Forty-six million turkeys will be roasted, deep fried, basted and brined this Thanksgiving. The American Farm Bureau Federation says the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people will average $49.04, a 44-cent decrease from last year’s average of $49.48. Supermarkets are charging $21.76 for a 16-pound turkey, which works out to $1.36 per pound (and three cents less than the per pound cost in 2012).
Some turkey lovers are splurging on the main course, paying up to $261 for a 20-pound bird at specialty online meat purveyors like D’Artagnan. Organic free-range turkeys, wild turkeys and free-range heritage turkeys are available to order on the D'Artagnan website, in addition to foie gras, pasture-raised beef tenderloin and fresh Italian white truffles.
Adam Rapoport, editor-in-chief of Bon Appetit magazine, says heritage birds have a distinct flavor compared to their farm-raised brethren.
“The meat is richer and more flavorful,” he says in an interview with The Daily Ticker. “The free range birds run more…they’re out there enjoying the good life. Their legs and thighs are meatier.”
Rapoport notes that turkeys sold at the local grocery store suffer from the “Dolly Parton” complex – the breasts have been pumped up and inflated, which does affect the taste.
As for the white meat versus dark meat debate, Rapoport says both are equally nutritious. Adults tend to gravitate toward the turkey legs and thighs because of "more complex taste buds,” which means the older you are “the more you enjoy flavorful foods.”
This year duck fat has become the favorite ingredient of chefs and they're using it to fatten (and flavor) turkeys too.
“Let the legs and thighs slowly simmer in the fat until they are tender and crisp them up in the oven,” Rapoport explains. “The turkey will be crunchy and meltingly tender. It’s a project but the best thing you will ever eat.”
(Click here for more ways to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey)
Dry-brining a turkey with salt, pepper, sugar and herbs is another way to revitalize the main attraction on Thanksgiving. But Rapoport concedes that turkey may have lost its charm: “it’s the new American white meat and the de facto sandwich meat,” he says. “Personally I’ll go with ham every day.”
Related: The Best Sandwiches in America
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