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Empire Kosher Turkey

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At my beloved A&P you can get the Empire turkey for "free" with a surcharge of 10c a pound. I am on my third bird this year, but an not making it for Thanksgiving, it is in the freezer for later. But I do have a question. I do not keep kosher, but the last two Empire turkeys I have used had purple bruises. I thought that was not acceptable. My mother saw both of these "raw" and said these were certainly not how they should be. Does anyone have any comments on this?

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  1. Purple bruises? Sounds like the folks at the slaughterhouse were playing a fun game of Kick the Turkey to while away the hours.

    12 Replies
    1. re: The Rogue

      I stopped buying Empire Kosher Turkeys because of the purple blotches and having to spend close to an hour with tweezers picking out the feathers that didn't get removed in processing.

      1. re: Susan H

        I spent an hour and a half, sans tweezers, feeling like an aesthetician in a poultry factory- why is there so much left to do with regards to feathers and quills? When I didn't keep kosher, I never had to "finish the job." Does anyone know why the plucking technology has not reached Empire kosher?

        1. re: Alyssa

          My understanding is that non-kosher plants will douse their poultry with scalding water to ease the feather removal process. However kosher plants may not do so, as it would be tantamount to cooking the bird before its blood has been removed.

          I personally find that a sharp knife and hot water make for easier home-plucking than tweezers.

          1. re: Beerhound

            Interesting enough I had only a few pin feathers which were removed in no time..but I hadn't noticed the skin on the breast was badly torn (the butcher had packed the 18 pound plus in a box). The other factor is that there were no giblets...just the neck. Next big turkey I'm going to double check before taking home, this seems to be a common problem.

            1. re: Parrot Mom

              The Empire Kosher Turkey wrapping warns that some giblets might be missing. I knew this, but never knew why. Just found an FAQ site that explains it. Not a problem for me since I now make the gravy ahead of time with purcashed legs and wings. I even noticed that this year Fairway sold giblets separately, presumably for exactly this purpose. Very convenient.

              Link: http://www.empirekosher.com/pages/faq...

              1. re: JoanN

                Thanks for the link to some very informative facts. Having read them, I now understand that Empire keeps its poultry indoors, uses antibiotics to "keep them healthy" (which I would argue would also help them grow better, obviously!), sells poultry that gets bruised in the "gathering" process, even though the bruised areas don't meet Empire's "quality or kashrut standards" ("just cut out the offending part" we are told, to avoid the blood), etc. etc.
                Not a very appealing scenario.
                Also, Empire claims a frozen turkey is the same in taste and quality as fresh. No way. It is obviously cheaper for Empire to freeze all turkeys and avoid the spoilage. Perhaps that is why our butcher was unable to obtain any fresh turkeys this year. Very frustrating. (Actually, I believe most of his poultry comes from Rabushkins in Postville, Ia.)
                We had a very feathery, frozen duck. Our butcher said that we could tell it was a Jewish duck---it was wearing a fur coat. It was very good.

                1. re: p.j.

                  Bleh. Thanks for the link. That was one of the least appealing FAQs I have ever read.

                  To paraphrase:

                  Question: "Why do you have a lousy product with all of these gross problems?"

                  Answer: "Because you are a captive audience."

          2. re: Alyssa

            Kosher birds are washed in cold water rather than hot.
            Besides being required by the kosher laws, this is *much* healthier - the hot water bath in which treife birds are washed is a prime breeding ground for salmonella. Because of the cold bath, kosher birds have a much lower incidence of salmonella (but not of campylobacter, so you still have to be careful).

            The disadvantage of the cold water bath is that the plucking method that has to be used is less efficient.

            1. re: Alyssa
              b
              Bertie Lightoller

              Hey, I thought I might be the only person to go through this experience! My friend spent the better part of an hour pulling out quills, pinfeathers and outright plumage before the turkey could be put into the oven. Good question,Alyssa, why DOES Empire send out turkeys that require all that sort of nonsense on the part of the consumer? Armour and all the other turkey processors seem able to address the plucking problem adequately, so yet another question: Why, oh why can't Empire do the same?

              1. re: Bertie Lightoller

                We we're having friend over for dinner (Thanksgiving in April being the theme)and being that we live in an highly populated jewish area... the grocery stores only sell Kosher turkey. We had no problem with this until we realized that it would become a major project. Thank god for the Tweezerman! Not only is it a great product for plucking eyebrows but it is coming in handy with our turkey. NEVER AGAIN!!!!

                1. re: Bertie Lightoller

                  We we're having friend over for dinner (Thanksgiving in April being the theme)and being that we live in an highly populated jewish area... the grocery stores only sell Kosher turkey. We had no problem with this until we realized that it would become a major project. Thank god for the Tweezerman! Not only is it a great product for plucking eyebrows but it is coming in handy with our turkey. NEVER AGAIN!!!!

            2. re: The Rogue

              i have bought empire kosher turkeys for many years. it is only in the past two years that i find their product to have many feathers and pin feathers left on them.