Where to Buy Your Thanksgiving Bird
7 ways to put a turkey (or non-turkey) on the table in Austin
Flurries of new holiday recipes promise more flavor than previous years' near replicas, and that means decisions must be made – stick with the taste of nostalgia or experiment with change? Choosing a new green bean recipe is low-pressure compared to preparations for the highly anticipated centerpiece – the turkey.
Luckily, we live near some of the best barbecue joints in the world, and we have a turkey preparation technique called "leaving it to the pros." In addition to finding the usual uncooked turkeys to roast at home, you'll be able to order pre-brined, pre-cooked, and even pre-sliced meat and meat alternatives to pick up the day before Thanksgiving.
Per usual, groceries are selling a range of turkey breeds, sizes, and quality. In addition to Wheatsville, Whole Foods, Central Market, and H-E-B offering whole turkeys, turkey breasts, and in some stores, specialty birds like pheasant and goose, other local spots like Farmhouse Delivery fill their online stores with products from around the state, including turkeys from Martin Heritage Farm in Coupland, Texas. Local butcheries and meat grocers Salt & Time, Dai Due, and Micklethwait Craft Meats are also selling a limited number of high-quality, locally sourced turkeys ready to be cooked.
The most traditional way to cook a turkey is to roast it. Hoover's, Bill Miller Bar-B-Q, Lee's Meat Market, Fresa's, and Swedish Hill are all taking preorders for fully-cooked whole roasted turkeys or roasted boneless turkey breasts.
To illuminate the process and help those roasting at home, Heidi Diestel, a fourth-generation turkey farmer from Diestel Family Ranch, shared her turkey roasting tips: "When you have something truly differentiated in its quality and taste, you don't have to do a lot to make it exceptional. We encourage a standard roasting method – just put it in the oven, letting it roast low and slow for an extended period of time – that's how the Diestel family eats turkey every year. The recipe that comes on the back of the turkey is literally our turkey. It's really simple, three steps." Diestel turkeys are pasture-raised heirloom turkeys raised in California and sold nationwide through Whole Foods and the Diestel website (which offers overnight and two-day shipping).
In a town filled with meat smokers and pitmasters, it's not surprising that smoked turkey is on quite a few holiday menus. Hoover's, Rudy's, Whole Foods, and H-E-B are smoking whole birds and boneless turkey breasts to be chilled and ready to reheat at home. Smokey Mo's and Lee's Meat Market are also taking preorders for whole smoked turkeys. Franklin Barbecue, Stiles Switch, and Black's Barbecue are selling whole smoked turkey breasts which you can preorder to, theoretically, help you skip those lines. Fowler's Smokin' Soul Food will be smoking whole turkeys, breasts, and drumsticks.
Another popular alternative to roasting is frying, which aims for a juicy center and flavorful exterior. Central Market, Hoover's, and Lee's Meat Market are also selling fried turkeys. Lucy's Fried Chicken uses the same slightly spicy seasoning used on their fried chicken.
Turkeys stuffed with a whole deboned chicken and duck and layered with stuffing have become a standard appearance on Thanksgiving menus. Lucy's Fried Chicken and Lee's Meat Market are preparing fully cooked turduckens. Central Market is selling ready-to-cook turduckens, made with your choice of five different stuffings, like jalapeño cornbread or wild rice with pecans.
Plenty of other fully cooked meats can make your centerpiece just as festive as a turkey. Whole Foods is preparing salt-and-pepper prime rib roast and spiral-sliced ham with maple-bourbon glaze, while Central Market will be serving oak smoked rib eye, herb crusted beef tenderloin, and apricot ginger glazed ham. Lucy's Fried Chicken is taking orders on their traditional fried chicken and a specialty holiday ham. Lee's Meat Market has spiral-sliced ham, prime rib roast, and smoked pork tenderloin, among other cooked options. Fowler's Smokin' Soul Food offers smoked hams.
Restaurants are also preparing fully cooked vegetarian and vegan entrées (see "Austin's Vegan Options for Your Thanksgiving Feast."). Whole Foods features a vegetarian mushroom étouffée on their holiday menu, while Central Market is taking orders on their spinach & chard-stuffed portabella mushrooms. Counter Culture will be making a vegan seitan roast and a gluten-free version made with beans and veggies. Mr. Natural will have sliced vegan turkey made from seitan, along with grilled tofu. And, Capital City Bakery will be making a vegan pot pie filled with tofu, peas, carrots, and potatoes.