Safeway Frozen Young Turkeyold bitd

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Purchased an 18.5 pound "Young" turkey with Safeway label. It came frozen solid in an opaque white wrapper and retailed for about 65 cents a pound with card. Prepped and cooked the bird as I usually do. One and a half hours early, it was already at least 180 degrees everywhere, My oven is accurate and I cooked it at 325 degrees covered in foil and with a roasting pan lid on it. It was sitting in fluid approximately one third up the height of the bird despite the fact that I added only a half can of chicken broth at the beginning. There was no more meat than on a 12 pound bird and that meat splintered into toothpick sized shards and was dry as wood. The legs and thighs were smaller (less meat) than the ones on my 14 pounder last year. When the "drippings" were refrigerated, it turned out it was about 25% fat. The meat was almost entirely dry woody and inedible.

This was an OLD turkey, probably 2, maybe 3 yrs old which had lost much of its muscle mass and had a lot of fat (despite the fact that I discarded the visceral fat before cooking it). This is interesting because in 30 yrs of cooking turkeys, old birds like this had up to now disappeared from the scene. We had one like this at home back 40+ yrs ago. My dad who grew up on a farm that raised poultry explained it to me. You simply cannot satisfactorily bake a stewing bird - no matter what you do.

So beware! If you shop for a large turkey you can wind up with an old piece of dog food like this one if you aren't careful. Mislabeled birds like this one used to be common...and may be starting to make an encore appearance at a store near you. Personally, I'm going back to name brand and staying under 14 lbs.

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