Are you in charge of the bird this Thanksgiving? If you’ve ever looked for the perfect Thanksgiving turkey it can be a little daunting. Whole Foods Devon and I teamed up to give you the scoop and answer the question “What turkey should I buy?”
Every need and budget is different but I love that I can walk in to Whole Foods and find out what farm the turkey came from and how it was raised. I can tell you that the turkeys at Whole Foods Devon come from Koch’s Turkey Farm in Tamaqua, PA.
What’s the turkey label mean?
Every store is a little different so you may not find some of these turkeys in another grocery store but here’s a quick list that details what the label on the turkey means. With names like heirloom, free range, organic, and kosher thrown around it can be hard to decide what holds value for you. Personal opinion here but I prefer to buy a better bird and spend a bit more money than the “redeem your points for a free turkey” deals. I am not a huge fan with the amounts of sodium, broth, etc. that are injected into a turkey to make it taste good.
- The best tasting turkey is a FRESH turkey. Everything tastes better when fresh not frozen, right? Why would a FRESH turkey be any different?
- ANTIBIOTIC-FREE – This is pretty self explanatory but this turkey has been raised without being given any antibiotics. This doesn’t mean it is organic or hasn’t been fed GMO feed. You still need to ask that question, but if nothing else matters to you, ANTIBIOTIC-FREE is absolutely a good option.
- ORGANIC – This turkey has to meet strict requirements, like making sure it only chooses to eat USDA approved organic feed. It is a rather picky turkey and so this means it not only must be ANTIBIOTIC-FREE but must be processed and packaged using strict USDA organic rules also. This turkey has become a customer favorite.
- HERITAGE – These old world breed turkeys are the closest to the wild turkeys Pilgrims reportedly ate that first Thanksgiving. They are succulent and rich flavored as they are raised slowly and traditionally. They also are a bit smaller and are single breasted, unlike modern turkey varieties so if you are feeding a crowd you just might want to get another bird, such as an ORGANIC turkey to “turkey up” your white meat. (See what I did there? It didn’t seem right to say “beef up”.)
- HEIRLOOM – These turkeys are raised as wild. They have a balanced mix between wild HERITAGE turkey breeds and modern breeds. They are still double breasted as many turkeys so have more white meat than the HERITAGE turkeys do.
- KOSHER – These turkeys have been inspected carefully by a rabbinical inspector to ensure each bird is a quality healthy turkey. Whole Foods’ turkeys are both Rabbi Babad and the Orthodox Union certified. These turkeys are already salted so you do not want to brine them.
- BRINED – Want a brined turkey? This gives you an ultra-moist meat. These turkeys have already been hand-brined so you don’t need to do the work at home.
Which turkey should I pick?
- SIZE – Buy 1 – 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per person. Add an extra 1/2 pound per person if you want leftovers. I say bigger’s always better. Leftovers and frozen premade turkey meat for soups and tacos are perfect for busy nights.
- FRESH or FROZEN – FRESH is best when it comes to flavor and there’s no hassle in trying to decide how long to defrost. However, if you have a FROZEN turkey or choose to freeze your turkey we have tips for defrosting it below.
- Reserve your turkey ahead of time to get best choice. Check with your local grocery store to see if they are accepting orders now or you can place your order here at Whole Foods.
- CONFUSED? Go into your local Whole Foods and talk to the butcher. He/She can help you choose the best turkey for you.
How do I prep the turkey?
- DEFROST – Figure defrost time at 24 hours per 5 pounds of turkey. It just might be easier to order your turkey FRESH.
- CHECK THE INSIDE – Is there a neck and giblets tucked inside? Pull them out before you roast that bird.
- RINSE IT -This can get a little silly looking but rinse that turkey inside and out. It may look a bit like dancing but just go for it.
- TIE IT UP – If you aren’t brining it, do this now. Use some cooking twine and tie those legs together. Unless you like that turkey being all sprawled out in the pan and looking funky. Want pretty pictures? This is a must.
- BRINE – Soak your turkey in a saltwater solution for 4 – 24 hours before roasting your turkey. Here’s a basic brining recipe.
- ROAST – Cooking guidelines are printed on the package for a reason. Each turkey type cooks a bit differently so follow instructions carefully.
- DONE – Use a meat thermometer to test the thickest part of the thigh. Don’t let it touch the bone! When it registers 165°F, the turkey’s ready. If you stuff your turkey, plan for an extra 5 to 7 minutes of cooking time per pound.
- REST IT – Let your turkey rest for approximately 30 minutes to allow the juices to settle through the turkey, lock in moisture, and make slicing smoother.
- SLICE IT – Sharpen that knife and carve your turkey. This step by step guide shows you how to carve a turkey properly.