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 Great Cooking Turkey Tips For Choosing Your Bird 
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Post Great Cooking Turkey Tips For Choosing Your Bird
Great Cooking Turkey Tips For Choosing Your Bird
by: Chef Todd Mohr

I’ve got a lot of cooking turkey tips for you this year, but the very first must be choosing your bird. There are many different classifications and labels that are placed on Thanksgiving fowl, and it can be confusing knowing which type of poultry to purchase.

A “Free Range” bird may not have as much free range as you think. The USDA requires only that birds have “some access to the outdoors”. It’s more important to know what your turkey was fed than the USDA label placed upon it by narrow definitions.

A “Fresh Turkey” must never have been frozen, you must think. You’d be wrong. A “fresh” turkey is held at 26 degrees Fahrenheit, 6 degrees lower than the freezing temperature of water. This is allowed because turkey skin and flesh don’t freeze until 26 degrees. However, the water within the turkey does freeze and expand, causing potential damage.

The best of my cooking turkey tips is don’t ever buy a turkey with ice crystals formed on it. These quick-frozen turkeys can defrost and then be re-frozen slowly, causing ice crystals to form.

The USDA will also attach “Inspected for Wholesomeness” and a “Grade” stamp on slaughtered poultry. The grading is a purely voluntary program that examines the quality of the carcass, not flavor or nutritional value.

Turkeys are graded by age. A “Fryer/Roaster” is under 16 weeks of age. It’s a very young turkey with flexible cartilage and low body fat. A “Young” turkey is 5-7 months old and represents most of the turkeys sold. A “Yearling” is about a year old, and a “Mature” turkey is more than 13 months old.

Generally, the older the bird, the tougher but more flavorful the meat. Obviously, larger birds are more mature as it takes longer to back on the pounds.

If you don’t have the ability to pre-order and visit your local turkey farm to get the most absolutely freshest turkey, my cooking turkey tip is to visit your local grocery store.

The commercially produced turkeys are flash-frozen at extremely low temperatures in a short amount of time. This keeps the ice crystals that form to a minimum. Ice crystals expand and tear the flesh of a slowly frozen bird.

How much turkey should you buy? I recommend 1 pound per person that you’re feeding. After about 20% cooking loss and 40% trim loss, you’ll have 5 ounces per person. That’s enough for Thanksgiving dinner and some leftovers for the next day.

These cooking turkey tips are designed to give you the information necessary for making your own decisions about what to buy.

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See the entire Cooking Turkey Tips video by clicking now. Chef Todd Mohr has freed thousands of people from the frustration of written recipes with his online cooking classes. The Chef’s cooking DVD series “Burn Your Recipes” empowers people to cook with basic methods and the ingredients they desire.
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Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:14 pm
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