Heritage turkeys (also known as standard breed among poultry
breeders) have been bread to resemble the older registered
turkey varieties. They must be able to breed naturally, live
seven to nine years, and grow slowly. Because heritage turkeys
grow slower than modern commercial varieties and are pasture
fed, rather than raised exclusively on grain, their meat tends
to be more flavorful.
Whether your turkey is heritage, certified organic (i.e.
raised on organic feed), or the standard commercial variety,
the consensus among chefs is that brining is the key to a
juicy and flavorful bird. The meat gradually absorbs the salty
liquid through osmosis. But what exactly should go into the
brine? The salinity of the brining solution is the most important
factor – use 2 cups of salt for 2 gallons of water.
The seasonings and aromatics are entirely up to you. How long
should you brine the bird? Anywhere from 8 hours to 3 days,
just as long as you keep it covered and refrigerated. Find
more Thanksgiving turkey tips and recipe ideas from Chefs
Michael Romano, Mark Dommen and Marco Moreira.