How big of a turkey do I need?
A tough question for sure! As the birds get bigger, so does the amount of meat per pound. I usually suggest a 12 lb bird for smaller groups (6-8) and for large groups (10-15) something in the 20-22 lb range. Much bigger than 25lbs is hard to roast whole as it barely fits into most ovens and won’t cook evenly. If 20-22 doesn't seem like enough for your group, I suggest getting a 20 lb turkey and an additional bone in breast to roast along side.
Does my turkey come with giblets?
Will my turkey be fresh or frozen?
If you order by our cut off, we will get you a turkey fresh from the farm. If you call after the cut off, we will do our best, but you may get a turkey from the freezer and we will do our best to get it thawed in time. The good news is that because we get such wonderful turkeys, even a thawed turkey will be much more delicious than a supermarket bird.
Do I need to brine my turkey?
Nope. Brining is all about adding flavor and seasoning to your turkey (or chicken or pork roast...) but it isn't necessary. I almost never brine my thanksgiving turkey and I've yet to get a complaint about a dry bird.
What is this "brining" thing all about?
Brining is submerging and/or injecting the meat with a solution of salt and water. Sugar, herbs and spices are often added and sometimes other aromatics like onions and garlic. It is used for getting extra flavor into the meat and sometimes can result in juicier meat. Brining is what gives deli ham or turkey its bright color (sometimes due to the addition of sodium nitrate- nothing to be alarmed about) and hammy flavor.
How long will it take to cook my bird?
In my experience, fresh farm birds cook a bit quicker than supermarket turkeys. I usually do a 20-22 lb turkey in under 3 hours. The best advice is to get a probe thermometer and set it to go off at 150 F. Give it 3 hours to cook and plenty of time to rest. I like to carve the bird after it has rested and is at room temperature (easier to handle!) and then reheat the carved turkey in a hot oven. Everything will still be juicy and the slices will be hot.
How do you de-bone or "spatchcock" a turkey and why would I do such a thing?
Spatchcocking or butterflying is when you (or your butcher...) removes the backbone and either removes or cracks the keel or breastbone so that the turkey (or chicken or pheasant or squab...) lays flat in the pan. Many people like to cook birds this way because it cooks more evenly, gets great color on the skin and cooks much faster.
Should I cook my stuffing inside my bird?
I don't generally recommend it. It can be a potential food safety hazard as the stuffing may not reach a safe temperature (160F) by the time the bird is cooked. Besides- the best part of the stuffing is the the golden brown crusty bits on the top (and especially the corners) and 1 turkey cavity full of stuffing would never be enough to satisfy my family, so why not cook the whole batch in its own pan?
What awesome thing should I do with my leftover turkey?
I love to make obnoxiously large turkey sandwiches with lots of mayo, leftover stuffing, cranberry sauce (my wife makes the best!) and a bit of (yes, I'm serious) cold gravy smeared on the bread. I always make turkey stock and turn it into turkey soup with lots of vegetables and rice. Sometimes my brilliant wife will make a savory pie dough (though store bought crust or puff pastry works great) and we will make turkey pot pie.
How to brine a turkey with The Butcher and Larder Brine kit:
If you bought a brine kit from The Butcher and Larder, pour the entire cup into a large container. Add 3 containers full of cold water and whisk everything together. Place turkey into brine bag and cover with the brine. Let sit for 4 to 24 hours. Remove turkey from brine and place on a rack to dry in your fridge. If you are roasting right away, simply pat the turkey dry with some paper towels.
How to cook a turkey:
If you are brining your turkey, do so the day before roasting, but not longer than that. You don’t want your turkey tasting like ham…
Pre heat your oven to 500 F.
Pat your turkey dry and rub with a few drops of olive oil. If you didn’t brine your turkey (That’s ok. I rarely brine my thanksgiving turkey, and I’m the butcher…) sprinkle liberally with kosher salt. You can grind some pepper over the bird as well, but just salt is fine. I like to mix softened butter with herbs and sea salt and stuff it under the skin of the bird, but that too is optional.
Place the bird on a rack, or on some sliced onions and celery ribs. I usually add a few thyme branches as well. Place a probe thermometer in the meaty part between the thigh and breast and roast at 500 F for about 25 minutes or until the breast starts to blush a light golden brown. Turn the oven down to 325 and continue to roast until the thermometer registers 158 F. An average sized turkey (14-16 lbs will take about 2 ½ - 3 hours). Remove the turkey from the pan and let rest for at least 20 minutes on a carving board.
Butcher’s tip! Cook the turkey very early in the day and let it rest until it is room temperature. After your guests oooh and aaahhh at the beautiful bird, remove the breasts whole and slice them and remove the leg quarters and separate the drumsticks from the thighs. After all my other food is hot and ready, put the carved pieces back in the oven to reheat (Turn the oven back to 425 and the turkey should be piping hot and still moist and juicy in about 8-10 minutes). Arrange the slices and leg pieces artfully on a platter and serve.
Can I buy other parts of the turkey?
Yes! We have thighs, drumsticks, leg quarters, wings, backs and bones as well. Call the butcher shop at 312-432-6575 to order.