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Keith Mowry has been cutting meat for about 40 years, and there’s one thing, according to him, that you shouldn’t eat on Thanksgiving.

Frozen turkey.

“You want something fresh, that’s for sure,” he said.

Mowry has been the owner of Bob’s Country Meats in Canyon Country for 27 years, after he purchased the butcher shop from its namesake.

The holidays are a busy time for Mowry, who estimates he moves about 350 turkeys at this time of year.

The fresher the turkey, Mowry said, the better the taste and the juicier the bird. During the process of thawing a frozen turkey, much of its juices — and flavor — are lost.

Keith Mowry, the owner of Bob’s Country Meats, stands at the meat counter at the shop in Canyon Country. (Katharine Lotze / The Signal)
Keith Mowry, the owner of Bob’s Country Meats, stands at the meat counter at the shop in Canyon Country. (Katharine Lotze / The Signal)

Mowry’s shop offers both regular and free range fresh turkeys for the holidays, and he shared a few tips for holiday cooks.

How big should your turkey be? Mowry says a good rule of thumb is about one pound per person, up to 1.5 pounds per person if you want leftovers.

Each pound needs about 20 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit to cook thoroughly. Cover the bird with tinfoil for the first hour of cooking, then remove for the remainder for perfectly browned and crispy skin. Make sure to factor stuffing into cooking time — it can add 30 minutes or more to cook time.

But before you start cooking a 30-pound piece of poultry, make sure it fits in your oven! Mowry said he’s had a few customers run afoul when their Thanksgiving centerpiece didn’t fit in the oven.

“Not every oven can hold a 30 pound turkey,” he said.

And not everyone wants to cook their turkey in an oven; some opt for rotisserie, barbecuing, deep frying, or brining. But Mowry said it’s the freshness of the main ingredient that makes all the difference.

“Any way that you do it, they come out great because they’re fresh,” he said.

Fresh turkeys typically arrive to Bob’s Country Meats the Friday before Thanksgiving, and many people pick up their birds on Monday or Tuesday, depending on their schedules — and how much room they have in their fridge.

Though it is traditional, turkey isn’t the only main course you can serve up at your feast, especially if you’re not looking to cook.

Mowry’s shop also offers hams ready to heat and eat, and they’re a dish popular with his own family.

“If I don’t have one of those at Thanksgiving, my daughter in law is really mad at me,” he said.

Not a fan of foul, or ham? A holiday prime rib is also a popular idea.

Visit bobscountrymeats.com for more information about reserving your bird.

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Katharine Lotze
Katharine Lotze is a photojournalist and columnist at the Signal, and can be found photographing daily life in Santa Clarita, or writing personal essays about her own daily life.
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