When it comes to cooking turkeys, you get one, maybe two chances a year max to get it right. Make sure the centerpiece of your holiday table shines by investing in a flavorful bird that was raised naturally by farmers who care. If you’re cooking your own, you want to make sure you get the highest quality raw gobbler, but there are plenty of spots now that will kick-start the process for you, so you’ll be doing less cooking on the big day. These seven turkeys—whole and raw, brined and smoked, or seasoned and roasted—are available online from trusted purveyors, ones you won’t see doing business in a big-box grocery store’s freezer section. Pre-order one now and worry about the green bean casserole later.
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The Amish community has been raising animals in the Mid-Atlantic for centuries. Their passion for being stewards of the land and maintaining their traditional way of living results in high-quality, broad-breasted birds that are succulent but low in fat (2.5 grams per 4-ounce serving). Order a 15-18-pound pasture-raised turkey (shipped frozen) from an independent farmer in Amish Country through Crowd Cow, an eco-conscious meat supplier that hand-picks and vouches for all of the animals it ships out around the country.
Do happy turkeys taste better? Find out for yourself with a bird from Porter Road. This Nashville-based meat shop sources all their meat from trusted farms around Tennessee, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, and the chef-owners visit them regularly to verify the animals are raised in the best possible environments. This year, Porter Road is getting its Thanksgiving turkeys from Jolly Barnyard in Southwest Kentucky. Their 13-15.5-pound whole turkey (including the neck and giblets) serves up to 15 and ships frozen. At Jolly Barnyard, the birds roam freely on outdoor pastures and forage for bugs and foliage, as wild turkeys do. The birds are exercised, socialize and, presumably, very jolly.
Fossil Farms, an anti-conventionally raised meat purveyor in New Jersey, specializes in wild game, fowl and exotic meats. Its 16 to 18-pound whole bird turkeys are raised nearby in Pennsylvania, where they roam free and eat a vegetarian diet of local rye, oats, alfalfa and soybeans. By promoting the health and welfare of the animals, Fossil Farms believes it also supports the health and welfare of everyone at your Thanksgiving table and ultimately, the health and welfare of the planet.
The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint
There’s always that one person who goes to a barbecue joint and orders turkey. Not saucy ribs or pulled pork or fatty sausage, but turkey. At the Guy Fieri-approved The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the turkey, if you can believe it, is the star of the barbecue pit. And now you can get one of their 9 to 10-pound whole smoked turkeys shipped to your home through Gold Belly. The Shed brines whole birds for 27 hours and then slow smokes them over sweet pecan wood, giving them a tender interior and crispy, showstopping exterior.
One thing you probably haven’t thought about when picking out your bird is its DNA. But that’s all poultry farmer Frank Reese thinks about. His family has been raising heritage turkeys—the oldest continuous breeding line of turkeys in North America—on Kansas prairies for four generations. In fact, Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch is the only commercial USDA farm certified to raise and sell these rare and endangered breeds. They are purebred, one of eight varieties of Standardbred turkeys in existence and the flocks are encouraged to roam freely on pastures and mate naturally. Get one of their 16-18-pound fresh heritage turkeys, which are never frozen and include the neck, giblets and the satisfaction of knowing your purchase supports the ranch’s conservation-focused nonprofit.
Save time and refrigerator space by purchasing a conveniently pre-brined turkey. The organic birds available through Williams Sonoma originate on Willie Bird turkey farm in Northern California, where they eat natural grains and roam freely on grassy, oak tree-shaded hills in Sonoma County. The fresh, free-range, pre-brined organic turkeys are then soaked in Williams Sonoma’s signature autumn spice brine. The savory blend includes fruits and herbs like apples, juniper berries, lemons, garlic, peppercorns and rosemary. Once cooked, the bird turns out extra flavorful and extra juicy, sans the extra work.
Bump up your centerpiece’s sophistication with a black-truffle-coated turkey breast from artisanal meat supplier D’Artagnan. These fully cooked, 3.5-pound breasts are nitrate- and nitrite-free and sourced from birds that were humanely raised on small, American family farms. Thick slices of black truffles are pressed into the top of the ready-to-eat whole breast muscle. The fragrant breasts can be heated, sliced thick, and served with gravy, a la carving a whole bird (the breast is trimmed on the ends for even slicing), or you can take it straight to the leftovers stage and stuff it in cold-cut sandwiches, salads, or over-the-top omelets.