Thanksgiving is over.
For the last several years we haven’t had turkey on Thanksgiving because I was not able to get a locally raised heritage bird. I like the flavor and I want to support rare breeds so if I can’t get a bird raised like I want it we’ll choose something else for our Thanksgiving feast.
This year I was able to find a new farmer in our valley who raised some Bourbon Red turkeys. I was almost too late but I managed to purchase 2 birds, a 9 pound and an 8 pound. The price was very reasonable from my point of view, $7.50 per pound. I raise my own meat chickens and I know that it costs me $6.50 per pound to raise a slower growing broiler bird so a bit more for a pastured turkey is perfectly reasonable. Turkeys take longer to mature than chickens so they will eat more and should be more expensive.
Anyway, it had been several years since I cooked a heritage bird and I wanted to make sure it was nice. I put butter under the breasts and covered them with oiled parchment paper. Then I roasted the thawed, unstuffed bird in a 350 degree oven until the thighs were the correct temperature of about 175 degrees F. The bird rested for about 30 minutes before we carved it. It was perfect. The skin was a bit tougher than I wanted but that was my fault because of how I cooked it. For the next one I’ll use butter over the whole bird or baste it a bit while it’s cooking.
Now how did we get 15 meals from this one bird?
Here is the complete breakdown of how many adults ate what each day.
Day 1 Thanksgiving
We had guests so there were four of us who ate our fill of turkey and all the sides.
Day 2 Lunch
3 people made turkey sandwiches for lunch the next day.
Day 2 Dinner
3 people had turkey tacos for dinner.
Day 3 Lunch
3 people had either turkey sandwiches or a turkey burrito for lunch.
Day 5 Lunch (we took a break from turkey so skipped a day)
2 people had the rest of the turkey meat for lunch.
I saved the bones from all the meals and weighed them. There are 2.3 pounds of bones that I’ve got stored in my freezer from this turkey. After we cook the next turkey I’ll combine those bones and make bone broth that will enrich many more meals.
Just with the meat from that one small turkey we got 15 meals for adults. There were 6.7 pounds of meat on that bird so on average each portion was just over 7 ounces before cooking. I didn’t weigh any of the meat after cooking but I suspect it was closer to 6 ounces. That is a generous amount of meat. The meat portion of each meal averaged $4.50 per person.
Our guests all commented that the meat was rich and satisfying. They didn’t feel cheated with smaller portions and really enjoyed the wonderful flavor.
So I’d encourage you to take a chance on higher quality meat and see just how far you can make wha seems like an expensive piece of protein go. You might be really surprised at how good it tastes and how little meat you really need to eat to feel full and satisfied.
I’m looking forward to Christmas where we’ll eat the second turkey.