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Consumer Diary: Thanksgiving Turkeys

Crown Market Dinner for 4: $179. Photo credit: Harlan Levy

Consumer columnist and West Hartford resident Harlan Levy has more than 20 years of experience writing stories about everyday experiences that anyone could encounter.

Hall’s Market Complete Dinner for 10-12. $199.99. Photo credit: Harlan Levy

By Harlan Levy

About 46 million turkeys will be eaten on the 160th Thanksgiving public holiday this year (Abe Lincoln declared it in 1863) according to the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association – 50% of all whole turkeys sold annually.

But if you’d rather not cook, I’ve compiled a list of some area outfits that will provide you with the whole dinner.

Also, my wife says, “There is this age-old controversy about whether to get a fresh or frozen turkey.” Also, she wants to know the difference between organic, non-organic, kosher, and Butterball turkeys. “There is a BIG price difference,” she says (with emphasis). “I agonize over it every year. A fresh turkey might cost two or three times as much. Ditto kosher. Is it worth the difference? Is it healthier or tastier? I have cooked a turkey every Thanksgiving for decades and I still have no idea.” I’ll try to answer.

First, my list:

  • Hall’s Market: 860-232-1075, 331 Park Road, WH. Visit hallsmarket.net: Complete Dinner serves 10-12: Cooked turkey, choice of 3 sides, 12 dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, apple or pumpkin pie: $199.99. Order by Nov. 18.
  • The Crown Market: 860-236-1965, 2471 Albany Ave., WH. Visit holidayorders.crownmarketonline.com: Dinner for 4 ($179) and 8 ($329): Half or whole roasted turkey, appetizers, soups, sides, cranberry, 6 or 12 dinner rolls, pumpkin pie or apple crisp. Order by Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. In-store pick-up Nov. 22, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Whole Foods Market: Search for shop.wfm.com. Click on “Meals and Catering.” Roast Whole Turkey Dinner for 8 or 12: Turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry orange sauce, etc.: $169.99 (8). $239 (12). Place orders at least 48 hours ahead of pickup date and time. Order by Nov. 21.
  • Big Y: Whole Turkey Dinner for 6 to 8: Fully cooked 10-12 lb. turkey, Visit bigy.com, click on “Holiday Selections,” then “Thanksgiving Feast.” 10-12 lb. turkey, veg, potatoes, dessert, etc.: $129.99. Order by Nov. 18, pickup Nov. 21 and 22.
  • The Fresh Market: 860-677-0756, 315 West Main St., Avon. Ultimate Holiday Meal for 12-14: Fully cooked turkey (10-12 lb.), boneless sliced ham (3.5 lb.), Yukon Gold whipped potatoes (4 lb.), stuffing (3 lb.), gravy (30 oz.), roasted butternut squash with pecans, cranberries (2 lb.), green beans (2 lb.), cranberry relish with walnuts (1 lb.), 24 dinner rolls: $199.99, members $10 off. Traditional Holiday Meal for 8-10: same as above but no ham, 12 rolls: $99.99, members $10 off. To order visit shop.thefreshmarket.com, call, or visit the store.
  • Trader Joe’s: 860-561-4771. Whole uncooked turkeys, assorted sides: Visit traderjoes.com, click on “Products,” then “food.” All Natural Antibiotic Free Brined Fresh Young Turkeys (12-16 lbs. Or 17-22 lbs.): $2.49/lb.; Goat Kosher Fresh Young Turkeys – not brined, salted with a kosher-certified method, no giblet: $3.49/lb.; Organic Free Range Young Turkeys, not brined, giblets: $3.99/lb.: In-store purchase, may run out 2 to 3 days before Thanksgiving.
  • Max Catering: 413-746-3003. Whole Turkey Dinner (6-8): Natural turkey (all gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free) golden brown, gravy, cranberry, 2 quarts of stuffing, 2 quarts of sides, 12 cheddar pull-apart dinner rolls, whole baked pie: $249. Also available turkeys raw, tied,ready to cook in a roasting pan. Order before 3 p.m. Nov. 16. Pick up Nov. 22 at Savoy Pizzeria (LaSalle Road) 10 a.m.-4 p.m. or Max Fish, Glastonbury 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Delivery Nov. 22 ($50) within 25 miles of Savoy or Max Fish. All items packed cold with reheating instructions. More information can be found at maxrestaurantgroup.com.
  • If you’re not turkey aficionados, how about a Seafood Shovel from More Than Just Sharkbite for 4 or 5: 2 whole lobsters, shrimp, clams, mussels, crawfish, corn on the cob, potatoes, broccoli, onion, garlic cheese, Cajun and lemon butter sauces: $95. Order by Nov. 22. 860-519-1281. 1037 Boulevard, West Hartford.

The Seafood Shovel for 4 or 5 from Not Just Sharkbite: $95. Courtesy of Not Just Sharkbite

Definitions, taste, prices

  • Organic turkey: USDA-regulated. Only fed organic feed, no antibiotics, steroids, antifungals, processed without preservatives. Site with no herbicides, sanitation chemicals, outdoor access.
  • Nonorganic turkeys: They eat genetically-modified corn, soy, or grains treated with pesticides, which can build up in their fatty tissues, which we eat.
  • All-natural turkey: Not fed animal by-products, growth promoters, minimal processing, no injected flavors or brining.
  • Free-range turkey: Outdoor access.
  • Cage-Free Turkey: All turkeys are cage-free.
  • Hormone-Free Turkey: Illegal to use hormones.
  • Kosher turkey: All-natural, free-roaming, fed natural feeds, vitamins, minerals, fat. Ritually slaughtered, cleaned in cold water, salted (not brined), and rinsed to drain all blood. Taste: saltier than normal bird.
  • Fresh v. frozen: Fresh turkeys, with their more natural diet, can have a slightly “gamey” taste and tougher texture but retain more moisture for more flavor. Frozen birds: generally raised in closed spaces, instead of grass, fed corn, other grains, often given antibiotics to maintain health, increase weight.
  • Butterball turkeys: Largest producer of U.S. turkey products. All-natural, gluten-free. Pre-brined in breast meat to make it juicier and more tender than regular turkeys. Per-pound price: around $1. Store-brand: under 40 cents/lb. Saves time of home brining. Usually tastier than regular turkeys.
  • Prices: Whole Foods: Fresh: Regular: $2.99/lb., Organic: $3.99, Kosher: $3.99. Frozen: Regular: $2.49, Organic: $3.49, Kosher: $3.49.
  • Trader Joe’s: Fresh: Regular: $2.49, Organic: $3.99, Kosher: $3.49.
  • Big Y: Fresh: Regular: $1.89. Frozen: Regular: $1.39, Butterball: $1.89.

Happy Thanksgiving! Take time to discuss the events that led to the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving!

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