Thanksgiving Pre-Order FAQ

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A1. What kind of turkeys are available? Are they organic / heritage / local / free-range / etc?

These 100% all natural turkeys (NO antibiotics and NO hormones) are raised on rotating pasture in accordance with the principles of sustainable farming. They are free-range, but they are not certified organic. Their diet consists of natural forage supplemented with local non-GMO corn and soy. Our birds are pasture-raised but not grass-fed for one simple reason: turkeys don’t eat grass.

Our turkeys are broad-breasted whites, hatched and raised to order specifically for us on a farm near Ithaca, NY. They are considered a classic breed, as opposed to certain rare “heritage” birds. The broad-breasted white is easier to cook and features a milder flavor and better texture than some heritage breeds.

A2. Can I pre-order a different kind of turkey? Say, a heritage or certified organic bird?

Depending on what you’re looking for, we may be able to accommodate special requests with sufficient notice. If you have your heart set on a certified organic bird or a particular heritage breed turkey, click here to send us an email. We’ll get back to you ASAP with availability and pricing.

A3. Will my turkey be fresh or frozen? Do I need to plan time to thaw?

Our turkeys are sold fresh, never frozen. They are processed the week before Thanksgiving and should have a shelf-life of 10-14 days at least. During processing, our birds are washed clean with ice water, and then air-chilled. This process gives the birds a better texture. If you do choose to freeze your bird, please plan ample time (several days) for it to thaw. For quality and food safety reasons, never refreeze a thawed bird.

A4. Do you offer fully cooked and/or smoked turkeys?

Unfortunately, because of space constraints in our kitchen, we are unable to offer fully cooked and/or smoked turkeys this year.

A5. Will you have whole turkeys available for walk-ins if I choose not to pre-order?

Possibly, but don’t bet on it. We always buy a few extra turkeys for last minute shoppers, but these tend to go fast. If we do have them, they will be sold first come, first served. We cannot hold these turkeys for customers who call ahead.

A6. Will you have turkey parts available? Can I pre-order these?

We will have whole and split turkey breasts, legs, and wings for sale in the case. These are not available for pre-order and will be sold first come, first served.

A7. I hate turkey… can I pre-order something else?

Absolutely! Turkey isn’t for everybody. We will be taking pre-orders for whole ducks, classic maple-glazed hams, and standing beef rib roasts. If you’re interested in something else (e.g. goose, capon, crown pork roast, porchetta, etc.), click here to send us an email. We’ll get back to you ASAP with availability and pricing.

A8. Does my bird come with its liver, neck, and giblets for making gravy?

Yup! Inside the bird, you should find all the giblets ready for gravy making.

A9. Do you offer Thanksgiving sides for pre-order?

We will be offering a limited amount of ready-to-eat sides. Check back soon for more info.

B1. Can I pre-order a turkey from Foster Sundry online?

Absolutely, and you should! Click here to place your turkey pre-order.

B2. Is there a deadline for placing a pre-order?

Yes. Pre-orders must be placed by end of day on Wednesday, November 15th.

B3. How much does a turkey cost? Does my pre-order guarantee me a bird?

Our turkeys are $6.99 / LB. A $50 deposit will confirm your pre-order and guarantee you a bird. Your final price depends on how large your turkey is. For example:

Turkey Size:Price / LBTotal Cost:Deposit:Remainder Upon Pickup:
10 LBs$6.99 / LB$69.90 total$50 deposit$19.90 remaining
12 LBs$6.99 / LB$83.88 total$50 deposit$33.88 remaining
14 LBs$6.99 / LB$97.86 total$50 deposit$47.86 remaining
16 LBs$6.99 / LB$111.84 total$50 deposit$61.84 remaining
18 LBs$6.99 / LB$125.82 total$50 deposit$75.82 remaining

B4. What size turkey should I buy? Is there any variation between birds?

We generally recommend about 1 LB per child/small eater and 1.5 LB per adult in raw weight turkey. This will provide you with ample food for guests and a little bit for leftovers. So, for example, if you’re having 10 people at your meal (6 adults and 4 children, say), we would recommend a roughly 13 LB bird (6 x 1.5 + 4 x 1).

The birds will vary somewhat within your requested size range, but otherwise there is no difference between one bird and the next.

B5. Last year, I ordered a 10-12 LB bird and got a 14 LBer instead. What gives?

We make our absolute best effort to match every pre-order customer with a turkey in their desired weight range. However, it is important to note that these are local, pasture-raised birds and not factory-farmed, previously frozen turkeys. Because the turkeys are raised for us before pre-orders are actually taken, there will be some natural variation in the sizes of the birds we receive.

We assign every bird to a specific customer, based on pre-order date (NOT pick up date) and desired weight range. So customers who pre-order earlier will be more likely to receive a bird exactly in the middle of their weight range versus customers who pre-order later or walk-in customers. Your pickup time has no bearing on the bird you are assigned.

We always order extra birds to give us more flexibility with sizing, but occasionally, some customers may still receive a slightly larger bird than they requested. If you have a question about the size of your pre-order bird, please ask a butcher or click here to send us an email. We’ll get back to you ASAP.

B6. When can I pick up my pre-order? What’s the process for this?

Pre-orders will be available for pickup beginning Saturday morning, November 18th. We will send an email out on Monday, November 13th asking for a preferred pickup slot. These will be:

Pick Up Date:Day:Time (AM / PM):
November 18th 2017SaturdayAM (10AM - 2PM)
November 18th 2017SaturdayPM (3PM - 7PM)
November 19th 2017SundayAM (10AM - 2PM)
November 19th 2017SundayPM (3PM - 7PM)
November 20th 2017MondayAM (10AM - 2PM)
November 20th 2017MondayPM (3PM - 7PM)
November 21st 2017TuesdayAM (10AM - 2PM)
November 21st 2017TuesdayPM (3PM - 7PM)
November 22nd 2017WednesdayAM (10AM - 2PM)
November 22nd 2017WednesdayPM (3PM - 7PM)
November 23rd 2017ThursdayAM (10AM - 2PM)

By selecting your preferred pickup slot, you will make the pickup process easier and more efficient. However, if you can’t make your pickup for some reason, or you get tied up, don’t sweat it. Just call us or shoot us an email and let us know when you can make it.

When you arrive to pick up your turkey, just head back to the butcher counter and make sure to give them the name associated with your pre-order.

B7. My plans changed… can I cancel my pre-order?

We use your pre-order to lock in our supply with the farmer. Once we get your pre-order, we can’t cancel it. However, if the situation is urgent, please call or email us, and we will do our best to find another home for your turkey.

C1. Will you spatchcock / break-down / prepare my bird?

Absolutely! While some people insist on roasting their turkey whole for the sake of tradition, many others have switched to spatchcocking or breaking down their bird and cooking different pieces separately.

Spatchcocking is just a funny word for removing the backbone and flattening the bird for more even cooking. For more information on spatchcocking turkey, check out J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s treatise on Serious Eats.

There will be an option during checkout to specify the preparation of your bird.

C2. What’s the deal with brining? Should I dry brine or wet brine, or not brine at all?

Brining is a process in which you add salt (in either dry or liquid form) to your bird in advance of cooking to improve the texture and flavor. We highly recommend brining your bird at least 24 hours before cooking. This will ensure more even seasoning throughout your turkey.

As for dry brining vs. wet, it’s a matter of personal preference. Dry brining will draw out moisture, which mixes with the salt on the surface of the bird and then gets reabsorbed. You will need at least 24 hours of brine time for best results. Dry brining tends to concentrate flavor, making the turkey taste more, well, like turkey. It’s also considerably easier and less messy than wet brining.

To dry brine your turkey, use about ½ teaspoon kosher salt for every pound of turkey. Feel free to mix in your favorite ground herbs and spices with the salt to add more flavor.

Wet brining uses a solution of salt, water, and aromatics to introduce flavor and seasoning into the bird. It tends to result in a plumper bird with moister texture, but it can be difficult to get the skin crispy. Common additions to brine solutions include lemons, apples, oranges, onion, garlic, shallots, peppercorns, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, juniper berries, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, rosemary, sage, thyme, savory, parsley, oregano. You can also replace half the water with cider, stock, beer, or wine for different results. Feel free to improvise here, provided you maintain the overall ratio of salt to liquid. A good basic recipe is 2 gallons of water to 1 cup kosher salt for at least 1 day.

Important: If you do choose to brine your turkey, do not season it with additional salt before cooking. And if you are using turkey drippings in your gravy, do not use pre-seasoned stock or broth. Make your gravy and season to taste just before service.

C3. How do I roast a whole turkey in the oven?

A cursory Google search yields hundreds of pages with seemingly infinite tips and tricks for the perfect roast turkey. But Thanksgiving can be stressful, and we recommend keeping things as simple as possible for best results.

If you plan to brine your turkey, make sure to allow adequate time (at least 24 hours) for the brine to work its magic. Pat your bird dry with paper towels, and do not re-season your bird with salt before cooking.

Preheat your oven to 325° F. Take a softened stick of butter and rub down the turkey both inside and out. Make sure to get between the skin and the meat, and inside the cavity. Take care not to tear the skin.

If you brined, your bird is already seasoned. You can add more aromatics like black pepper now if you like, but do not add any more salt.

If you did not brine, season your turkey aggressively with at least ½ teaspoon kosher salt per LB of meat.

Place a halved lemon, a halved onion, and some sprigs of rosemary and thyme in the cavity. This will help keep the breast moist.

We recommend roasting on a simple half-sheet pan fitted with a V-rack. Place the bird on the rack breast-side up, tent the breast with aluminum foil and place it in the oven.

Monitor the temperature frequently with an instant read probe thermometer. Make sure to temp the deepest part of the breast AND the deepest part of the thigh.

After 90 minutes, or when the temperature in the thigh reaches 145° F, remove the foil tent from the breast.

When the deepest part of the breast reaches 150° F and the deepest part of the thigh registers at 165° F, your turkey is done. Remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes.

C4. Do I need any special tools or pans I need to roast a turkey?

We recommend people skip the fancy turkey roasting pans in favor of a simple half-sheet pan with a V-rack. These are inexpensive and easy to source. Also, buy an instant read digital probe thermometer! Just do it.

C5. How do I know when my turkey is done? How long does it take? Do I need a thermometer?

The safest, most accurate way to know when your turkey is done is to use an instant read probe thermometer. Seriously! Buy one — they’re inexpensive and incredibly useful.

You will see many recommended temperatures for turkey, but here’s what to remember: breast meat and thigh meat must be cooked to different temperatures to be safe and delicious. Breast meat toughens up and dries out quickly above 150° F, whereas thigh meat isn’t really palatable until it hits at least 165° F.

When the deepest part of the breast reaches 150° F and the deepest part of the thigh registers at 165° F, your turkey is done.*

How long your turkey will take depends on a number of factors, including the size of your turkey, the model and accuracy of your oven, whether you brined or not, etc. We try to avoid suggesting cook times to people, and instead strongly recommend the use of a thermometer. But as a very rough rule of thumb, plan on 10-15 minutes per pound.

* Note: the USDA recommends significantly higher temperatures for roast poultry. But, given proper resting, 150° F is perfectly safe and far more delicious. Salmonella dies within 10 seconds at 165° F and 10 minutes at 150° F.

C6. What about stuffing? Inside or outside the bird?

We strongly recommend cooking your stuffing separately from the bird, in a casserole dish. Not only does stuffing your bird slow down cooking, it also creates serious food safety issues. You can always use your drippings to add turkey flavor back to the stuffing.