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Sep 18, 2006 09:32 PM

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?:)


    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.