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Turkey Talk [moved form Califonia board]

Thanksgiving is coming, and I have a question for the Chowhounds. What are the best turkeys in Northern California? I have seen both Diestel and Branigan turkeys before, but have yet to taste them. Are they worth the extra bucks, or should I just grab a Foster Farms and a bucket of brine? There is also an Heirloom Turkey from Diestel; has anyone tried that one in the past? Thanks.

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  1. What about Willy Birds? We order those. A foster farms brined turkey sounds damn good too though! I've never tried the Dietsel or Branigan. Is that wrong?:)

    Melly www.sacramentofoodgroup.org

    1. I did the Heirloom bird one year. Ordered it from Bristol Farms. It was the size of a game hen. The folks at Bristol apologized and gave us a free organic bird to make up the difference. It was not only tiny, but not that tasty. I wouldn't do it again.

      3 Replies
      1. re: perk

        Sounds good. Where's Bristol Farms in relation to Sacramento?

        1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

          They're only in SoCal:

          I personally love the Diestel turkeys. We get them from Iowa Farms, and usually brine them. I've yet to try an heirloom, however.

          1. re: phee

            Oh, too bad. I prefer to order my turkey through a local grocery store in Sacramento and pick it up rather than have it delivered.

      2. I routinely get a regular Diestel turkey (yes, even in SoCal) and think they're great. I've brined or roasted them and they come out well with either cooking method. I probably should mention that I don't find cooking a turkey particularly difficult or intimidating, so perhaps I'm predisposed to ending up with a good turkey ;-)

        1 Reply
        1. re: DiningDiva

          I have used the Dietsel turkey for the last couple of years. Last year I got it in a box that had cooking instructions that included putting wine in the bottom of the baking pan. This year, I didn't get the box. Do you have the directions provided by Dietsel? It was an improvement. Thanks, Lynn

        2. I did a Diestel heirloom turkey last year and my family loved it. I thought it more flavorful than the usual Diestel turkey, which is pretty good to begin with. I have done both Willie Bird and Diestel conventional turkeys for years, have been quite satisfied with both, can't recall noting any big differences between them.

          I usually brine, so after a lot of hesitation I did a 24-hour brine on the heirloom bird as well just to make it a clearer comparison to what I had been doing with conventional birds. As I said, it seemed better although with less breast meat. The different body shape will be a bit startling at first, since it looks like a real bird as opposed to the agricultural artifact we have become used to.

          1. Let's talk turkey dressing too because when I lived in Italy my Italian instructor passed on her poultry stuffing recipe to which she added about a 1/2 cup of fresh grated Parmasan cheese (no substitutes please) and about 3 cloves of garlic sauteed in one stick of butter along with chopped onions and celery, mixed with basic turkey stuffing spices, salt pepper and then poured over fresh bread cubes - I use Pepperidge Farms Wheat Berry bread cut in to cubes.

            But it is the Parmasan cheese and the garlic that lets the magic happen when the stuffing comes out - no one can tell why it tastes so wonderful, but everyone who has had it ends up making it their own tradition too.

            1. Thanks for all the good insight. I try to get organic and natural foods whenever possible, as long as they taste good. Both Diestel and Branigan are local turkey farms, but I am glad to hear that they taste good.

              1. My stepfather uses a Diestel and it's the best turkey anyone in my family has had. We'll never go back to Foster Farms.

                1. We've been using Mary's heritage turkeys (Narragansett or Bourbon Red) for the last couple of years. Better than Diestel.