Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Butcher's Blog: Turkey Talk, Part 2

Thanksgiving is getting closer by the day.  Have you started planning?  I love planning holiday meals, holiday baking, holiday eating, holiday leftovers, you get the point.  Since the fourth Thursday of November is drawing near, I sat my hubby/butcher down and asked a few more questions about the topic of turkeys.  He was very patient with me and my constant interruptions while he was watching Castle. The word turkey isn't exactly his favorite word this time of year, especially when he has 40 plus deer waiting to be processed at the same time.  I think 16 of those were actually delivered today!  Like I have said before, we will see him in January. :) So, here we go. Turkey Talk:  Part II  (click here to view Turkey Talk: Part 1) There are various types of turkeys and for some people it may seem a bit overwhelming.  We decided on a few of the most common types and described them below.  I hope it is helpful. Organic Turkeys
  • The turkey is fed an all organic diet (which includes the following requirements)
    • all feed which the turkey ingests is certified organic by the USDA
    • no pesticides or herbicides can be used on the feed
    • no synthetic fertilizers can be used in the soil where the feed is produced
    • the feed was grown on land which had a 3 year dormant period
    • the seeds for the feed are also certifiably organic seeds
    • seeds are not GMO (genetically modified organisms)
Premium Brand Turkeys
  • This is the most common type of turkey sold at super markets, grocery stores, and small markets
  • minimally processed and without artificial ingredients
  • typically this type of turkey is fresh rather than frozen.  A fresh turkey has never been chilled below 26 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  • Toms are male turkeys.  Typically if you want to purchase a larger bird with a lot of breast meat you should go with a Tom.  Toms are typically around 18-20+lbs.
  • Hens are female turkeys and usually weigh much less than a Tom.  There is not a difference in taste when it comes to toms vs. hens, it really is just about the size.
Remember, these are not the only types of turkeys but the most common.

Switching gears a bit but still staying with the topic of turkeys, here are two important things to keep in mind when ordering from a butcher shop or meat market:
  1. You will need to place your order with a weight or size of the turkey in mind, knowing that the butcher will do his/her best to get close to that weight.  For example, if you order a 14lb. turkey you may receive a slightly larger or smaller bird based on what is delivered.  It is always best to up your estimate to insure you have enough for your guests.  The weight ranges are typically 12-14lbs., 16-18lbs., and so on.
  2. It is best to place your order as soon as you decide on your weight and number of guests.  Waiting until the last minute may mean you have to take what is left which may not be what you had in mind.  Let me put it to you this way, my husband was already taking customer orders for Thanksgiving turkeys in October.  Wow!
So, you may be wondering, what kind of turkey does our family eat?  We eat whatever turkey is usually left at the market and needs a "home".  About a week prior to Thanksgiving I begin reminding my husband not to sell our turkey.  He has told me the story many times of his family having enchiladas for Thanksgiving.  His dad sold every single turkey in the market including their turkey! :)  Personally, I think my husband gets a little enjoyment with that story and my reaction.  So, starting next week when he leaves for work in the morning, I will remind him, "Please don't sell our turkey."  His typical response will not be reassuring and most definitely mischievous.  :)

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