IN THE REGION — Thanksgiving falls late this year, but turkey sales start early, and shops across southeast Connecticut are offering a variety of choices and price points for home cooks preparing for November 28.
Walt’s Food Market in Old Saybrook is preparing for the holiday by making over 800 pounds of gravy, starting a full two weeks before Thanksgiving.
“It’s nothing, but turkey, we don’t do any of that fake canned turkey gravy,” said Walt’s meat manager Dave Crosby. “We make our own stock from scratch, boil it down and make it that way all from turkey necks and wings, which we started boiling over a week ago.”
Walt’s sources their turkeys from Bell and Evans farms based in Pennsylvania and from Waybest Foods, a company based in South Windsor with farms in upstate New York. The meat market will sell birds ranging in price from about $2 to about $4 per pound, Crosby said.
Walt’s usually asks that customers place orders within a few days before Thanksgiving, Crosby said, “but we try not to turn anybody away as long as supplies last. If we still have it available we’ll sell to the last day because our customers are important to us.”
Walt’s also offers hams and other main courses for Thanksgiving as well as side dishes including mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, butternut squash, pies, butternut squash, creamed onions, apple sauce, homemade whole berry cranberry sauce, and kielbasa made and smoked in-store.
Crosby said they also make a few hundred pounds of four different kinds of stuffing, including country sage sausage stuffing, cornbread stuffing.
“It’s amazing how much goes into Thanksgiving,” Crosby said.
Walt’s is located at 178 Main Street in Old Saybrook.
Scott’s Meats & Deli in East Lyme sells turkeys sourced locally from Gozzi Farms in Guilford.
Gozzi turkeys sell for $4.29 per pound. Staff at Scott’s ask that customers place orders a week in advance — Tuesday, November 19 — to be sure to have turkeys in time for pickup on the Tuesday or Wednesday before the holiday.
Employee Jared DiBattista advised home chefs to be sure to give the turkey plenty of time to cook — cooking on high heat or for too short a time period will dry it out.
“Even if you’re getting under crunch time it’s better to push back the meal and have an appetizer while you wait,” he said. “Slow and low cooking is always the best way to get a moist turkey.”
Scott’s also sells a butternut squash puree ($4.99 per pound), sausage and sage stuffing ($6.99 per pound), cranberry and cornbread stuffing ($5.99 per pound), French onion mashed potatoes ($4.99 per pound), and more.
Scott’s is located at 299 Flanders Road in East Lyme.
Grass and Bone butcher shop and restaurant in Mystic sells turkeys raised by Ekonk Family Farm in Moosup and organic turkeys from Wild Harmony Farm in Exeter, Rhode Island.
The Ekonk turkeys are $5.99 per pound, and range in size from about 14 to 30 pounds. The organic turkeys from Wild Harmony are $8.99 per pound, and they’re a little smaller, ranging from about 10 to 17 pounds.
Ordering a turkey requires a $50 deposit, which is then counted toward the total cost of the turkey at pickup.
Staff at Grass and Bone said they don’t currently have a deadline for ordering turkeys, but the pickup date would be on Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving — that’s November 26 and 27.
Other dishes on the for sale include gravy, sourdough bread stuffing, turducken stuffing, chicken and duck sourdough sausage stuffing, roasted potatoes, corn bread, homemade cranberry sauce, and apple crisp.
Grass and Bone is located at 24 East Main Street in Mystic in Stonington.
Cliff’s Quality Meats in Essex sells turkeys sourced from Pennsylvania along with their own store-made sausage stuffing and gravy.
Meat cutter Frank Serio said that customers should order soon to be able to guarantee they can get the size of turkey that they’re wanting, with sizes ranging from about 10 to 30 pounds.
Cliff’s, located at 88 Plains Road in Essex, also offers cooking instructions with every turkey that they sell.
A few other small farms around the region sell turkeys, but they tend to have a smaller supply. Pauline Lord, owner of White Gate Farm in East Lyme, and Arthur Hiles of Red Fence Farm in Groton said that they’re already nearly sold out of their turkeys to regular customers.
“Every year when they pick up for this year, they order their turkeys for next,” Hiles aid. “So any one year I’ll already have half the turkeys for next year sold.”