November 22, 2012
FROM THE THANKSGIVING ARCHIVES: BY WHICH HE MEANS DESIGN:
Fit for a Pilgrim: Pure in flavor, heritage birds are taking a place at the table (Regina Schrambling, Special to the Los Angeles Times)
Only in the food world is reverse evolution a good thing. Every November, turkey, the all-important element of the most unifying American meal, gets a little closer to what the Pilgrims ate at that very first feast when they were grateful just to be alive. And every November it gets better.
In the last 20 years, frozen Butterballs have given way even in supermarkets to fresh turkeys, then free-range turkeys and most recently organic turkeys. Now all those relatively tame birds bred to sameness over the last half a century are very slowly starting to be supplanted by turkeys with stunning flavor and texture that may not be totally wild but are much richer and more nuanced than the usual tom or hen.
Known as heritage turkeys ("heirloom" was apparently taken by tomatoes and apples), these birds are truly the essence of Thanksgiving. Everything about them takes you back in time to a purer world of food.
Unlike the Broad-Breasted Whites developed to dominate the holiday (representing 99.9% of what is sold each season, according to Heritage Foods USA, which markets American Bronze and Bourbon Red breeds), they have sturdy legs and flatter, longer breasts with stunning flavor. Their white meat would never be mistaken for chicken, and their dark meat is rich and sensuous as duck.
Posted by oj at November 22, 2012 12:33 AM
(originally posted: 11/22/05)