Select based on breed
Types and Breeds of Turkey:
are the turkeys sold in supermarkets. They have been bred, not for taste,
but to have an enormous breast size yielding plenty of white meat and
a light, blemish-free skin. They are also bred to be docile and to reach
early maturity with maximum growth. Because of their anatomy, these
birds cannot fly or mate on their own. When selecting the turkey after
January and before October this may be your only choice, unless you
find a specialty poultry supplier.
Broad Breasted White (BBW): This bird was developed in the 1950s at Cornell University by crossbreeding the Broad Breasted Bronze with the White Holland. This breed of turkey matured earlier than the BBB and the skin had a "cleaner" blemish-free appearance. By the 1960s, the BBW became the new commercial standard. Today almost all commercial turkeys are strains of this breed.
Heritage turkeys:historical varieties raised on small farms, can fly, feed on their own and breed by themselves (without artificial insemination). These turkeys are bred to a "standard" (American or European) compatible with a particular area or climatic region. They are slower growing than commercial breeds and are generally eaten after they reach maturity - approximately 28 weeks. When cooked, heritage turkeys are denser, have more dark meat and bring a richer, more succulent flavor to the table.
When selecting the turkey for a special occasion some people feel a heritage turkey is well worth the cost. But these turkeys can be hard to find, if you haven't ordered one in advance. Heritage turkeys are usually available between November and January.
If you want a Heritage turkey raised specifically for you, you need to order one well in advance, as early as spring.Heritage turkeys include the following breeds: Bourbon Red, Royal Palm, Narragansett, Bronze, Slate, White Holland, and Jersey BuffWild Turkeys:
Wild Turkeys:If your idea of selecting the turkey includes selecting the turkey in the field, wild turkeys are available. They can also be purchased from select distributors but they won't have the same flavor as a truly wild bird.
Wild turkeys are smaller and have darker meat and firmer texture than commercial turkeys. The flavor is likely to be more intense and it changes depending on what the bird has been eating. These birds can be ordered from dealers in game meat or obtained by hunting, in season.
Cooking PerfectionShortcut Path
Cook Time Metric
Cooking MethodsRoast Turkey
Parts And PiecesGrilled
About The BirdsIf You Raise Turkeys
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