Heritage turkeys can cost upwards of $10 per pound; plus, required overnight or two-day shipping can nearly double the price. A longer-lived bird tastes better, but “even your organic, free-range bird is likely to be only four months old at best when it is a commercial breed,” says susanl143. Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest tips, tricks, recipes and more, sent twice a week. Our top pick was from a large family-owned farm in California that also produces our winning brand of chicken. During carving, we’d noticed a distinct layer of fat under the skin on the breast—more than what we’ve seen on a supermarket turkey. In the 1500s, Spanish explorers took some wild North American turkeys back to Europe and domesticated them. In satay sauce, however, some tasters felt that heavier body made for a "pasty" end result. 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We know that fat not only adds flavor but also helps keep meat of all kinds moist during cooking. The bird with a “mixed” parentage was unremarkable, according to our tasters, and while flavorful, the wild turkey meat was somewhat tough. This was not surprising since they are more physically active, but overall the heritage birds still had far more fat.) Finally, turkey breed may have played a part in our preferences. Heritage Thanksgiving Turkey 2020 Preorder! Buy a whole turkey and get your butcher to saw it in half, suggests Jacquilynne. Then European colonists brought these breeds—what we know now as heritage—back to North America in the 1600s. Eat your Heritage Breed Thanksgiving Turkey. To avoid the problem of overcooking the breast meat at any temperature, many experts recommend separating the thigh and leg meat. Tasters raved about the “buttery,” “nutty-sweet,” “incredibly satisfying, rich flavor” of the meat. If you guessed the turkey — which you probably could, given the headline and the photo above — you’d be right. These birds could grow to full size on less feed and in half the time as the old-breed turkeys could—making turkey cheaper than ever before. Known for fruit baskets and nut selections, Harry and David is also one of the best places to order Thanksgiving turkeys online. If you go with a supermarket turkey (like a classic Butterball), look at the label; if it says the meat has been treated with a salt solution, then you don’t need to brine it as it’s essentially already been done (via injection). “If you peel off the skin, you strip most of the fat right off with it,” he explained, noting that turkey meat doesn’t become marbled with fat like beef. (In the dark meat, heritage birds’ legs and thighs were actually slightly leaner than supermarket turkeys’. Grab-it deals like this everyday. Raising heritage turkeys is a great way to preserve rare breeds and add diversity to your homestead — or backyard poultry flock. By signing up, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy. Why You Should Buy a Heritage Turkey This Thanksgiving — And Where to Find One. Near extinction not so long ago—and still on the “priority” list of the Livestock Conservancy—old-breed heritage turkeys have had a renaissance in the past decade, with a handful of farmers putting in the extra time, expense, and effort to raise these colorfully plumed birds that, unlike modern commercial turkeys, can fly, roam freely, and breed on their own. On the one hand, this organic peanut butter produced cookies that were "soft and sturdy" yet "moist," with "knockout peanut flavor." The Butterball turkey had just 1.24 percent fat in its breast meat and skin, while breast-meat fat levels for the heritage birds ranged from a low of 4.56 percent in the wild turkey to a high of 10.63 percent in a Standard Bronze raised in Kansas. We then roasted all seven types of birds again according to Cook's Illustrated recipe customized to their unusual anatomy, and their flavor was even more extraordinary. The turkeys we unpacked were a far cry from the usual round, pale, plump supermarket turkey. Related Reading: How to Score a Free Turkey This Year | Whole Foods Turkey Discounts for Amazon Prime Members A major overlooked aspect of turkey taste is the age of the turkey. The inclusion of flax seed oil, an unsaturated fat that's highly susceptible to rancidity. What kind of turkey should you buy for Thanksgiving? © 2020 CHOWHOUND, A RED VENTURES COMPANY. A longer-lived bird tastes better, but “even your organic, free-range bird is likely to be only four months old at best when it is a commercial breed,” says susanl143. Here is a good turkey brine recipe from Martha Stewart – note that your turkey will need to soak in the brine for 24 hours, so plan accordingly. [Editor’s note: A limited supply of Reese’s turkeys are available at Heritage Foods.] updated Nov 12, 2019. )*, Good Buy 2020 Sale: Save 45% on Baking Cookbooks! Our science editor also pointed out that the moistness and lubrication from fat reduces friction as you bite through the meat, making it more tender. Prices are what we paid to mail-order a single turkey (shipping was extra). However, remember that an “organic” turkey may well not be free-range, and even a turkey labeled “free range” may have been raised in a barn, rather than out scratching in the pasture. 3. We tasted six heritage turkeys, prepared using our recipe for Cook's Illustrated Roast Heritage Turkey. 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