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Nov 4, 2013 10:26 AM

What kind of turkey are you buying this year?

What kind of turkey will be in your oven this year? Any turkey that weighs the right amount, heritage, heirloom, kosher, free range?

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  1. Ok, I'll throw myself out there and admit my turkey will be an 18 pounder, plus or minus a few ounces, from Costco. Over the years, I've purchased my share of heirloom, organic, farm raised birds. And you know, despite wishing it were so, I have never felt they were equal to, much less better than, the Costco birds. At 4 to 6 times the price, at least.

    6 Replies
    1. re: tcamp

      I'm pondering the regular natural turkey from Whole Foods I bought last year which was great or the temptation of trying either an heirloom or organic free range. It's only for two of us but I'm planning probably an 18-20 lber since we are both turkey fans and it's all we eat for a week plus it's nice to freeze to have for a month or so.

      1. re: fldhkybnva

        Maybe you could buy smaller versions of each and do a comparison? On turkey day, I usually eat a drumstick (not to mention skin while the bird is "resting"). My main goal in life, Thanksgiving-wise, is to generate leftovers and strip the carcass down so I can make soup.

        1. re: tcamp

          I imagine that could be fun and interesting though perhaps a hassle :)

        2. re: fldhkybnva

          I'm glad to hear you like the WF all natural turkey, fldhkybnva . I've been thinking about ordering their organic turkey this week-end, probably 14 lbs. Maybe I'll order the all natural one instead. We're only 2 here as well, but an 18 lb. bird would be slightly overkill for us. I'll still have meat left over for sandwiches and certainly the carcass will go toward turkey soup. We can always buy another should the craving persist after Thanksgiving.

          1. re: Gio

            I was super-duper happy with the natural turkey last year, the bottom line turkey nothing special in their list of choices. However, it might have been the cooking method I used but either way I'd recommend it. We are serious turkey eaters so in 4 days can demolish an 18 lb bird embarrassingly enough but that consists of turkey being used in most meals and turkey is usually 1/2 of our Thanksgiving plates. It's always easy to buy more. Last year we actually needed more turkey and Whole foods had plenty at the deli counter.

        3. re: tcamp

          Local farm grown. We're getting two--one to smoke and one in the oven.

        4. I'm getting a local pasture-raised bird. I think it's a broad-breasted white, though, not heritage. It will probably be about 15 lbs.

          However, I'm only getting this bird because I'm getting it through my work and using my credit to get it. If I was paying cashy money, I would be getting something from the grocery store. $80 is just too much for my budget right now. :/

          2 Replies
          1. re: Kontxesi

            Have you had the pasture bird before? I got an email somehow from a local farm for pasture raised broad breasted white for $4.25/lb which is on the list of options.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              Yes, I had one last year. It turned out beautifully, but I can't compare it to a grocery store bird because I prepared it much differently than my mom usually does. I might get one from the store as well to do a test.

              EDIT: We're charging 4.97/lb, but we aren't the farmer so there is mark-up involved.

          2. I'm shooting for a 20lb Kosher (a local market is trying to order it for me).

            I'm doing Thanksgiving in rural Idaho this year - so I'm just hoping to have a Turkey (half joking, half serious) that isn't a grocery store Butterball.

            Last year I had 4 Turkeys (long story) - smoked turkey from a local food truck, heritage, heirloom, and organic/free range. My favorite was the heirloom. I think the name, "Heirloom" is misleading and trying to fool people who don't know the difference between it and heritage - which I don't like. But, I didn't think the heritage was worth the additional price based on taste (putting food ethics aside).

            I'm going with a Kosher this year because I won't be in my kitchen and having a "pre-brined" Turkey will be a huge time/effort saver.

            7 Replies
            1. re: thimes

              Just so I'm clear what is the exact difference between heirloom and heritage?

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                Heritage turkeys are essentially "the old breeds" of turkey that farmers are starting to bring back. They have smaller breasts, walk on their own, and can actually still reproduce on their own.


                Heirloom turkeys are essentially hybrids of an old breed with the broad-breasted white (the mass market turkey of today). They have larger breasts than heritage breeds and the meet is a little more similar to what we've come to expect based on the mass consumption of broad-breasted whites (not as "game-y" or "tough" as heritage breeds). They also grow more quickly - though I'm not sure if they breed on their own (broad breasted whites in mass production can no longer breed because of their huge breasts - kinda crazy when you think about it).

                So in "ethics" I always want to support heritage farmers because I do believe in bringing back those breeds and I respect that movement. They are more expensive and harder to find. But eating them side by side, I preferred the meat of the heirloom because it was more familiar - so for the price difference I would go heirloom again. I just think those breeding heirloom turkeys call them "heirloom" to piggy back on the term "heritage" and get some of the street cred while confusing consumers (which I don't like).

                The heritage turkey made the most amazing turkey stock after thanksgiving though, so flavorful and rich - it was awesome.

                1. re: thimes

                  I think the local turkey is pasture raised and heirloom so perhaps a nice option. However are the pastured turkeys like the pastured chickens which are skinny legged bone more than meat creatures?

              2. re: thimes

                " I'm hoping that it isn't a grocery store Butterball."
                I saw the title of the thread and was just getting ready to put in a plug for the tried-and-true Butterball, when I read your post. Maybe I don't know what I'm missing. The classic Butterball can be prepared a miriad of ways and gets rave reviews, so we "look no further." The evidence is all over Chowhound boards through the years, though, that each source for the bird and each kind of bird has its absolute fans.

                1. re: Florida Hound

                  I've been quite happy with butterball turkeys... since I have high blood pressure and sodium issues I just want a turkey breast that's NOT brined or injected 'for my convenience', and preferably fresh rather than frozen so I don't have to wait a week for the wretched thing to thaw.

                  1. re: Kajikit

                    Delaware Chicken on RT.#441/SR#7
                    has great turkey's, etc.

              3. Last year, I decided to try one of the local pasture-raised, organic birds from a farm near me. At $5.50/pound, the price for a 20 pound bird made me a bit sick to my stomach. I served it to my guests without any notice, to see what they thought.

                Nobody said a word that they noticed or tasted anything different. I had a hard time as well, noticing a difference. I do try to support local farms for a whole host of other reasons, but when it comes down to paying $110 for my Thanksgiving bird, I'm going back to the Shady Brook Farm version for 49 cents/pound.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mwk

                  I free especially if you brine your turkey I doubt there will be a huge difference in taste.

                2. I'm getting the free one that the grocery store gives you when you spend $400 on groceries in November. It's just the Shop-Rite brand frozen turkey. Last year I picked the biggest one that they had in the case because we were having a big crowd. This year will be just 8 of us so I'll go with a smaller bird.

                  4 Replies
                    1. re: Jerseygirl111

                      We haven't had free around here in awhile, but I'll take the 49 cent one. Although they're a little late this year, the weekly brochure just mysteriously states "Coming soon! The best deal this Thanksgiving" so who knows.

                      With all the other food being served, it's not as important to me as it might be otherwise. I have a turkey farm about 5 minutes away, and have bought their wonderful turkeys at just under $5/lb,it's better but just not 10 times better, I have to say.

                      As a matter of fact, I have a 9 lb chicken in the freezer, and if worse comes to worst....

                      1. re: coll

                        Wow a 9 lb chicken, I'd serve that if you aren't expecting many. I wonder if they'd notice. I'd love to see that chicken, I'm so used to the runt 2.5-3 lbers that I use for Zuni chicken recipe. My heirloom turkey this year is 1.5x the price of the regular natural turkey at Whole Foods so I guess I'll have to judge how much better it tastes but at $20 more it's not too much extra to spend though as you point out if it can be free.

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          To top if off, it's some kind of Amish brand, and when I went to grab it at 69 or 79 cents a lb, a lady standing nearby told me she had bought it the week before and it was one of the best she'd ever tasted.

                          My guests would probably notice, since I usually do at least a 20 lber, but it's only me, my husband and his brother and sister. No kids or significant others. Since they are just attending for the free meal, I don't see how they can complain! And best of all, I can probably cram it in the rotisserie oven and free up the big oven. Set it and forget it! Just waiting to see if there are any good deals on turkey at this point. I mean, I do love turkey as much as the next person.

                          A few years ago, the best deal was Butterball and you know what? That's when I had my "epiphiany" that frozen supermarket turkeys aren't all that bad. They didn't know and raved how it was the best I had ever made. Live and learn.