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What kind of turkey should I buy?

This began as a simple undertaking, for in my past Mr. Butterball would thaw in the refrigerator until the appropriate time. Now my life has been forever changed by the purchase of a BGE I must ask "Is the Butterball BGE worthy?" My quest has taken me to free range turkeys, organic turkeys, fresh turkeys, frozen turkeys, free range that were very fresh but have now been frozen, as well as an assortment of others. There are suppliers who will ship "fresh" birds, others will ship frozen, many claim that flash freezing has no negative consequences whatsoever, and Cooks Illustrated magazine reviewed eight turkeys of which the Marval brand came out on top - but it was a "basted" variety which I do not want as I plan to use the excellent brine with maple syrup that I have seen on this site. Other comments from turkeys other than Marvel include "The sample was very tender, and if one discounted the flavor, it would be great" "Somewhat gamey - rather like liver" "The worst part was the flavor - old, slightly metallic and a texture of sponge."[p]You get the picture .... I need help. The Thanksgiving Turkey and the accompanying festivities are not to be taken lightly![p]Thank you! [p]Matthew.


  • Matthew,
    If you want to brine your bird, get an organic one (doesn't have to free-range unless those critters are in season in your parts), that doesn't already have the solution inside. Otherwise the salt may be too high. Anyway, just go out and get a big Butterball or the like, as I do usually. The large BGE will handle up to a 22lb. bird if necessary. I've had a lot of success rubbing under the skin, injecting the bird w/Cajun marinade and any stuffing of choice...smoke flavored with a little mix of pecan, applewood, and maple if you can find it.
    Happy Gobble Day,
    Big Murth in New Mexico

  • Bobby-QBobby-Q Posts: 1,995
    I admire you for feeling so much pain about the decisions at Holiday crunch time. This year I am going to be doing a 12-14 lb.heritage turkey on the BGE and a appx 20 pounder in the convection oven.[p]I plan on brining the modern huge breasted flavorless beast for the convection oven, and then will fill with a mix of fruits and vegetables before roasting.[p]The heritage bird I am going to wait and see what it looks and feels like before I make a decision about it, but right now I am currently leaning toward just doing it on the vertical roaster with a minimum of flavorings and just a slight seasoning.[p]But I feel your pain on the decision making, but just do your best and everyone will appreciate and enjoy that.

  • Matthew,
    I usually cook a fresh one, but the frozen Butterball works fine too. Just don't brine it. It's already shot full of salt water so brining just makes it a salty but juicy turkey.[p]Loosen the skin and rub with a mixture of room-temperature butter and your favorite rub. Put some more on the outside. Inject with half a jar of Cajun Creole Butter and in the egg he goes.

  • NessmukNessmuk Posts: 251
    Try an American Heritage bird. Even at $7 a pound, they are superior to the super market turkeys.[p]Last year I smoked our first heritage bird & a super market bird. The vote from my immediate family & guest was unanamous in favor of the American Heritage turkey. Already have one on order for this year.[p]The ones I buy are raised in western Kansas & brought here to Metro by truck...frozen of course. A "local harvest" store carries them. [p]I brined it. I use a Spanek, vertical roaster. Once a hour, I spritzed it with apple juice & olive oil. I cooked it at 250 for about 4 hours or until the polder read 165 in the breast & 180 in the thighs.[p]It was golden brown when done.[p]Check the web pages on American Heritage Turkeys for a dealer near you.[p]Good Luck,[p]

  • Nessmuk,
    Is American Heritage Turkey a brand name? Do you have a website you could suggest so I could find a local dealer? I did a web search and found mostly generic info on "heritage" turkeys -- looks like a breed.[p]Thanks,

  • Matthew, if you were NOT going to brine I'd suggest you get an organic or free range bird, ala Bell & Evans Farms. There is a definite flavor difference. However, seeing as you have your brine picked out already, I would buy a non-basted frozen store brand, usually pretty reasonable. Just make sure that it hasn't been shot up with all kinds of solutions and "natural flavors". Be safe with it and thaw in the fridge or in cold water. Make sure the brine is cold before placing the turkey in it.[p]Just my opinion.

    [ul][li]Meat and Poultry Questions?[/ul]
  • NutmEGGer - I think this site may be of use! I too have obtained a rapid education in the Heritage Turkey today![p]All the best,[p]Matthew.[p][p]
  • eggoreggor Posts: 777
    Matthew,[p]Ive yet to get beyond turkey breasts, and will be at relatives (eggless) over turkeyday. But I did some turkey breasts Friday night for my 40 birthday, only paid about 2.50 for each breast half(on sale). this was my fourth attempt and with guests present. It turned out very very good. I don't know that spending 140 bucks on an organic bird would have made it that much better. IMHO
  • ShelbyShelby Posts: 803
    I was going to say a dead one![p]Seriously, I use a plain store brand. I then inject with my own marinade and it comes out fine. The Egg does an excellent job on the big bird! Don't stress on the kind, just cook it properly.

  • J AppledogJ Appledog Posts: 1,046
    Amen, Shelby. JCA

  • Bobby-QBobby-Q Posts: 1,995
    Heritage turkeys are a generic term for several different breeds of turkey that are all but gone these days. These are the turkeys that were bred and raised in the US back in the early years. Most of them are breeds that require 2 birds showing a reccessive traitthat are then bred to make the particular breeds that are sold as heritage birds.[p]The main differences will be in the size of the breast, the color of the meat, and the flavor. These birds do not have monster over engineered breasts so there is less breast meat. There is also a lot less difference between the dark meat and the white meat. They also taste like turkey, which if you have only done the deli/butterball thing, then you have to try one to know what turkey really tastes like. Some people do not like the way heritage birds taste because they are very used to the bland white meat modern birds and they don't like the good, but gamey taste of a heritage bird.[p]There are tons of sites out there about heritage birds. I'm getting one this year from townline farms up in PA. They are one of the few that still do free range authentic breeds (I'm getting a Jersey Buff this year and they are sending it fresh for me instead of with the "light freeze" they normally do).

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