Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turkey post-mortem

Eat Local for Thanksgiving 2008With all this yackety-yacking about my pastured heritage turkey, there seemed to be some interested in doing a follow-up or, post-mortem, on what we all thought of the turkeys we chose.

This was the first time we got a heritage bird that was pasture raised. In the past we have gotten organic "free-range" turkeys that have always tasted a lot better than the standard commercial butterball style turkey. This year's turkey was just as moist and tasty as the basic organic bird, but its anatomy and flavor was totally different.

There was quite a bit of meat on the bird and it was more like pork than turkey. It wasn't flavorless like your average turkey and it had an amazingly thick layer of subcutaneous fat on it, which made it super-moist. I'm not sure if that's because of the breed or because it was pasture raised. Not too surprisingly it didn't have humongous breasts, but they weren't paltry either and it had a good bit of meat on the legs. The most striking thing was how sturdy the carcass was - probably because it spent all its days running around on a farm.

For those of you who tried out a turkey you hadn't had before (organic, heritage, wild, free-range, pastured, etc.), did you notice a difference? If you spent extra money getting a more high-falutin' bird, would you do it again?



Don't forget - you still have time to enter my Thanksgiving giveaway. It's too hard to pick just one of you so I think I'll do a random draw. So, if you've not entered because you didn't want to "compete", don't worry about it. You'll have an equal chance.

22 comments:

koolchicken said...

I had a regualr supermarket (Foster Farms) turkey for thanksgiving. I don't think we have any turkey farms here on Kauai, and I'm certain I'de be arrested if I tried to smuggle one in. Getting local fruits and veggies isn't a problem here, but sadly anotherr confession. I had been away for two weeks coming home two days before Thanksgiving so mot of my stuff was canned. Not that I would have been able to get yams at the farmers market. If I ever move back to the mainland I'll have to try one of those turkeys, or convince my Mum to try it.

Kel said...

what has always amazed me is everyone knows turkey is sooo flavourless, why keep bothering with it?

The Cooking Lady said...

My daughter and I are both vegetarians and we wanted to purchase an organic turkey this year for the rest of the family, but at $60 for a 12 lb turkey...I think not.

But since we will probably still cook them for family and friends every Thanksgiving, we are starting a collection so we can afford a better style turkey next year.

Eliane said...

As I'm British, we don't do Thanksgiving. But for Christmas I usually have an organic Bronze Turkey raised naturally. Costs a fortune (last year's cost c. 80 pounds which is over 100 dollars) but tastes wonderful and moist. And I disagree that they taste of nothing. It depends what you buy, just as it does with chicken. Also I think lots of people overcook their turkeys (they certainly do over here) and dry them out. Have you read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle on turkeys? Interesting, funny and depressing when you consider the lot of most turkeys and how debased the meat has become.

Tajrw said...

My partner and I tried a heritage turkey this year. We were impressed with the firmness of the connective tissue. We just had a running joke about how strong our turkey was because it had flown and was smart. I have never had feelings for a turkey before, but this turkey really inspired a feeling of gratitude befitting of the occasion. Yes, we will buy one again. We are far more conscious of not wasting any of the parts this time.

badhuman said...

We had a heritage, free range, etc etc turkey. It cost $150 including overnight shipping since we couldn't find a local option in time. I think it was well worth it. Not only did it taste better but I know I'm helping to keep the heritage turkeys alive and supporting a small farmer. I'd keep ordering the heritage turkey and paying the price for that fact alone.

Oldnovice said...

We bought a big regular supermarket turkey to take over to the local mission. They needed 5,000 turkeys to feed over 17,000 people this Thanksgiving.

Years ago, I bought a free-range turkey LEG at Whole Foods (as a taste test of sorts). To ME, it tasted just like every other turkey leg I'd eaten, so I came to the conclusion that my taste buds just aren't sensitive enough to discern the difference. My hearing isn't sensitive enough to discern the difference between a boombox and an expensive entertainment center and my vision isn't sensitive enough to discern the difference between HD and plain old TV, either. My body was born to appreciate the cheap stuff.

JAM said...

This was my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian so I didn't eat any turkey, but my mom made one of the awful supermarket turkeys, and then cooked it too long and dried it out. It looked terrible. I made a quiche with my chicken's eggs for the three vegetarians and I thought it was way better than the turkey would have been!

Alison said...

In a fit of last-minute frugality I purchased a mutant turkey from a local store, even though I was eating out for Thanksgiving. It was a really inexpensive way to get meat and my kids were begging for turkey leftovers.

I'm pretty sure this will be the last mutant turkey for me. Usually I buy the fresh supermarket brand and one of the smaller birds and I've been reasonably happy with that; it looked like a real bird and was not presoaked or treated. In contrast, the mutant turkey was ball shaped and I found it almost impossible to figure out which side was up. Now that was scary!

Before anyone starts ranting at me, all of the beef and pork I eat is raised by a friend of mine so that I know what goes into it. The only meat I buy at the store is poultry and a little bit of pre-prepared stuff. I've also shifted my family to just one meat meal a day to cut down our CO2 footprint.

Debra fromMD said...

We have almost always had a locally grown turkey on our Thanksgiving table. I'm a vegetarian so I've never really paid much attention to whether it was pasture raised, organic or whatever. I think I will raise this issue next year. Although I don't partake, it would make me feel better knowing what the rest of the family is consuming.

steplikeagiant said...

I have a funny turkey story. My husband and I are vegetarians and always have black eyed peas or lentils or some such for holiday meals. My dad always comes and enjoys the meal even though he isn't a veggie. This year he decided he wanted turkey, so he went to a friend's house instead of ours. No big whoop. I see him every week for Spaghetti Sunday anyway. So he calls me and I ask about the meal. He tells me about everything except the turkey...so, I ask how the turkey was. He says..."oh I didn't eat any...they had black eyed peas and I wanted that more than the dried out looking turkey breast." Hmmmm.

Glad to know your heritage bird was good. If I ever eat turkey again (doubtful, but not out of the realm of possibility), I will definitely go that route.

e4 said...

We found a very local turkey (about 3 miles away!) by searching localharvest.org. And made some new friends in the process.

Kel - I think turkey can be tasteless for the same reasons as tomatoes and strawberries. You get what you pay for, at least to some extent.

Also, if you're going to bother cooking a turkey, you should seriously consider brining. It really does make for a better end result, and doesn't take any significant effort...

SusanB said...

We had a local natural free range fresh standard white this year. We're not sure if it was the turkey, the newly discovered convection feature on our oven, or my grandmother's roasting pan (recently unearthed) but it was really super. My mother used to cook fresh turkeys, but this was the first time I ever had.
We wanted a 15 lb. turkey but ended up with almost 20 lb.' at $3.97/lb we're thankful it was so good. The same farm raises heritage turkeys also, out of our price range this year.

Abbie said...

I hope you're making stock with the leftover bones! You can make so much and freeze it with a turkey. Totally worth it!!! Now it'll be heritage, pastured turkey stock!!!

We had a conventional one, but we're going to be raising our own turkeys next year along with the pigs.

Farmgirl Cyn said...

me in, tho I'm here at the last possible minute!!!
Cindy

Robj98168 said...

No turkey for us this year- had a roast, local grown,but I did roast a bird last sunday- not a free range heritage but one of those overpriced, brine soaked birds sold at Trader Joes- it was delicous but I started to think about the fact that it was pricey due to the brining- I can soak a bird in salty water myself! But the bird was good, almost as good as the turkey soup I made four days later! The roast was good as well.

d.a. said...

We had an organically-raised turkey this year (scrumptious!) and I plan on finding a local heritage turkey next year. For a once-a-year blowout feast, I think $80-$150 on the main item is well worth the money.

FWIW: we brine our turky, then smoke it on the grill. Even the white meat comes out tasty and juicy (and this is coming from a dark meat fan).

Anonymous said...

We had a local (about 5 miles) free-range turkey (well, free-range except for the pen that keeps out the foxes and coyotes). We were also amazed by the connective tissue -- this turkey had more robust knees than I do! For some reason the thing cooked in about 2.5 hours (we were expecting closer to 5, as it was 17.5 lbs), but fortunately we checked with a thermometer, because the "wait for the leg to jiggle" test would never, never have worked.

Anyhow, it was great. We had 15 people at dinner, then I put the remaining meat in the freezer in 1-lb bags, then made a couple of gallons of turkey stock, which is in the freezer in a variety of container sizes. I agree with the poster above: this expense is totally worth it for a once-a-year blowout.

Cave-Woman said...

Ours was a wild turkey. The meat is a little sweeter than a store-bought bird, and on the whole---much tastier.

bellananda said...

after having been a veg*n since 2001, i recently made the decision to consume meat only from local organic, free-range farmers who i know personally and who use responsible processing practices.

we bought a free-range heritage bird (still containing a couple stubborn black feathers) raised by a turkey farmer in kansas who had created a purchasing deal with our local (kansas city) grocery store chain. it had been a long time since i'd had turkey, but i have to say that that was the BEST. FRICKIN. BIRD. EVER. it was amazingly well-built and the meat was sweet, juicy, and a flavor which made you stop and savor it. and, though it was an 11 lb. bird, it only required 2.5 hours to cook to perfection (basting it alternately in butter and its own juices every 30 minutes). i even made (and quite enjoyed) a giblet gravy with its neck and fascinating, amazingly toned, and fat-free liver, heart, and gizzard (liver is so weird)!

the only truly odd part was, when we reheated the legs to eat as leftovers the next day, we discovered not one central bone but many, many smaller bones comprising the leg. it was somewhat akin to deboning a fish, there were so many. but it was worth it! :)

Jessica said...

When I lived in San Juan Islands area, my husband and I visited the Skagit County farm fest. Each year, all the farms in skagit county open their doors for family activities and tours. In Hamilton/Concrete, Washington area, there was a poultry and livestock farm named Skagit Valley Farms. They sell organic, free-range turkey (white feathered kind). Besides turkey, the owners have contracts with restaurants in Everett and Seattle area that cook with their organic free-range turkey, chicken, pig, and cows. For future reference with your blog or personal interest, you should google "Skagit Valley chicken" around Hamilton, WA. The owners are wonderful, knowledgeable about their stuff. If a person signs up for CSA meat from them, they receive coupons and a newsletter. hope this helps!

Megan said...

I am a mostly-vegetarian (flexitarian?)--I eat free-range meat about once every two months.

For Thanksgiving (expat in UK!) I made a great vegetarian dish from a BBC magazine recipe. I think it's reproduced here: http://www.ivillage.co.uk/food/tools/recipefinder/display_recipe/0,10193,7034,00.html

A picture of what it should look like is here: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/content/magazine/good-food/

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