November 28, 2013

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.


(originally posted: 11/22/05)


Posted by at November 28, 2013 12:33 AM
  

"Their white meat would never be mistaken for chicken, and their dark meat is rich and sensuous as duck."

Sad to say, that is not necessarily a selling point. Many people, including just about all of my family, expect turkey to taste like Butterball turkey. Additionally, they don't react kindly to changes in the menu. We had a near mutiny one year when my cousin unilaterally decided to change the family stuffing recipe.

The birds also tend to be MUCH smaller than those 20 lbs plus toms you see at the grocery store. They are tasty, though, if prepared properly.

Posted by: Rick T. at November 22, 2005 12:31 PM

Didn't we have this thread a few days ago?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at November 22, 2005 1:01 PM

We often have a smoked wild turkey, shot by Dad himself, to supplement the store-bought bird. Sometimes the second bird is a wild goose. If their's no second bird, we have a ham.

Posted by: Twn at November 22, 2005 1:23 PM

I'm a big tender breast man myself. I remember turkeys that were so tough and dry that my Mother switched to capons for Thanksgiving until the Butterballs came out. Never had one that tasted like chicken.

Had sauteed breast of Guinea Hen at the Plainfield Inn this summer and highly recommend it. No it doesn't taste like chicken either.

Posted by: Genecis at November 22, 2005 5:16 PM

Rick:

[T]hey don't react kindly to changes in the menu. We had a near mutiny one year when my cousin unilaterally decided to change the family stuffing recipe.

Which is as it should be.

Posted by: David Cohen at November 23, 2005 7:58 AM

Kelloggs has apparently stopped making the Crouttetes stuffing I've eaten two boxes of every year since I was 8.

Posted by: oj at November 23, 2005 8:14 AM
blog comments powered by Disqus
« FROM THE ARCHIVES: WHICH AREN'T EVEN INCLUDED IN HOUSEHOLD NET WORTH: | Main | FROM THE ARCHIVES: ALL ALONG THE ANGLOSPHERE: »