Tag: heritage turkey


Heritage Turkey Premiere: An Interview with Frank Reese

Heritage Turkey Premiere: An Interview with Frank Reese

 

“I have baby turkeys everywhere!”

It’s that time of year, summer in Kansas, and the heat is rising. “Turkeys have to be hatched before June to be ready for Thanksgiving,” says Frank Reese. “But these birds do real well in the heat – they aren’t morbidly obese, so they can handle it. And unlike on an industrial farm, they have trees and shade and get plenty of fresh water… commercial turkeys suffer a lot in the heat. Those birds have been genetically selected to grow as fast as possible.”

“A turkey is no better than the farmer behind it. And the genetics, of course,” says Frank, whose turkeys are one of the only flocks in America to receive certification by the American Poultry Association as purebreds, standards that were set in 1873.

“The biggest thing this year is that we’ve added three new farms to meet a bigger demand. We never seem to have enough — hopefully this year if everything goes well we’ll have twice as many turkeys as last year. But it’s still a drop in the bucket — our four farmers together are going to raise what one big commercial plant will do in a week

“What people don’t realize that when you send turkeys to get processed, they don’t all come out as birds in a bag — some birds are bruised and you can’t sell it as a whole Grade A bird. Truthfully we lose very few turkeys to cosmetic things — but to the big guys, they don’t care as much about their animals because they don’t make money off of whole turkeys, they make money off of deli meat. For an industrial producer, that’s where the money is. For them a whole turkey at Thanksgiving is like a giveaway. But when that turkey you usually sell for 99 cents a pound is instead smoked and put in an eight ounce package that now costs five dollars, you’re now selling that same bird for ten bucks a pound. And that’s why they only sell hens as whole birds — their toms they get up to 40 lbs in 14 weeks and sell as deli meat.”

An industrial turkey farm can get a 20 lb. hen in 12 weeks, or a 40 lb tom in 14 weeks. My hens, in 12 weeks only weigh 7 or 8 lbs – and we won’t process them till 24 or 28 weeks when their live weight is 15-16 lbs. My toms —  in 24 weeks weigh 24 lbs— a commercial factory turkey in that much time would weigh 44 lbs, and they don’t quit growing. They’ll get to 50 – 60 lbs and weigh too much for their legs to carry. I don’t lose any turkeys because of obesity because I haven’t selected them to be so fat that they cant live.

“The industry has made their money off of uniformity… there can be no variance, no difference. My turkeys don’t all come out the same – it is a totally different system.

“All the industrial turkeys have salt water added – they call it flavor enhancers – but sometimes its more than just salt. They figure most people don’t know how to cook a bird properly, and they figure it will keep the turkey from turning into dry leather. The truth is that because they raise these birds so fast and kill them so young, they don’t develop a layer of fat. My birds are harvested at a normal age and maturity, and having that maturity brings taste, flavor, texture. The industry has removed that — what people are used to now, the taste of turkey they think they love, is mostly just added salt.

Long-time Heritage customers know that we got our start selling Frank’s turkeys, and our relationship with him truly is the cornerstone of our business. Frank can count among his fans Alice Waters, who says “These birds are without a doubt the tastiest birds you can possibly serve,” and Mario Batali, who proudly claims “I’ve served these birds for my Thanksgiving every year for the past 12 years and always will.”

Frank is a true hero of the heritage food movement — he is the first and one of the only sustainable commercial farmers to receive certification by the American Poultry Association, and the USDA, for his birds as purebreds— and he has been featured in publications ranging from The New York Times to National Geographic. His story is the Rosetta Stone of sustainable farming, and the reason why when it comes to meat, the word “heritage” is synonymous with “heirloom.” Good Shepherd turkeys are the oldest line of turkey in America, 100 percent antibiotic free, and pasture raised on the Kansas prairie.

Frank Reese

The Frank Reese Story

At Heritage Foods USA, Frank Reese is a super hero. His farming practices should be a model for anyone who cares about taste and the survival and success of true heritage breeds. We started our business because we believed in Frank, and his heritage turkeys have really sustained us. It is nearly impossible to compete with his birds…

Freyja & Susan's Heritage Turkey

2015 Heritage Turkey Photo Contest

A huge “Thank You” to all participants for sharing your holiday feast with us!

We are thrilled to announce the winner of our 2015 Heritage Turkey Photo Contest!

Each family submitted photos of their Heritage Thanksgiving Turkey for a chance to win an 18-20lb Heritage Turkey for Thanksgiving 2016. Our inbox was flooded with your submissions, here are the best of the best:

2015 Turkey Photo Contest Winner:

Freyja & Susan

South Berwick, ME

Freyja & Susan's Heritage Turkey
Freyja & Susan’s Heritage Turkey

 

Honorable Mentions:

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To all of you who support the Heritage Turkey Project, you have truly made this project a success. Thank You!

It would not be possible without your support and enthusiasm over the years.

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!

Heritage Turkey Photo Contest!

Here are a few submissions we’ve gotten for our Heritage Turkey Photo Contest! The chefs behind these beautiful birds will be submitted into a drawing to win a FREE 18lbs Heritage Turkey next year.

Still holding on to a photo of your Heritage Turkey from this Thanksgiving? Send it to us by the end of December. A winner will be announced early next year.

Adam_Amsterdam Andre_Evens Andrea.HardyStanford Benjamin.Brown David.Boutt David.Kirk Denise. Jordan Dianne_Sinclair Jackie_Donovan Jason.Beard Laura.WarrenHill Lauren_Valacer Lucia.DeRespinis Michael_Byrne2 Muffy.Kelly Pam.Harris philippe.Shils1 philippe.Shils2  Sidney.Bostic Steph Sue_Recht

Frank Reese on Heritage Turkeys

HeritageTurkeys_Secondary

Our very own Frank Reese was profiled in Modern Midwest as a farmer who “wants to change the way you think about your Thanksgiving Meal Centerpiece.” 

WHAT IS A HERITAGE TURKEY?

  • Long life outdoors:  Heritage turkeys should be active and healthy: running, jumping, flying and exploring, all in the great outdoors. Farm factory raised birds are confined to buildings, and are too overweight to fly.
  • Naturally mating:  Forget artificial insemination. There better be no needles involved when it comes to making little baby heritage turkeys — also known as poults. Broad-breasted white turkeys have been genetically engineered to the point they can no longer naturally mate.
  • Slow growth rate: Factory farms can raise a 20-pound turkey in 12 weeks. It should take at least twice as long (28 weeks) for a heritage turkey, giving them time to develop a strong skeletal structure and healthy organs.
  • Meat: Expect a heritage bird’s meat to be darker thanks to all that running, jumping and exercising on the farm. The darker the meat, the more nutritional, said Reese. “If you’ve got muscle that’s been used, you have the ability to store vitamins. You don’t store vitamins in fat.”
  • Heritage varieties: Black, Bronze, Narragansett, White Holland, Slate, Bourbon Red, Beltsville Small White, Royal Palm, Jersey Buff and White Midget.

Talking Heritage Turkey with Frank Reese on Heritage Radio Network

Frank Reese
Frank Reese

Frank Reese live on Heritage Radio Network!

This week on No Chefs Allowed, Heritage turkey hero Frank Reese talks with hosts, Megan and Tricia as they begin planning for Thanksgiving. Frank, a fourth-generation turkey farmer, is the ambassador for the turkeys that used to feed America. Frank talks to No Chefs Allowed about today’s industrialized poulty practices, and encourages everyone to support the last remnants of the turkeys that used to don our tables at Thanksgiving. Megan and Tricia set off to get their own Heritage turkeys before they sell out! 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

The Heritage Turkey – Two Ways

Sunny Turkeys

Thanksgiving is the traditional time to enjoy turkey. But everyone wants the Thanksgiving meal to be cooked in the traditional way – so you get a roasted turkey with stuffing. Delicious, but there are a million other ways to prepare turkey. Really, anything you do with chicken, you can substitute turkey. The flavors will just be more robust and flavorful.

The best way to experiment with cooking turkey is to buy the whole bird. It is not only more economical, but it also gives you the ability to play around with flavors and enjoy the meat throughout several dishes – or meals.

Here, we have two tasty and very different turkey preparations using the whole bird. One of our own HFUSA staff created both recipes, so we can attest to the cheers that erupted at the table when they were presented!  One is a sweet and sour turkey dish over cold noodles (using the thighs, legs and wings) while the other is a spicy coconut turkey dish served over rice or with lettuce wraps (using the breasts).

Be sure to keep any extra turkey trimmings, the back and all the bones to make a lovely poultry stock. Homemade stock is my favorite thing to keep in the freezer. I use homemade stock for risottos or the base for numerous sauce and soups. You can also substitute stock for water when cooking rice, couscous or other grains for a richer flavor.

Enjoy our whole Heritage Turkey today and try these two very different, very delicious preparations.

Sweet & Sour Turkey

Ingredients:

Marinade

½ cup sugar

½ cup soy sauce

¼ cup rice vinegar

3 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)

1.5 tablespoons fish sauce

1 inch chuck of garlic (chopped into 3 pieces)

2-8 red chilies (depending on amount of heat you want!)

zest of 1 lime (peeled in strips, not grated)

 

Dressing

½ cup sugar

½ cup soy sauce

¼ cup rice vinegar

3 cloves of garlic (diced)

1.5 tablespoons fish sauce

1 inch chuck of garlic (diced)

2-8 red chilies (depending on type and amount of heat you want!)

zest and juice of 1 lime (grated and juiced)

fresh lemon juice to taste

handful of fresh mint

 

Thighs, legs, and wings of the Heritage Turkey

1 head of Napa Cabbage

Rice noodles

 

  • Preheat the oven to 350
  • Separate the thighs, legs and wings from the remainder of the Turkey (save breasts for other dish and remaining pieces for stock)
  • Season the pieces with salt and pepper
  • Sear turkey in cast iron pan, skin side down, until you get a nice browned color across the skin side
  • While the turkey is searing, prepare your marinade
  • In a bowl combine the marinade ingredients, taste and adjust as needed
  • Flip turkey pieces over so flesh side is against the pan
  • Add marinade mixture plus 1 cup water to the pan
  • Cover with tin foil and braise in the oven for 2 hours, until the meat falls off the bone
  • Check turkey every half hour, scoop marinade liquid over turkey pieces to maintain moistness
  • As the turkey cooks, the marinade should reduce to form your sauce but you may need to add water as you go so turkey is not cooking dry
  • While the turkey cooks, prepare your rice noodles according to package instructions and shred the Napa cabbage.
  • Also, make the dressing for your noodles. You should notice the dressing and marinade ingredients are very similar so the flavors will be complimentary.
  • Once done, take pan out of oven and allow turkey to rest for 10-15 minutes
  • Taste the pan sauce and adjust as needed. Use to glaze the turkey.
  • Dress cabbage and noodles with dressing mixture then garnish with the chiffonade of fresh mint

GSTR_TurkeyBreed2

Coconut Turkey

Ingredients:

Turkey breasts

2 cans coconut milk

zest of 1 lime (peeled in strips, not grated)

1 bay leaf

1 inch ginger (sliced thin)

3 onions

3 tablespoons curry powder

1-2 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon sugar

2-3 red chilies (depending on type and amount of heat you want!)

Optional: 1/3 cup coconut milk powder

Diced scallions and cilantro for garnish

  • Preheat the oven to 350
  • Separate breasts at the bone and put them on a rack in a roasting pan
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Pour can of coconut milk over the turkey
  • Add the peel of 1 lime, 1 bay leaf, the sliced ginger, 1 onion quartered
  • Cover in tin foil and cook in oven until tender and done, about 2 hours
  • While the turkey cooks, pull out a separate pan to sauté 2 whole diced onions
  • When clear and fragrant, remove onion from pan and keep in small bowl
  • In same pan, toast 3 table spoons of curry until fragrant
  • Add onions back to pan and diced ginger, 1-2 cloves diced garlic, chilies, 1 can of coconut milk and tablespoon sugar
  • Warm the sauce in pan to thicken
  • When turkey is done, rest for 20 minutes
  • Strain the cooking liquid from the turkey and add to sauce pan
  • If you want to thicken the sauce more, you can add another 1/3 cup coconut milk powder, but it is not essential
  • Pull turkey off the bone and slice on a bias. Add meat to the coconut mixture
  • Put in a serving dish and garnish with diced cilantro and scallions
  • Serve over rice along with lettuce wraps if desired
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