Author Topic: Turkey Question  (Read 3007 times)

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Amara

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Turkey Question
« on: September 30, 2012, 06:44:46 PM »
These discussions about Thanksgiving have me thinking about it in a big way. For the last several years I have bought my turkey at Trader Joe's. They have two kinds, one being kosher (Kosher?) The first year I bought a kosher one but was horrified --in fact, I nearly got sick--when I unwrapped it to discover a *lot) of pin feathers in the bird, far more than in a regular turkey. I took off most of them then cooked it but I ate very little and in fact ended up dumping most of the bird. I couldn't get all those feathers out of my mind. So I went back to regular. But I am wondering what the difference is. I thought the kosher bird would be cleaner, but maybe I am wrong. I would appreciate knowing the difference and if I just got a kind of "off" bird or if that is the way they come. Thanks!

violinp

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Re: Turkey Question
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2012, 06:54:43 PM »
I've never seen a bird in the supermarket like that.  :o I haven't noticed my store having kosher birds, though.
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NyaChan

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Re: Turkey Question
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2012, 06:57:26 PM »
We used to get a kosher bird every once in a while, (though there is a nearby farm that lets us do it ourselves in the halal way so we usually do that instead) and not once was there a feather.  Is it possible this was a mistake of some sort or perhaps they were going for the uber-organic/farm fresh/real bird sort of thing and thought the feathers would help prove it?

Paper Roses

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Re: Turkey Question
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2012, 11:00:52 PM »
I don't know if this is the only difference, but from what I understand, the kosher turkeys have been brined; meaning soaked in a salt-water solution, which I know doesn't sound good but it is supposed to make it very moist and flavorful.

I tried brining a turkey one year, but the brine I used was a recipe I'd found which consisted of apple cider, salt, and a bunch of spices, and you had to boil it for a certain amount of time and then let it cool, then soak the turkey in it for (I think) a whole day, then take it out and let it sit in the refrigerator for a day, all before cooking.  I have to admit, the turkey was delicious, but that's just way too much work if you ask me.  Plus, you have to have a big enough container and room in your refrigerator, neither of which I usually have.  The year I did it I ended up using a plastic dishpan, but it was filled to the very top and difficult to move around, and the turkey had to be turned every few hours. 

Oh - and I know you're thinking, "Wouldn't it make it very salty?" - you would think so, right?  But apparently for some reason letting it sit outside the brine for the last day somehow mitigates the saltiness.

Anyway, the instructions I found on line with the brine recipe said that an alternative to brining the turkey yourself would be to get a kosher one.  I've never been able to find one, though!
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Kaypeep

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Re: Turkey Question
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2012, 11:21:08 PM »
I got a kosher turkey one year, and had the same problem with the feathers.  It was a brand name, but sold through the butcher.  It came in a dark green plastic wrapper.  I was pretty annoyed because it was a lot of work to keep picking out the quills (if that's the correct term for it.)  I didn't ask for a kosher turkey, I ordered it by the pound and since I needed a small turkey that's what I got.  Since then I use a different butcher and don't have that problem, or I buy a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey since I don't need a massive bird.

cicero

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Re: Turkey Question
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2012, 02:52:48 AM »
These discussions about Thanksgiving have me thinking about it in a big way. For the last several years I have bought my turkey at Trader Joe's. They have two kinds, one being kosher (Kosher?) The first year I bought a kosher one but was horrified --in fact, I nearly got sick--when I unwrapped it to discover a *lot) of pin feathers in the bird, far more than in a regular turkey. I took off most of them then cooked it but I ate very little and in fact ended up dumping most of the bird. I couldn't get all those feathers out of my mind. So I went back to regular. But I am wondering what the difference is. I thought the kosher bird would be cleaner, but maybe I am wrong. I would appreciate knowing the difference and if I just got a kind of "off" bird or if that is the way they come. Thanks!
Kosher doesn't mean clean. kosher means that it is killed, checked, and prepped in a way that follows certain kosher rules.

(that doesn't mean that it should be full of feathers, either!)

I understand that it has something to do with the fact that the way the chickens are plucked could interfere with the koshering process. I'm sure this means that they can pluck the chickens *after* the process is completed, which seems to be the case for other manufacturers, just not the one that you purchased.

In israel, for some reason, it is impossible to find really featherless poultry so i either buy skinless chicken or i use my designated-for-poultry tweezers and clean 'em...

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Zilla

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Re: Turkey Question
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2012, 09:09:23 AM »
I too had gotten a turkey with some feathers on it.


I would try and get a turkey by a butcher and buy one unwrapped so you can visually see or ask the butcher for one that is known to be "plucked" fully.  I thirdly recommend the brining, so delish.  I just do a simple equal part salt/brown sugar with just enough water to melt the sugar and salt.  Then add the cool water.  I don't let it rest, and instead just take it out, dry thoroughly and let it sit on the counter and sit on a towel for an hour to come to room temperature before roasting.

Twik

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Re: Turkey Question
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2012, 09:39:36 AM »
I recall my grandmother and mother removing the final pinfeathers from the Christmas goose by going over it with a lit candle and singeing them off.
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Amara

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Re: Turkey Question
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2012, 01:33:42 PM »
Thank you, everyone. This is very helpful.

I haven't yet decided what to do. I just remember how grossed out I was. Maybe it was just that particular turkey or brand.

AngelicGamer

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Re: Turkey Question
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2012, 08:07:10 PM »
Huh - never heard of Kosher turkeys.  We usually go with an Amish Turkey from Whole Foods and they're amazing.  You might want to look into doing that, if you can, OP.




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Zilla

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Re: Turkey Question
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2012, 11:51:30 AM »
Huh - never heard of Kosher turkeys.  We usually go with an Amish Turkey from Whole Foods and they're amazing.  You might want to look into doing that, if you can, OP.


I will steal that suggestion as well, I didn't think of going there.

WillyNilly

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Re: Turkey Question
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2012, 12:31:08 PM »
As I don't keep Kosher I've never gotten a  Kosher bird.  I've wanted to because of the brine aspect but the cost is always a barrier - I can brine for much less myself!  (I just do a sugar salt & water mixture and brine for several hours, not a whole day, and as such i usually just let it brine in a huge bowl on the counter.)

I would be mighty squicked out and annoyed over the labor involved if I got a bird with feathers still on it, unless it was a freshly hunted wild organic bird.  (I would still be squicked out in that case, but Id be happy to know it wasn't farmed and would deal with the annoyance better.)

sweetonsno

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Re: Turkey Question
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2012, 03:26:22 PM »
"Non-kosher feather removal methods involve “scalding” — submerging a freshly-slaughtered poultry carcass in hot water (125-150°F) to relax the skin, making it possible for mechanical “pickers” to pull the feathers automatically. In a kosher setting, scalding cannot be done because we are forbidden from cooking an animal before it has been soaked and salted (see Yorah Deah 68:10 for details). Kosher processors must use mechanical pickers that work with cold water, which is less efficient and more time consuming, especially since cold water actually toughens the skin."

(From http://www.kosherblog.net/2007/05/31/faq-why-does-kosher-poultry-have-so-many-feathers/)

As a PP mentioned, you can pluck out the extra feathers (and stubs) with tweezers or needlenose pliers (if they are larger).

Incidentally, kosher refers to cleanliness according to the kosher tradition, not necessarily the Western standards. (See first reply here: http://askville.amazon.com/packaged-kosher-turkey-small-stubs-feathers-stuck/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=5770583)

doodlemor

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Re: Turkey Question
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2012, 03:49:32 PM »
Huh - never heard of Kosher turkeys.  We usually go with an Amish Turkey from Whole Foods and they're amazing.  You might want to look into doing that, if you can, OP.

We have had turkeys from a local farmer that were processed by the Amish.  They were always well cleaned.  There may have been a few quills on the tail at times, but the inside was always cleaned out properly. 

I remember watching  my grandmother carefully cleaning out supermarket chickens when I was a child.  She used to name the parts that she was removing.  Grandma had been raised on a farm, and apparently the insides of the birds didn't meet her standards. 

I recall my grandmother and mother removing the final pinfeathers from the Christmas goose by going over it with a lit candle and singeing them off.

I remember my grandma doing that to chickens and turkeys, too.  She used the gas burners instead of a candle, though.

People seem to be much more fastidious nowadays, and probably would not like some of the food conditions and preparations that were accepted in the past.

Chip2

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Re: Turkey Question
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2012, 04:54:29 PM »
I too had gotten a turkey with some feathers on it.


I would try and get a turkey by a butcher and buy one unwrapped so you can visually see or ask the butcher for one that is known to be "plucked" fully.  I thirdly recommend the brining, so delish.  I just do a simple equal part salt/brown sugar with just enough water to melt the sugar and salt.  Then add the cool water.  I don't let it rest, and instead just take it out, dry thoroughly and let it sit on the counter and sit on a towel for an hour to come to room temperature before roasting.

I handle my turkey the same way pre-oven, except I brush on a some canola oil mixed with a little onion, garlic, and paprika. The oven ritual is 500 degrees for 20-25 minutes to crisp up the skin, then I take the bird out and cover the breast with a foil tent and insert a probe thermometer in the breast. The oven gets turned down to 325 and the bird goes back in until the breast meat reads 165 degrees. I let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving and always get a perfectly cooked and juicy bird.

Wish my mom had known that trick. :\