How to Buy a Thanksgiving Turkey

Turkey Labels

This month, millions of us will find ourselves standing, dazed and confused, at butcher shops, supermarkets, hoity-toity gourmet stores, and farmers markets, wondering how to buy a Thanksgiving turkey. Once again we’ll be confronted, as we are each November, with every conceivable type of turkey, each labeled with terms that may seem straightforward but in fact don’t always mean what you’d think. Fresh. Frozen. Free-range. Organic. Kosher. Natural. Heritage. Self-basting. Wild. With such a litany of ill-defined information bombarding us, the task of choosing a bird for that holiest of holy food days can range from haphazard to hand-wringing. So I decided to find out once and for all what these dagnabbit terms mean and which few will cause spontaneous choruses of “We’re having Thanksgiving at your house again next year!” from your guests. Read more “How to Buy a Thanksgiving Turkey” »

Thickest Part of the Thigh, Huh?

Meat Thermometer

For a long time, every year when it came to the interminable turkey-eating season—November to New Year’s Day—I stood there holding a meat thermometer, hands trembling, face twitching, wondering if this bird would be the one I actually cooked correctly. You see, it seemed no matter what I did, I missed the mark so spectacularly that, for a while, I left the protein-cooking part of the day in The One’s hands and I took up the immensely less intimidating baking portion of the entertaining program. But not before one memorable Thanksgiving when I had to call our friend Matty, a former butcher, into the kitchen to salvage the bird, not to mention my flagging self-esteem. (To his great credit, Matty, a man who’ll use anyone’s misfortunes as grist for a few minutes of hilarious stand-up cocktail chatter, never breathed a word of it to anyone. At least, never in my presence.) Read more “Thickest Part of the Thigh, Huh?” »