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Nov 27, 2004 12:22 PM

Heritage turkey experience

  • r

We ordered a Mary's Turkey heritage bird through one of the shops at the Alameda Marketplace. There was no indication whether we got a Narragansett or a Bourbon Red, so I called Mary's 800 number, and they said after the head and feathers are off you can't tell the difference.

We brined it for a day and a half, then roasted. It was easily the best turkey we've had--the white meat in particular was way better than modern breeds'. Had only a small amount of leftovers from a 12-lb. bird shared by eight adults.

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  1. Same with us. Mary's, brined, roasted, _easily_ the best we've ever had. Now I'm wondering if we can get one out-of-season. or get some poults and grow our own!

    Anyone else have a heritage bird this year? What did you think?

    7 Replies
    1. re: patrick
      Robert Lauriston

      I think Mary's heritage turkeys are available by special order any time through Andronico's, Berkeley Bowl, Draeger's, Lunardi's, Mollie Stone's, or Verbrugge.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        We're cooking ours tomorrow. It's in the brine now. Has anybody tried stuffing it? I understand you shouldn't because it will come out salty but I prefer the stuffing cooked in the bird.

        1. re: dinerette

          I didn't have any of these salty problems with the brine that people describe...perhaps my brine was light. 1c salt and 1c sugar to 2 gallons water.

          we used the pan drippings in all sorts of ways, and nothing was too salty.

          i prefer to cook the stuffing separately, though...we stuffed ours with onions/celery/carrots/oranges/lemons/thyme. It really made the turkey taste wonderful.

      2. re: patrick

        My friend prepared a heritage turkey this year that was divine. I have no idea where the turkey came from, but she roasted it in a fairly traditional fashion with a sage butter rub, and it was moist and flavorful. I'm not a huge fan of turkey, but I would definitely try the heritage turkey again.

        1. re: patrick

          Yep, my Chinese relatives, who can never understand the appeal of turkey, thought this year's Mary's was far more flavorful than all the organic/free-range birds of prior years. We were all definitely impressed!

          1. re: patrick

            We didn't brine our Mary's, and it was great.Yes, notably flavorful white meat. No liver in the giblet bag, though--I would've liked to fry it up as the cook's treat.

            1. re: heidipie

              ours had liver, gizzard...and two necks! No heart though. The "giblet grab-bag" is an unusual approach, though it may be a product of hand-processing.

          2. Our Mary's Heritage also came out is much more like the wild turkeys I grew up eating! I brined it (used Cook's illustrated recipe overnight) then stuffed with thyme, lemon, cellery and onion. A bit salty, but very moist. One note of caution: the Diestel "heritage" turkeys at Whole foods are NOT real heritage turkeys! they are simply dark feathered regular large breast turkeys, and they taste just like the usual cardboard! You can see the info at the slow food website...(see link to article)-