Let's talk turkey: Gozzi, Jaindl, Eberly, Murray or something else?
I'm making Thanksgiving dinner for 14 and love doing it. It's a labor of love, and my favorite holiday.
What troubles me every year is deciding what turkey to get. So many choices. I nix the Butterball and supermarket brands, and anything frozen, preferring to serve something a step up. (But maybe I shouldn't be so dismissive?)
Last year I cooked a Gozzi turkey which came from a turkey farm in Connecticut. It was very good.
The year before I cooked an Eberly organic turkey. It was very good.
Before that it was an Empire Kosher. It was very good but the feathers bothered me. It took my husband and I an hour to remove a lot of excessive pinfeathers with tweezers and pliers.
I was looking around supermarkets today. Stew Leonard's has a lot to choose from including their own natural brand, as well as some pre-brined ones. (I've been there done that when it comes to brining. I doubt I'll do it this year.)
A nice little market near my office is taking orders for Murray turkeys, which the store owner says are excellent quality. There's a Trader Joe's nearby, not sure what turkeys they are selling.
A local newspaper did a recent turkey taste test and Jaindl came out on top.
I'm not interested in going the Heritage route. Anyone have any suggestions?
I am going with the Jaindl Farms Grand Champion this year! I will be wet brining it, I get a free turkey from work (which I donate) every year. Also giving the turkey from the supermarket away to the needy. I hear the Jaindl is the preferred turkey at the White House for four decades (that's why I am choosing it this year). I know this does not answer your question just happens to be my choice this year> I guess I'll post after the fact how it came out!
If your only goal is how delicious the bird will be, you don't have to spend a lot or get any special kind of bird at all. Any frozen supermarket bird will do. My local store has both basted/brined/injected and unbasted/all-natural birds, frozen, for 29 cents a pound this week.
Wanting to go a "step up" is fine but it won't necessarily buy you a juicier or more flavorful bird. It's all in the prep. In fact, Cook's Illustrated has pointed out that the way "fresh, never frozen" birds are stored may lead to them being drier upon cooking, and that has in fact been my experience.
I don't want to get into the social benefits of organic and free range vs. conventional, but in my experience they don't taste any different, and numerous blind tastings nationwide back this up. Where there is a difference is with the brining and salting, which is why the Empire Kosher birds tend to test well.