Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Heritage Turkey

Welcome! The door to the yellow house is open.

I must admit that while I have been inordinately busy lately, I have truly missed my yellow house blog and am glad to be back to it. I must also admit that I think the break was a good chance to refresh. I am inspired and have lots of ideas rattling around. Interesting things brewing in the kitchen. New cooking classes on the books. Creative Christmas projects calling for attention. Unfortunately, before the glitter hits the fan, we need to get through Thanksgiving.

I have taught more than my fair share of Thanksgiving classes this year and prepared many tables worth of Thanksgiving dishes. Usually, by the time our own dinner rolls around, I am content to begin pulling out the Christmas decorations while Doug focuses on his favorite meal of the year.

So when given the oppotunity to try something new, I jumped at the chance. This adventure started with a trip to the farm. I met the rest of the family I have come to know at the green market from whom I buy my eggs. Seeing their farmhouse which has been in their family since 1893 was a thrill. This family now raises turkeys, ducks, chicken and sheep. In addition, they offer select vegetables and black walnuts from their property. I have the utmost respect for the way they have chosen to continue in the tradition of their ancestors.

This rather ugly looking bird is a Black Spanish Turkey. A heritage breed, being saved by some wonderful farmers. These breeds fell out of favor, when the appeal of white breast meat made growers gravitate towards Broad Breasted Whites, which now amount to 99% of the birds raised in this country. Heritage breeds are, however, making a comeback. Those concerned with biodiversity and appreciative of the greater depth of flavor of these breeds are happy to spend extra, a lot extra, to help save this turkey.

I had the opportunity to roast one of these birds for a GGM Community Winter Market yesterday. I was a bit nervous, having never roasted a bird like this. They are not injected with saline and tend to be leaner so they cook faster. To ensure a moist bird, I brined it and then used a compound butter under the skin. Roasted on a rack with 4 cups of stock in the pan, tented with oiled parchment, I roasted it at 375 and was shocked when this 14 pounder was done in about 2 hours.

Here he/she is in all his/her glory. It turned out beautifully and was as tasty as I was promised. I am proud that this tastefully roasted bird generated sales for the family that raised it.

It's not often in today's world that we get to see something through, start to finish. More often than not, we each play a part, a small role in the creation of a product or a project. Having the opporunity to see where this animal came from, then prepare it, serve it and encourage more sales for the grower is a wonderful thing.

I am so proud and very thankful for my small part.

For more information on heritage turkeys check out or

1 comment:

Georgine said...

Did you "meet" this bird before it became lunch? I couldn't do that. Is it really ugly? It doesn't look any uglier than any other poor skinned bird I have ever seen. Can you tell Mike cooks the poultry around here?

How was the market his weekend? I just can't get into the grove of going. It was a late friday night for us, so we sat around and chilled Saturday morning.

Glad you are back posting. How is the camera?