I was a bit bored today. The stock market was up and I felt like a Turkey for buying during a rally so with no real drama in the world I started to surf aimlessly. Well, not quite. I was sort of looking for an answer to a question. The question was - Who makes the best tasting turkey? I figured with Thanksgiving only three days away it might be useful information.
Here's what I found. I'll keep it brief for those who want a quick answer > The heritage breeds, with names like Narragansett and Bourbon Red, are supposed to be much more flavorful. The birds have a longer growing period than commercial turkeys; as a result, they have an extra layer of fat. They also have a higher proportion of dark meat. And since they are more agile, they get more exercise than even free-range commercial birds, and so they're said to have a firmer texture and a gamier taste.
By contrast, (according to an L.A. Times article) the supermarket breed — called Broadbreasted White — suffers in comparison, heritage turkey fans say, because it's been bred to yield as much white meat as possible (hence its name). Because of all that tinkering with nature, a Broadbreasted White is so top-heavy that it can't mate; it must be artificially inseminated. This is true even for organic and free-range turkeys. And in fact, free-range Broadbreasted Whites are so unsteady on their feet that they don't "range" much at all.
Well that's the short version. Clearly there are some other issues to contend with like availability and price. Some of these birds can be quite expensive and require weeks/months to order. And for some of us the taste isn't quite that important. It may be more about the quantity and the capabilities of the chef. I know when I'm cooking or grilling, it helps to have an edge!
Here are a few more links on the subject:
- Best Tasting Thanksgiving Turkey
- Definition of a Heritage Turkey
- Bird Basics
- Pound per pound- Which turkey tastes best? see this link for the cook-off/test.
Happy Cooking and Happy Eating!
Not sure about carving? See: How to Carve a Holiday Turkey - Two Videos.