Turkey Talk

Each year we make our annual turkey trot up to Westchester to pick up our heritage birds in an attempt to meet the farmer “halfway” since his farm is located near the Adirondack Mountains. Each year we make the schlep because John Boys Farm is one of the few to raise that particular breed, the White Holland, which was nearly extinct at the beginning of the 20th century. Also it is hands down the best turkey we have ever tasted. That has not only to do with the breed but with the pasture-raised and foraged diet of the birds on John Boy’s extensive 185-acre property.

I have brought one of these turkeys the past three years to my own holiday gathering, and the intense flavor along with the succulent moisture of the meat is always a show stopper, and has even converted a few turkey haters into turkey lovers. I always do a dry brine and a roasting method which works splendidly for the home cook. However, here in the PRINT. kitchen we take the extra steps to confit the legs separately so they are nearly falling-off-the-bone tender and do a traditional roast on the breast giving the best of both worlds in flavor and cooking technique.

Mmmm, on that note have a great holiday:  Bon Appetite, Buen Provecho and Enjoy!

A Beltsville Small White turkey from the Good Shepherd Turkey Ranch near Lindsborg, Kansas. Photo by Craig Hacker

 

Here are some fun facts about turkeys from the Smithsonian website that give all the more reason to admire this iconic North American bird.

Turkeys are more than just big chickens – more than 45 million years of evolution separates the two species.

The wild turkey was hunted nearly to extinction by the early 1900s, when the population reached a low of around 30,000 birds. But restoration programs across North America have brought the numbers up to seven million today.

Male turkeys are called “gobblers,” after the “gobble” call they make to announce themselves to females (which are called “hens”) and compete with other males. Other turkey sounds include “purrs,” “yelps” and “kee-kees.”

Turkeys can run at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour and fly as fast as 55 miles per hour.

Baby turkeys, called poults, eat berries, seeds and insects, while adults have a more varied diet that can include acorns and even small reptiles.

Benjamin Franklin never proposed the turkey as a symbol for America, but he did once praise it as being “a much more respectable bird” than the bald eagle.
Read more about the White Holland Breed:  http://www.livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/whiteholland