiving (the real one- sorry American readers!), and here at The Farm we’re dreaming of herby stuffing, buttery potatoes, and – of course – perfectly roasted turkeys. The first step to end up with a beautiful bird on your table is knowing exactly what to look for when you’re picking one out. Read below for our tips on what to look for when selecting your Thanksgiving turkey!
You generally want one and a half pounds of bone-in turkey per person, but you can go up to two pounds if you want to have leftovers. If you have to feed a lot of people, we’d generally recommend buying two smaller birds rather than one large one; a 20 pound turkey is difficult to cook evenly and is generally much more difficult to work with. Also, keep in mind your oven size, and the size of your roasting pan. The last thing you want to deal with on Thanksgiving day is a bird that’s too big for your oven to handle!
2. Fresh or frozen?
A fresh turkey means you don’t have the luxury of purchasing it far in advance, but in our opinion the pros of a truly fresh turkey almost always outweigh the cons; the flavour if usually better and you’re much more likely to have meat that holds its moisture. If you do buy a frozen turkey, make sure you plan to defrost in your fridge for at least 24 hours before cooking for every five pounds of turkey.
3. Natural, Free range, Kosher, Organic, or Heritage
The type of turkey you should pick depends on what matters most to you; are you looking to get a great deal? Do you want a turkey that was humanely raised? Is taste and texture the most important thing? Typically, the cheapest birds will be natural turkeys, and their flavour is usually quite nice. The most expensive option would be a Heritage turkey; this breed of turkey has always been raised on farms and can trace their lineage back to the pilgrims, so in most cases they’ve been humanely raised and processed. The flavour on Heritage turkeys is notably superior- but remember that their lower fat content means they’ll take less time to cook.
Bonus Tip: To brine or not to brine?
Brining may sound like a great idea, but while brining will add liquid to your turkey it will also dilute its flavour. Because of an effect called “salting out,” salt will selectively move into the bird, while larger flavourful molecules will be excluded. We recommend selecting a fresh, flavourful turkey breed and skipping the brine!
Still feeling overwhelmed? Give us a call and let our team take all the guesswork out of Thanksgiving dinner this year (and make you look really good in front of your in-laws)!