How to Pick a Turkey

In addition to being the much-anticipated main course, your turkey is the ceremonial centerpiece of your dinner table and picking it out is half the battle. Josh Ozersky gives you a quick lesson on bird  basics, and helps demystify this potentially daunting task.

Video Transcript

Hi. I'm Josh Ozersky. And I am on, talking about turkeys. It's a bird that you get only infrequently and because of its paramount importance, as a kind of ceremonial centerpiece for this big deal holiday, you need to make sure what you're doing. Now, this turkey I have here is not the usual looking turkey, right. The usual looking turkey that you get is a big heavy round supermarket turkey. And I'm going to go through the different levels, but I would point out that this is a very good turkey and probably an upgrade over the one you use. Now, here's how it works. On the bottom level, the worse turkey you can get is a frozen off brand turkey. There's probably a giant bin in your supermarket with giant bolders of ice. That's the turkey that they use in like supermarket bowling. You know, they have the turkey bowling where they..they bowl the turkey into the tomato cans. They probably did it to that turkey too. And it's not very good, but then again, you know your guests probably won't notice, especially if you cover it up with greasy gravy like I do. Now, a step above that would be a good brand frozen turkey, like your Butterball, your Amish turkeys, various other brands. Those are freakishly bred, to have gigantic large, mammoth ample bosoms and also they're injected frequently with salt brine to make them super extra juicy. So, even if you overcook the white meat, it still won't be bad. I like those a lot and I've made a lot of them, and so have you. Now, a level above that is that same turkey but fresh. The really, the great division in turkey is frozen versus fresh. The frozen turkey is the worst product and it takes a million years to defrost. If you could avoid buying frozen turkey, I would and there's no reason you can't because it's not like Thanksgiving comes without warning because it's the same time every year. So, just figure on going to the store two or three days before and getting a fresh turkey. The fact is there's so many turkeys left over that there'll even be plenty of them the day of, although you know, don't hold me to that. The level above the fresh Butterball type turkey would be what this is here. This is a kosher turkey. This is a turkey, it is a more of a natural looking animal. It has a regular white skin rather than an unnatural yellowish skin. You could see it has some little feathers still left in it that are totally disgusting. And you gotta pull those out. But it's a flavorful animal, relative for turkey. And if you can get a big heavy one, this guy is about twenty pounds, you'll generally get much better taste profiles than you would, with a you know a commodity product. The other thing is the skin is better. The skin has had, has been brined and salty and so forth. So, you don't need to go to the trouble of brining it. Then at the top of the food chain or so they say, are the so call heritage breeds of Bourbon Red and some of the other, some of the other kind of leaner, gamier, more old school kinds of turkey. Frequently these can only be bought through specialty butchers or even through a farm. That's what high end restaurants use and classy food magazines will frequently recommend them. I'm here to tell you, they're not that good. They are expensive, they're hard to get, and they're a leaner version of a bird that's already too lean. The flavor's a little bit better. But the best turkey that ever lived doesn't taste as good as an average chicken. OK. Last thing, weight. Turkey needs to be big for Thanksgiving. So, rather than going with, well I'm going to have six people, so I'll get twelve pounds or I'm going to have like fifteen people, so I'll get twenty pounds. Here's something much simpler. Bear it in mind now, I'm going to tell you now and you'll never forget it. Buy the biggest turkey they have. Because there's going to be leftovers anyway. Just make it, the next day make a club sandwich, use lots of bacon. I'm Josh Ozersky, and this is

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