Hmm. . . What to Serve This Thanksgiving?
Russ and Debra texted me from Soulard Market. “We’ve ordered the turkeys!” Deb wrote excitedly, knowing we’d need two birds for Thanksgiving.
“What kind did you get? And from where?” I wrote back.
“We got them from the Harr Family Farms in Illinois—one Heritage turkey and one regular. We can do a side by side comparison.”
“Great,” I replied, thinking a little scientific experiment on Turkey Day might be an excuse to indulge even more. But, I thought, before I gobble, maybe I should Google. (Forgive the poor pun.)
Online I went . . . .
Okay, but just how do the Heritage breeds differ from the Butterballs you find in the freezer bins at the supermarket this time of year? For one thing, they’re raised outdoors on an au natural diet. Their legs are longer and the breast flatter than the typical variety.
While they’re heavy on white meat, too often factory farm birds are shot up with antibiotics and growth enhancers. The Heritage breeds are true-flavored, much like what our musket-packing ancestors brought home years ago. In an attempt to recapture those times, the Harr family boasts no hormones, antibiotics, steroids or pesticides.
The 10, or so, Heritage breeds are raised much like wild turkeys, that is, they mate naturally rather than being artificially inseminated. Their growth rate is normal; they reach marketable weight in 28 weeks. But birds, such as the Broad-breasted White raised on factory farms, are bred to put on more white meat quickly, typically 14-18 weeks. They get too top-heavy to fly or even reproduce naturally. By comparison, Heritage breeds have a smaller breast, darker leg meat, a gamier taste, and much higher price tag.
Note, too, that a Heritage turkey will reach a 155 degree temperature reading about 25 minutes sooner than a Butterball.
I told you recently, that I fret over the turkey every year. As you can see, I’ve started already.