With October upon us, families across Canada are preparing for one of the most comforting and restful holidays of the year: Thanksgiving. And for many people, that means shopping for that perfect turkey to serve for Thanksgiving dinner.
While there are lots of different dishes associated with Canadian Thanksgiving, the most popular is still a good, old fashioned roast turkey. If you want to get the best possible turkey for your family this October, here are a few tips from us at truLOCAL to help guide you in your shopping.
Whole turkeys may be the staple for many families, but if you have a lot of mouths to feed (and you really want to bring your feast to the next level), there are a lot of other turkey products you should consider making part of your truLOCAL order.
Why You Should Shop Local This Thanksgiving
There are a lot of things to consider when looking for the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. Not only do you need to find a bird that’s big enough to feed your family, you also want to be sure you get one that will fit in your oven and you can actually manage to prepare in your kitchen.
But there’s something else to keep in mind when shopping for your Thanksgiving turkey this year, and that is whether or not it has been raised locally.
At truLOCAL, we understand that eating well starts with quality local ingredients, which is why truLOCAL offers turkey delivery online to any address in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. It’s also why we’re making it easier for you to have great turkey raised in-province delivered straight to your door year round.
Ground Turkey: The All Purpose Option
Traditionally, most Canadians experience with turkey started and ended with the holiday roast. But as we become more health conscious as a society, other turkey products are becoming increasingly popular as alternatives to red meat or as exciting ingredients in their own right.
Probably the most popular of these is ground turkey which can be a fantastic low-fat replacement for ground beef in a wide variety of dishes, from Bolognese sauce to burgers and meatloaf.
There are literally dozens of recipes that use ground turkey available online, so if you are interested in making turkey a bigger part of your diet and are looking for ways to do so, you won’t find yourself short of options.
But while ground turkey can be used in just about any recipe that calls for ground beef, it is important to be aware of the ways in which turkey meat differs from beef if you want to get the best results.
Much like ground beef varies in terms of fat content, some versions of ground turkey are leaner than others, depending on whether they come from the dark meat of the thighs and drumsticks or the white meat of the breasts.
If you’re planning on using your ground turkey in a sauce, then you should be fine with leaner meat. But if you’re using it in a recipe for meatloaf, meatballs or burgers, then you’ll probably want turkey with a higher fat content. You can use leaner turkey in burger as well, but you’ll probably want to offset the leanness of the meat with more oil to ensure it stays moist.
It is also important to handle the meat as minimally as possible. Turkey is more delicate than beef, and if you knead it to much, it will contract and toughen, which will lead to a less appetizing meal. When making meatballs or burgers, lightly shape the patties until they cohere, and then set them aside. This will guarantee that they don’t fall apart while cooking without becoming tough and chewy.
Finally, turkey cooks more quickly than beef, so make sure to shave a few minutes of your standard cook time to avoid overcooking the meat.
Get More Protein With Turkey Thighs
Chicken thighs have long been a staple for Canadian families, and whether you like to serve them up hot from the barbecue or as part of a classic Filipino chicken adobo recipe, this is probably one poultry cut you make a regular part of your truLOCAL order.
But did you know that, if you want to maximize the amount of protein you are getting, organic turkey thighs are actually a better option?
It’s true: turkey thighs contain a whole gram more of protein per ounce of meat. This means that if you are trying to increase your protein intake, or simply want to get the most out of your meat, swapping out those chicken thighs for turkey thighs is a great way to do so.
This makes turkey an especially smart choice for people who are training, switching to a keto diet, or who simply live a very active lifestyle and need the strength and muscle density protein helps provide.
The best part is, chicken and turkey thigh meat is very similar in terms of its flavour, which means that you can upgrade your recipes without needing to worry about the turkey imparting a different taste.
Make Cheat Day a Thing of the Past With Turkey Bacon
Who doesn’t love bacon? A great cut of meat to have as a snack, as part of a classic dish like Spaghetti Carbonara, or as the main feature in a breakfast fry-up, bacon is one of the most popular cuts of meat available.
Unfortunately, traditional pork bacon is also pretty high in fat. And while this makes it a perfect choice for people on the keto diet, if you are trying to cut back on fatty foods, bacon can be a bit of a calorie-bomb.
The good news is that cutting pork bacon out of your diet doesn’t mean giving up bacon altogether; turkey bacon is a great alternative for people who are trying to eat more healthily but can’t abide the idea of foregoing bacon altogether.
Unlike regular bacon, which comes from the pig’s fatty belly meat, turkey bacon is made by grinding up turkey, mixing it with oil and seasonings, and forming it into the shape of bacon rashers.
This allows it to mimic that consistency and cooking qualities of bacon while reducing the overall fat (while giving people who abstain from eating pork for religious reasons an opportunity to experience something similar to bacon in texture and taste).
When it comes to cooking with turkey bacon, there are a few things you will need to keep in mind: because turkey bacon is lower in fat, it is prone to drying out, so you should reduce the cook time for your favourite recipes. It also doesn’t curl in the pan the way regular bacon does, which makes it easier to incorporate into sandwiches and other meals.
All of this means that if you want to stay true to your diet without missing out on your favourite dishes, turkey bacon is the perfect substitute. There’s no need for cheat days when you are replacing high fat bacon with lean, delicious turkey bacon from truLOCAL!
Give Your Favourite Recipes a New Spin With Turkey Breasts
If there is one absolutely essential poultry cut, of course, it is the breast. Prized as a source for lean, flavourful white meat, chicken and turkey breasts are some of the most popular products for delivery in truLOCAL meat boxes (which is one of the reasons we provide so many pre-seasoned options to make gourmet cooking faster).
If you are used to chicken breasts, the first time you cook with organic turkey breasts you’ll probably notice a few differences, though.
Not only are turkey breasts larger and meatier than chicken breasts, they are also leaner, and have a firmer texture. This makes them the ideal meat for some recipes, but it can also make them more prone to overcooking.
But there are also differences you may not be able to see. For example, turkey breasts contain fewer calories per ounce than chicken breasts do, and they typically have a deeper and more complex flavour. While the flavour and texture of chicken and turkey are much more similar to each other than either of them are to game birds like duck or pheasant, turkey fans will often argue that turkey has a less bland, more substantial taste.
The real difference between chicken and turkey becomes apparent when you cook them, however. Because turkey is leaner and firmer, it is better to cook it for longer at lower temperatures to avoid making the meat tough and stringy. It’s also a good idea to baste it regularly so the meat stays as moist as possible.
This makes turkey a great choice for curries or other sauce-based dishes that need to simmer for a longer period of time. Not only will the turkey provide you with more meat and a lower calorie count, the meat’s unique flavour profile holds up well with strong spices and seasonings.
You shouldn’t let these minor differences keep you from using turkey breasts in your favourite tried and true recipes, however — whether you want a nice dry protein for a salad or you are looking for something substantial but lean for your last cook-out of the year, turkey breasts are a versatile, popular choice that will keep you coming back for more.
Save Time Cooking Turkey By Using the Right Tools
Finally, when prepping your holiday meal, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the best possible tools for the job.
With so many dishes going on the stovetop and the oven, and given what we’ve discussed about the dangers of cooking your turkey for too long, you should look into how the best gadgets to cook meat can save you time in the kitchen while also delivering moist, delicious turkey.
Here are just a few of the kitchen aids that can help you get the best results with your turkey cuts:
- Sous vide: in the past couple of years, sous vide has seen an explosion in popularity, in part because of its convenience and in part because of its precision. Sous vide uses vacuum-sealed packages of meat and herbs that you assemble in your own kitchen. These packages are then cooked in hot water using a precision heating tool that gives you precise control over temperature, keeping the meat nice and moist.
- Instant pot: no tool is as useful to the chef-in-a-hurry as the instant pot. By cooking ingredients at high pressure, instant pots let you prepare large amounts of meat in a fraction of the time it would take in the oven.
- Slow cooker: autumn is a time of soups, stews, and hearty sauces, and if you want to cook your turkey thighs so the meat is falling off the bone, a slow cooker lets you set the timer and walk away so you can focus on other parts of your Thanksgiving meal.
Turkey has been associated with Canadian Thanksgiving for generations, but as poultry in general and turkey in particular become more popular with North American families, people are finding lots of ways to make different turkey cuts part of their meals not just during the holiday season, but during the rest of the year as well.
But if you want to find the most convenient way of getting top quality turkey delivered straight to your door anywhere in Ontario, Alberta, or British Columbia, you need to sign up for truLOCAL’s fresh meat delivery service.
With truLOCAL, you don’t just convenient, reliable delivery: you also get local turkey from artisanal producers in-province, which is better for the planet, better for local farmers, and better for you.
This Thanksgiving, make sure you’re putting the best turkey on the table by ordering it through truLOCAL’s fresh meat delivery service. Get in touch to start your meat box today!