Let’s Talk Turkey – How to choose the best turkey this Christmas

Choosing the Christmas turkey will be one of the most important food decisions you make this Christmas so make sure you get yours ordered in plenty of time. To save you time, I have researched the different options which are widely available, plus a few local recommendations.

Since it is the most crucial time of year for food retailers everywhere, they will spend a lot of time and money trying to convince you to buy their offerings. If you address this early enough you won’t feel bombarded by advertising. The paired back Waitrose Christmas ad-campaign addresses the fact that it is this pressure to buy, buy, buy which takes the edge off enjoying the festive season for many of us.

My preference is for a bronze turkey whole bird; we tried a crown one year for ease (actually I think my mum didn’t trust dad’s carving skills) but it wasn’t the same.

Fresh turkeys go on sale round about 19th December with prime selling days being 22nd and 23rd. Local butcher shops will take advance orders to ensure you don’t have to go running around the poultry aisles in a last minute panic. Check out your oven space and also roasting pans; if you haven’t got the right size roasting pan, you can buy disposable foil ones from most supermarkets. I was once asked to cook a giant turkey for an American client for Thanksgiving. He was insistent that he wanted lots of leftovers, but didn’t realise that his oven was way too small for the size of bird he wanted. I gave him two turkeys; one which I had already cooked for his left overs, and the other one we cooked for the Thanksgiving dinner. Think carefully, too, about how much aside from roast potatoes you need to go into the oven. Most veg can be prepped in advance ready for reheating so you don’t have to juggle hob space either.

Kelly Bronze

IMG_2215The famous Kelly Bronze turkey was showcased at The BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham where people were queuing round the block for a good old fashioned turkey roll.

The Kelly Bronze turkey is reared to traditional farming methods and are allowed to roam in pastures and woodlands. They are fed on locally grown cereals and vegetable proteins, and are without additives, drugs or growth promoters. They are hand plucked and hung in a chilled environment for fourteen days or more to develop in flavour.

This is the turkey favoured by upmarket butchers, so make sure you order in plenty of time.

Sainsburys

Norfolk Black Turkey in the Taste the Difference range this Christmas. I felt very privileged to meet Mark Gorton, the genial turkey farmer who explained how his method of breeding results in succulent and full of flavour birds. Allowing all his birds to roam free in woodland and open fields follows the traditional way of rearing turkey and produces birds far removed from the dry and tasteless turkeys we have been led to accept. Aside from his whole birds, there is a more exotic sounding fig and orange stuffed crown.  Either opt for the already stuffed crown with some of the mixed flavour cocktails sausages, or team the traditional turkey with the Pork and Pomegranate wraps which serve as an interesting alternative to stuffing balls. Whichever you choose you will be on to a winner, and even the turkey doubters won’t complain.

Taste the Difference whole Freedom Food free-range Norfolk Black turkey £9.99/kg
Weight: 5-5.99kg (£49.95-£59.84)
6-6.99kg (£59.94-£69.83)
Options to serve up to 11
The exclusive Norfolk Black is a slower-growing breed of turkey, which means the flavour has longer to develop, resulting in a better tasting bird.

Taste the Difference whole Freedom Food free-range Bronze turkey £8.49/kg
Weight: 4-4.99kg (£33.96-£42.37)
Options to serve up to 9
The Bronze has lots of succulent, delicious breast meat.  These free-range birds are reared to the Freedom Foods welfare standard, which helps to ensure the best quality meat.

Waitrose

Waitrose have a Pork, sage & onion stuffed turkey with sage butters under the skin and a maple cured bacon lattice.

This turkey is in a roasting bag (inner bag). Simply place into your oven tray and roast for the perfect Christmas turkey.
£36.00  (£4.50 per serving)
Weight: 4 – 5kg
Serves 8

They also will sell a dry aged, free range bronze feathered turkey breast and leg joints stuffed with a sweet, nutty chestnut and cranberry stuffing, for a classic flavour combination. Each box comes with a handy stock pack to use for the perfect gravy and a meat thermometer to help cook the joints to perfection.
£50.00  (£6.25 per serving)
Weight: 3.5kg
Serves 8

Asda

Bourbon Gold turkeys – exclusive to Asda

Asda has worked with a producer to create a new variety of turkey by crossing the Bourbon turkey with a Kelly Gold for a meatier bird, which they say lends a hint of luxury.

The Bourbon Gold turkeys are the Kelly Gold variety mixed with the traditional Bourbon turkey, named after Bourbon Country, which originated in Kentucky in the late 19th century. This Bourbon breed was hugely popular in the 1930s and 1940s, but was eventually unable to compete with the plumper, broad breasted varieties. 

The Bourbon Gold Turkeys are reared from five weeks and live in small flock sizes maintaining tight knit social groups and are slow grown for a fuller and more succulent flavour. They are also free to roam the woodlands and grasslands. All Asda turkeys are British.

Fresh turkeys go in-store at Asda on the 19th December.

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