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A New Taste for Thanksgiving

Thought you knew every way to cook a turkey? Think again, says Moorings Chef Michael Lander.

Tom turkeys on the Crazy Hart Ranch.

Tom turkeys on the Crazy Hart Ranch.

What can we say about cooking a turkey on the feast of Thanksgiving that hasn’t already been said? Well, not much. But we can revisit the basics, and add some extra twists that might give your traditional holiday menu a delicious new perspective.

Giving thanks for a bountiful harvest dates back to the ancient Greeks, Romans and Chinese. However, our Thanksgiving bird is an American original – or North American to be more exact, since some say that Mexico was the first country to domesticate the turkey. And when the conquistadores realized what a culinary treat the turkey was, they carried one tom and five hens on each ship returning to Spain so that Europeans could breed and enjoy the New World fowl.

The commercial turkey industry has prospered in this country for the past 50 years, and two generations of Americans likely have no recollection of their customary Thanksgiving turkey other than the frozen variety that takes up valuable space in the refrigerator days before the holiday.

However, turkey connoisseurs say that a fresh turkey, with none of the flavor injected into the meat, beats the frozen version in any taste test. Fortunately, fresh turkeys are readily available at local supermarkets. In addition, pastured turkeys can be ordered for the holidays from the Crazy Hart Ranch in Fellsmere. The five-acre farm, owned and operated by Linda Hart, is the only licensed pastured poultry producer in Florida.

Read the entire article in the November 2010 issue