Category: Heritage Turkey


Let the Hatching Begin!

It is the time of year again when new life begins on the farm!
(click on the image below to start the video)

These are the breeders that will continue on the purebred heritage lineages at Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch in Lindsborg, Kansas.

Every November since our first year we have had the great honor of announcing the arrival of a new generation of Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch heritage turkeys. Farmer Frank Reese was the first farmer in the US allowed to claim “heritage” on his USDA certificate thanks to the American Poultry Association, a certification group that confirms standards traceable back to the 19th century.

Stay tuned for more updates and videos from the farm throughout the year!

The Perfect Roast for You and Yours

This Holiday Season, Go Big with a Classic Heritage Centerpiece!porchetta

The biggest occasions deserve the best meats in America. Like all of our meats, our centerpieces are raised humanely, on pasture without antibiotics or hormones, and produce the best natural flavor and texture you have ever experienced. These are not your grandma’s pot roast — our beef ribeye, rack of lamb, tenderloin, porchetta, and cured hams are the best of their kind, easy to cook, and sensational to serve for family dinner or the most elegant holidays. And did we mention the leftovers?

Know Your Roasts!

Some meats just seem more festive than others, but you can always count on pleasing the crowd with a Heritage roast or centerpiece. We find beef tenderloin, aka filet mignon, to be perfect for elegant dinner parties. Pork tenderloin, too, is an exquisite focal point for any occasion. Our custom made, hand-rolled porchetta, is a rare treat — crispy and rich and an impressive showstopper for even the meat connoisseur. Leg of lamb, and the celebrated rack of lamb, are perhaps the most festive centerpieces of them all, fit for a royal banquet! Of course cured hams and whole chickens never fail to please, whether it’s a holiday, Sunday dinner, or just a weeknight treat. The best part is that they are all easy to prepare — and spectacular to present!

Prepare Simply for Spectacular Results

A ten pound leg of lamb may seem like a challenge next to a 14 oz. pork chop, but we are here to tell you, don’t worry! Here is the best advice from the Heritage Team and our network of chefs:

There is no wrong way to cook great meat, but we recommend keeping it simple. Just use salt and pepper and your favorite herbs as primary seasoning. We love beef with just salt and pepper, but lamb also loves rosemary and thyme. Pork, too, loves a creative touch, but remember: this is the very best heritage meat in the world, and the flavor is already there, a product of the best breeds, farmed traditionally. There is nothing to hide, the taste says it all.

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Heritage Turkeys : From Farm to Ark to Table

In every family, there is a pride of history and lineage. This is no different for poultry or livestock. Heritage turkeys are the progeny of poultry that was bred for flavor.

Norman Kardosh, Frank Reese’s mentor, spent his life teaching Frank how to raise heritage turkeys responsibly. He knew he was leaving his legacy to Frank, and he stressed the importance of pure genetics. Norman said, “If you mess them up it will take fifteen years to straighten out… if it’s even possible.”

The Standard Bronze is the perfect heritage turkey — flavorful, healthy, and robust — and represents not just a line of genetics, but the farmer’s love and care in breeding the best heritage turkeys in the world.

By the early 1970s, factory farming would take over, and turkeys were most commonly bred for traits that would genetically deform them and destroy their flavor, namely how fast and how big they could grow. Within twenty years, turkeys shot up with chemicals to keep them alive and so top heavy they could not walk were the norm. In fact, they were growing so fast that turkeys became so inexpensive as to nearly bankrupt the industry.

The American Poultry Association is America’s oldest agricultural association and the keeper of the standards for poultry breed identification. Frank is the first farmer to receive accreditation by the APA certifying his heritage turkeys as purebred to the standards set in 1873.

Patrick Martins, Founder of Heritage Foods USA explains, “In 2001, when I was running Slow Food USA, I put the Standard Bronze turkey on the Slow Food “Ark of Taste” — a metaphoric vessel designed to highlight agriculture on the verge of extinction — and suddenly I found myself in the turkey business, launching Heritage Foods USA to help Frank expand and successfully deliver his flock of heritage turkeys, now numbering around 10,000 birds per year.

Frank’s birds are not only a model of responsible farming but also delicious. They bring a character of flavor and juiciness that could never be found in anything produced by Big Agriculture. They do cost more, but the price reflects the true cost of raising a free-range bird that has not been genetically redesigned to flatter the bottom line rather than the taste buds.

Modern, industrially raised adult turkey’s breasts are so unnaturally large that they cannot reproduce without assistance, and need to be artificially inseminated, which is why cheap turkey meat is available in the supermarket all year long. Frank’s turkeys mate naturally and are only ready to be harvested for Thanksgiving.

Frank Reese’s heritage turkeys are now available for pre-order for Thanksgiving directly from Heritage Foods USA, including the Standard Bronze as well as Bourbon Red, White Holland, Black Narragansett, Royal Palm, Jersey Buff, and Slate breeds.

2016 Heritage Turkeys
Delivered fresh November 22nd with neck and giblets
8-10lb turkey … $99
10-12lb turkey … $119
12-14lb turkey … $139
14-16lb turkey … $159
16-18lb turkey … $179
18-20lb turkey … $199

2015 Heritage Turkey Flock

Every morning it’s the same routine for poultry farmer Frank Reese. Frank walks several thousand turkeys from their barn out to pasture, where they spend the day foraging in the rolling Kansas plains. In the evening he opens the large barn doors, cuing the flock to head indoors where they can roost safely for the night.

Exercise and access to natural forage help to keep heritage turkeys strong and healthy. It also enables the birds to develop fat, nutritional content, and flavor. Not too long ago this was how all turkeys were raised, but Frank has gone to great lengths to preserve traditional standards of raising turkeys. Each year, as his flock is developing, he closely watches the birds mature. At the end of the season Frank will select the individuals with the most desirable traits to parent the next generation.

This yearly cycle drives the sustainability of Frank’s operation. All of his turkeys mate naturally, have a long and productive lifespan, and develop at a healthy rate – simple traits that really allow his flock to stand out from commodity production.

Follow our blog for more 2015 heritage turkey updates!

 

 

 

Heritage Turkey Photos from Judy

We LOVE when our friends share their culinary adventures with us. Here are some great photos of an innovative way to cook-up the traditional American Thanksgiving centerpiece.

Dr. Judith Mazza is a long time supporter and wonderful photographer. She is President of the DC Chapter of La Chaîne des Rotisseurs, the world’s oldest and largest international food and wine society. 

Send us your photos, recipes, and stories and we’ll feature them here at our Community Table, the place where we gather to share our thoughts and ideas and everything we learn from you!

Thanks Judy for these wonderful Heritage Turkey photos!

 

Mazza Heritage Turkey (1 of 11) Mazza Heritage Turkey (4 of 11)Mazza Heritage Turkey (10 of 11)

YUM!

6 Common Thanksgiving Turkey Mistakes

Thanksgiving Turkey Mistakes
Thanksgiving! There’s no other meal so rewarding yet so anxiety ridden then this once yearly feast. Your heritage turkey is going to be the star of Thanksgiving dinner. Protect your investment and your reputation this year by avoiding these 6 Common Thanksgiving Turkey mistakes!

1. Give It A Rest
Sometimes the best ingredient is time itself. No matter what recipe you follow, plan to rest your heritage turkey at least twice during your cooking process— once at the beginning, and once at the end. Before you begin cooking let your turkey rest outside of the fridge for at least 40 minutes.

Allowing your bird to come to room temperature first will decrease the time it spends in the oven. This will help improve texture and prevent the white meat from drying out.

The second rest should come after you take your turkey out of the oven. Put down the knife! If you want your turkey to taste as good as it looks it needs to rest. Plan to give a full 30 minutes before carving.

2. Skip The Stuffing, But Don’t Forget To Stuff
Long gone are the days of warm, doughy stuffing overflowing from the cavities, nooks and crannies of holiday turkeys. Thanks to science, concerned mothers, and a better understanding of food borne illness it is now accepted that cooking stuffing inside of the actually turkey is a big no-no.

Play it safe and prepare your stuffing in a separate baking dish, but don’t ignore that cavity! Think of it as your flavor cave. The perfect basket to hold all of your favorite aromatics- herbs, citrus, onions, fennel, and don’t forget lots of salt and pepper!

Fill it up but keep it loose. Over stuffing can cause your heritage turkey to cook unevenly.

3. To Brine or Not To Brine
Brining has gained considerable momentum over the last few years. Many cooks have come to love this technique, which adds an additional buffer against dry white meat. When you use a traditional liquid brine both the salt and the liquid permeate the meat. The salt acts to help relax the proteins, aiding in tenderness, and a small percentage of the water is retained, increase the overall weight just slightly and helping preserve juiciness while roasting.

This works great for your average grocery store bird who’s a lack of natural fat can cause it to dry out quickly in the oven, but when you use a brine, even a delicious recipe full of herbs and spices, it does little to impart actual flavor. We will spare you the boring science of molecule size and cell wall semi-permeability and just say that no matter what you add to your brine the internal meat of the turkey will only retain the water in the solution. Adding water will help against drying out, but that water will also act to dilute the turkey flavor.

With a commercial bird this isn’t such a loss. Your average grocery store turkey isn’t known for its deep, rich turkey flavor, but heritage breed turkeys are unique. They are very distinct in their flavor and you run the risk of losing that richness.

There is a middle ground in the battle over the brine and that is the dry brine. This technique involves generously salt your turkey inside and out and allowing it to rest uncover in your refrigerator for 24-48 hour. Rinse the salt off before starting your final pre-over preparations and proceed as you normally would. The salt is still able to work its magic and help add tenderness to the turkey without adding the wateriness of a liquid brine. Trust us, the generous fat found in heritage turkeys (as much as 10 times that of their commercial counterparts) will be all you need to keep your turkey juicy and delicious this year.

4. Low and Slow Baby!
When compared to their commercial counterparts, our heritage turkeys enjoy a long leisurely lifestyle roaming and forging on the open prairie. Unlike your average grocery store turkey, whose fast growth rates out paces their bodies ability to develop and store fat, heritage turkeys are known for packing on the pounds!

They can develop as much as 10 times the amount of fat when comparing the white meat from both. This means a turkey that is juicier and more flavorful, but that fat needs time to render.

Cooking at a low and steady 325 will ensure your bird has enough time in the oven to render out that fat and break down connective tissue while still keeping it safe from drying out.

5. Live By The Thermometer
The only way to know if your heritage turkey is done is to take its temperature. We recommend pulling your turkey out of the oven when the thigh meat reads 165. The internal temperature of your heritage turkey will continue to rise even after you pull it from the oven.

If you are really a heritage turkey perfectionist you may opt to divide your turkey into pieces before cooking. This is best done separating the leg and thigh quarters from the breast. Because white meat and dark meat cook at different rates, this is the only way to ensure perfectly cooked and tender dark meat without over cooking the white meat.

Many chefs also swear by starting their turkeys breast side down and roasting them in that position for the first hour or so. This can help protect the white meat while the dark meat gets a head start on cooking, but be warned— if you’re planning to roast a big ol’ turkey this year, it ain’t easy flippin’ a big, hot, greased up bird without the help of a small crane.

6. You Carve What You Eat
Finally. You’ve navigated your way through the many perils of preparing the perfect Thanksgiving meal. Time to carve! While every movie ever made featuring a turkey dinner shows the turkey being carved and served right from the table like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting, no one actually does this and ends up with a good result. This is a step that is best left in the kitchen.

After presenting your beautiful heritage turkey, remove both halves of the breast from the turkey in complete sections and slice. Carve and pull the remaining dark meat from the legs and thighs. Be carful not to slice more turkey then you plan to use immediately. The best way to store turkey and all meat for future meals is un-carved.

Still have a heritage turkey question!? Leave your question in the comments and please share your favorite Holiday tips with us!

Have a Healthy and Happy Thanksgiving!

A Closer Look: The Heritage Turkey Project

Heritage Foods USA is proud to process over 10,000 heritage breed pigs a year, hundreds of lamb and goat, and even a few whole head of beef — all nose to tail, ensuring that every part of the animal is used. Through sales and commerce we are ensuring the preservation of rare breeds, farmland and independent farmers.  But year after year it is the Heritage Turkey Project that remains our most important intervention into the American food supply. For one, Frank Reese and his turkeys truly are one of a kind — no one breeds poultry better than Frank who stays true to 19th century Poultry Standards of Perfection. His rare Standard Bronze, Bourbon Red, White Holland, Black, Narragansett and Slate are renowned for their taste and are slowly becoming a larger part of the national food supply on Thanksgiving. We believe that we should eat less meat but that the meat we eat should be the best — no product better communicates embodies that idea than our Heritage Turkeys. Frank’s birds are pasture raised on the Kansas prairie and are never fed antibiotics. Intense, dark and rich with a steakish, balanced flavor and distinctive finish, heritage turkeys are unlike regular turkey in every way.

 

 

Meet Frank Reese, the most respected American poultry breeder alive today.

Photo: Jim Richardson
Photo: Jim Richardson

Frank Reese of Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch is considered the godfather of American poultry. He is a fourth generation poultry farmer from Lindsborg, Kansas. For nearly all his life, Frank has maintained a keen interest in American heritage turkeys. The New York Times’ Kim Severson writes of Frank: “Only someone with a trained eye can pick the best toms and hens to breed, and Mr. Reese is considered the best of the few people in the country who can do it.” He is also the only one with a flock whose genetic line can be traced back to the late 1800s. Frank Reese’s heritage turkeys are universally proclaimed the most delicious in America thanks to his expertise breeding the Standard Bronze, Bourbon Red, White Holland,Black, Narragansett and Slate. Frank’s birds are pasture raised on the Kansas prairie and are never fed antibiotics. Intense, dark and rich with a steakish, balanced flavor and distinctive finish, heritage turkeys are unlike regular turkey in every way.

American Originals: The Rich History of American Bison and Turkeys

American-originals

10 Million years ago : Turkeys appear in North American geologic record. They are the only domesticated animal from North America.

500,000 years ago : Bison crossed the land bridge from Eurasia to North America

1428 : Turkeys were kept by the Aztecs and they were used the feathers to make capes and cloaks– specific color patterns were praised

1873 : APA association established the 5 purebred standard turkeys: Narragansett, Standard Bronze, White Holland, Black, & Slate.

1901 : Due to over hunting Bison numbers declined to 541

1917 : Frank’s genetic line of turkeys arrived in Kansas

1947 : Frank Reese began raising turkeys in Kansas

1997   Ted Turner founded the Turner Endangered Species Fund dedicated to preserving bison and other animals

Some more about the Great American Bison…

BisonBison meat is the true native North American meat. Sixty million bison once roamed the great planes of this land and sustained Native Americans. When the Transcontinental Railroad was built across the country in the 1800s, the bison were split into Northern and Southern herds. The Southern herd included animals from Texas, eastern New Mexico, eastern Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and southern Nebraska. But by the dawn of the 20th century, the total bison population had dwindled to less than 1,000. Thanks to conservation efforts, bison are slowly recovering. The Southern Plains herd that exists today was started in the 1880s by Charles Goodnight, a wealthy American cattlemen. His wife urged him to save five calves at a time when hunters were killing bison by the hundreds of thousands.

Grass-fed Bison is naturally leaner than other meats but the fat it does have is mono-unsaturated making it much healthier while not sacrificing any of the flavor. The leanness of the meat requires low and slow cooking.

 Some more about Heritage Turkeys…

HeritageFoodsUSA_FrankReeseFrank Reese has the “oldest continuous breeding and producing flock of Standard breed (heritage) turkeys in America.”  The same old heritage turkey line has been in Kansas since 1917, unchanged for 97 years. For 50 years Norman Kardosh held the title of raising the oldest flock of Standard bred turkeys. He inherited his flock from his Mother and uncles. His mother got her line of Bronze turkeys as a wedding gift in 1917 and Norman considered that the start of his line of Bronze turkeys. When Norman Kardosh was dying he asked Frank to take his flock and to continue the tradition of caring for his historic line of Standard turkeys. Hopefully in 3 years we can celebrate 100 years of breeding these wonderful and productive heritage turkeys in Kansas and across America.  This is part of saving bio-diversity and TRUE sustainability.

CLICK HERE TO SHOP OUR HERITAGE TURKEYS & BISON

Heritage Turkey Photos

We just announced the winners of our 2013 Heritage Turkey Photo contest!

Congrats to Phillipe in Illinois, Benjamin in Pennsylvania, and Jennifer in New York!

Click to see the winning photos and hear from the winners!

2013 Thanksgiving Heritage Turkey Contest
2013 Thanksgiving Heritage Turkey Contest

We also got an email from a customer last year sharing an image of her 2012 bird that we had to share for its pure artistry.

Behold Judith Mazza’s incredible bird!

Heritage_Turkey2 Heritage_Turkey1

Here’s how she did it:

“I stretched the skin of the neck over the roaster to make the equivalent of turkey cracklings (like Peking Duck Skin).  It was totally delicious.   I roasted it in my Kamado Grill on a vertical turkey roaster.  I’ve been developing some expertise in doing food photography and I particularly enjoy the turkey photo.”

Thank you to everyone who sent photos!

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