A delicious turkey dinner for Thanksgiving or Christmas is a holiday staple. Research your turkey options to help ensure you get the right one for your meal.
1. Turkey types
- Free-range: Also called “free-roaming” or “cage-free,” these turkeys graze outdoors, giving them more muscle and a better taste.
- Natural: A natural turkey contains no additives — no artificial flavouring, colouring or preservatives. Natural turkeys aren’t heavily processed but aren’t necessarily organic.
- Organic: Organic turkeys are raised with access to outdoors (like free-range turkeys) and they’re not given antibiotics, hormones or steroids. The food they eat is organic.
- Basted or self-basting: Self-basting or basted turkeys are injected (or marinated) with flavour. This makes the meat moist and easier to cook, but it can also reduce the natural turkey flavour.
- Kosher: Kosher turkeys are slaughtered in accordance to Jewish laws. They are pre-salted, deeply seasoned and moist, giving them a full-flavour taste.
2. Fresh or frozen?
- Fresh turkeys are stored at about -3.3˚ C (26˚ F), frozen turkeys are stored at about -17.8˚ C (0˚ F) and some turkeys are stored at in-between temperatures.
- Freezing can result in drier meat when it is cooked. Frozen turkeys can also take a long time to thaw in the refrigerator — up to one day for every 2.3 kg (5 lbs).
3. Turkey size
- Smaller turkeys, which are about 5 kg (11 lbs) or less, are nearly always more tender than bigger turkeys.
- You could opt for two small turkeys instead of one large one if you’re cooking for a big group or just some turkey breast if you’re cooking for a small group.
- When cooking a turkey, allocate at least 0.5 kg (1 lb) per person if you’re also serving side dishes.
- Cook extra if you want to make turkey soup, turkey burgers and more with leftover meat.
4. Turkey stuffing
- Turkey stuffing is generally made of croutons (or dried bread), onion, celery, seasoning, herbs and sometimes giblets too.
- There are many types of pre-made turkey stuffing mixes available.
- Regardless of the type of stuffing you choose, stuff the turkey just before it goes in the oven, not earlier.
5. Turkey prices
- Turkey prices vary from year to year and because poultry is a big business, there’s a wide range available for every budget.
- Organic, kosher or wild turkeys tend to be the most expensive, while regular turkeys will be your cheapest option.
- Turkeys are priced by size, so a larger turkey will cost more.
- A centrepiece for your holiday
- A delicious turkey makes the perfect centrepiece for your Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner.
- Considering the type of turkey you prefer, the number of people you’re planning to feed and your budget will help you pick out the right turkey for your holiday meal.