Thanksgiving Post-Mortem

For those interested in trivia, 51 million turkeys were consumed by Americans this Thanksgiving Day.  Needless, to say not all Americans gathered around the table to give thanks: Native Americans gather annually on this day in Plymouth, MA to celebrate this “National Day of Mourning.”

It’s hard to argue with their point of view, but I suspect that if the NFL Washington “Redskins” change their name and logo to something less “racially” offensive like “Foreskins” all will be forgiven by Native Americans.

Given GourMay’s declining readership, Editor-in-Chief Sheila has recommended that we give readers “what they want to hear,” rather than the “rantings of a grumpy old man.” We want to hear from you, so please check on the box below that best represents your view in this year’s first “Right Side of History” Poll:


Regardless of which way you voted, I would like to provide readers with a post-mortem on my spatchcock heritage turkey that we cooked for Thanksgiving. It was delicious and the recommended timing was dead on! I will certainly be using the technique for all future turkeys. Found below are a few photographs of the bird at various stages of the cooking process.

Turkey Legs Skin Side Down at 250 degrees

Turkey Legs Skin Side Down at 250 degrees

Flip turkey breast and cook for about 2 hrs at 250 degress

Flip turkey breast and cook for about 2 hrs at 250 degrees

Papa and sous chef with Turkey

Papa and sous chef with Turkey

Now there are many people who dismiss the culinary virtues of a heritage turkey, but frankly it tastes like turkey rather than the factory-farm variety produced by Perdue. Courtesy of Cooks Illustrated (Nov-Dec Edition), found below are the characteristics of a heritage turkey as agreed to by the Livestock Conservancy and the American Poultry Association:

  1. Heritage turkeys must have a long productive lifespan – five to seven years for breeding hens, three to five years for breeding toms – and have a genetic ability to withstand the environmental rigors of outdoor production systems.

  2. Heritage turkey must have a slow to moderate rate of growth, reaching marketable weight in about 28 weeks, giving the birds time to develop a strong skeletal structure and healthy organs before building muscle mass.  Commercial turkeys grow to full size in only 12 to 14 weeks.

  3. Unlike commercial turkeys that must artificially inseminated, heritage birds are the result of naturally mating pairs of both grandparent and parent stock.

Now heritage turkeys cost quite a bit more, but are certainly worth the money.  If you attend a market, consult with your poultry specialist.  They often can supply heritage turkeys for far less than ordering online.