Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, November & December 2000 issue

Cook's Illustrated magazine staff members and Boston-area culinary students recently conducted a blind tasting of nine brands of turkeys. The panel of 21 tasters rated each sample for flavor, texture, tenderness, and overall likability, taking into account both white and dark meat. Listed below are the top three choices. Prices noted are from 1999.

Marval: frozen, basted, 79 cents per pound

"Best of the tasting." This turkey was full-flavored yet tasted "very clean, like spring water." Succulent, tender but not oily, flavorful, and distinct. It out scored all the other turkeys for tenderness by a good margin. A couple of tasters thought it tasted a bit salty. Turkey was basted with approximately six percent solution of turkey broth, salt, sodium phosphate, sugar, and flavoring.

Empire Kosher: fresh, kosher, $1.69 per pound

Another winner, this turkey was "very tender and juicy, with flavor immediately clean on the palate." The "white meat in particular held its true flavor and tenderness." "Clean, sturdy, and full-bodied." Turkey was all natural, no preservatives, no artificial ingredients, minimally processes soaked, salted, and rinsed.

Shady Brook Farms: fresh, $1.29 per pound

This standard fresh supermarket turkey was "a good bird but not something to write home about." It was somewhat moist more moist than many but could have been more so. The flavor was "good" and texture "quite nice," a perfectly okay bird. One taster noted that with brining this turkey could be great.