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Thanksgiving Menu

November 13, 2012

As Thanksgiving is nearing, my table is beginning to fill. A discussion a month or so ago with one of the farmers over their own turkeys lead to an invitation to join us. Friends from New Jersey plan to drive the 8 hours to spend the weekend. Several of Graham’s students who are not going “home home” for the week will complete the circle of chairs. That’s right now…..we’ve been known to add more chairs. It’s never a question of enough food, just enough elbow space and enough chairs.

My favorite holiday, Thanksgiving provides the time to actually take a few moments to thoughtfully consider the good things. Even if you are not religious, the concept of blessings can be appreciated. We are so quick to notice what went wrong, what is still needed. On this day we typically have a discussion at our table about the things that went right, the unexpected gifts. Sometimes a guest is caught unaware of our tradition and we circle back to them, giving them time to collect their thoughts.

And the feast. It was only when I had moved from New Jersey to Nashville in 1975 that I became aware of the nuances of the American Thanksgiving dinner menu. Essentially, it is the one day of the year that almost all of us eat the same thing.  There are regional differences (dressing versus stuffing) and family favorites (growing up we had a jello concoction with cranberries and nuts) but ask around and you will see that most have turkey on the menu.

In 2006, American turkey growers raised 270 million turkeys. These became five billion pounds of turkey meat valued at almost $8 billion.

Currently, eight breeds of domestic turkeys are recognized by the American Poultry Association, but many more exist as officially unrecognized variants or as recognized breeds in other countries.

  • Auburn or Light Brown is an extremely rare heritage breed its numbers are not considered high enough for inclusion in the Standard. An extremely rare variant of the Auburn is called the Silver Auburn.
  • Beltsville Small White Turkey is a hybrid created by the USDA at Beltsville, MD. Once very popular, it is now a rare heritage breed.
  • Black Spanish Turkey (Black Norfolk Turkey) is a heritage breed.

    Black Spanish

  • Blue Slate Turkey or Lavender is a heritage breed.

    Blue Slate or Lavender


  • Bourbon Red is a heritage breed.

    Bourbon Re

  • Bronze Turkey, the heritage strain of the Bronze, is recognized, while the Broad Breasted Bronze, like the Broad Breasted White, is an unrecognized commercial meat strain.
  • Broad Breasted White is a nonstandardized commercial strain that does not qualify as a breed; it is only used for commercial meat production.
  • Broad Breasted White

    • Broad Breasted Bronze is a nonstandardized commercial strain that does not qualify as a breed; it also is only used for commercial meat production.
  • Buff (or Jersey Buff) is a very rare heritage breed.


  • Chocolate breed is chocolate brown in color. Day-old poults are white-faced with chocolate bodies.
  • Czech Wild White-braided Turkey (Česká krůta divoká bíle lemovaná)
  • Dindon rouge des Ardennes is a French breed, supposedly brought to Flanders in the 16th century from Mexico by the Spanish.
  • Midget White is a rare heritage breed sometimes conflated with the Beltsville Small White.

    Midget White

  • Narragansett Turkey is a heritage breed.

    Narragansett Tom

  • Royal Palm Turkey is a largely ornamental, mostly white heritage breed.

    Royal Palm

  • White Holland Turkey
  • Zagorje (Zagorski puran) is a Croatian variant of turkey.

There are several different kinds of wild turkey that also can be enjoyed.

 Just remember to say Thank You!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Nancy Griffith permalink
    November 13, 2012 12:30 pm

    enjoyed the info and thanks for including Wild Turkey. Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2012 10:59:59 +0000 To:

    • November 13, 2012 1:17 pm

      Thanks Nancy…..I thought it was a fun thing to include LOL

  2. November 13, 2012 1:15 pm

    Wonderful, as always!! I look forward to finding your blog in my email each morning!! 🙂 Thank you!

    • November 13, 2012 1:16 pm

      Thanks, Beth Ann! It’s always nice to know SOMEone reads it LOL

  3. Laura permalink
    November 13, 2012 4:34 pm

    Make room for me!!!! Really wish I could join your feast!
    by the way, does the Chocolate Turkey have more dark meat???…..must be wishful thinking on my part!
    Wonderful blog!

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