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Fowl Language

Chef Juliano Rodrigues of Out of The Blue visits two stores in the city to help you pick the best big bird for Thanksgiving today.

Written by Meenakshi Iyer |
November 28, 2013 4:33:24 am

A custom that started in 17th century America has found a special place in Thanksgiving celebrations and has become the centrepiece of celebratory dinners in large families across the globe. Come December,traditional turkey dishes make an appearance on restaurant menus,but few stores in the city manage to provide fresh produce that can be cooked at home.

Finding a turkey in time for Thanksgiving can be a pain-inducing exercise,with the city receiving its share only by the second week of December. When a quick search online didn’t yield much results,we rang up the expert,Chef Juliano Rodrigues of Out of The Blue and took him out on a turkey trail to find that elusive fresh bird.

The pursuit of fresh turkey led us to a tiny shop in Andheri’s Model Town — Universal Trading Co. Don’t go by its bare interiors,this store is a goldmine for meat lovers. As chef picks out a young and fresh turkey,his eyes light up. And as he pokes the bird he gives us a thumbs up on its freshness. Sourced from farms in Bangalore and Pune,the fresh turkey is easier to roast at home in a domestic oven and costs far less. The one we picked was roughly about three kg and cost about Rs 420 per kg.

In India,a white-breasted turkey is extremely popular,whereas the black-breasted turkey — also known as Black Spanish or Norfolk Black — has not found much acceptance. “Since it’s black in colour people assume that its rotten,but in fact its the more expensive and meatier variety,” says chef Rodrigues. The white-breasted turkey can weigh anywhere between three — eight kg and the black-breasted can weight up to 15 kg.

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While choosing a fresh turkey you also need to check whether it has been cleaned well and that there are no visible blood strings. Since turkey is trickier to slaughter than other poultry because of its size,it leaves behind blood marks if not cleaned properly.

Our next pit stop,Sante,is a gourmet store nestled between a noisy market and the upmarket neighbourhood of Pali Hill in Bandra. You are greeted by neatly stacked racks of sauces,jams and marmalades,but it’s the frozen imported turkey we were there for. Since Chef Rodrigues wanted the biggest size available,the store manager fished out a mighty bird that weighed more than five kg and was priced at Rs 2,000 a kg.

“The ideal way to freeze a turkey is in a blast freezer. If the outside temperature is 18 degrees,turkey should be frozen at about minus 18 degrees in order to retain its freshness and juices,” says Chef Rodrigues. Ideally,frozen turkey should be thawed for close to 24 hours in a fridge set at a temperature between 4 – 8 degrees. “While imported turkey is more expensive,its Indian counterpart is equally juicy and costs four times less. A young turkey is about two-and-half to three kg and could work well for small families,” says Chef Rodrigues.

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