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willie bird- pig of sky and water

i went north to guerneville this weekend for a wedding. along the way, i remarked to my companions that i had heard (from here) about the willie bird store in santa rosa, and how i was curious about their smoked fowl. a few random detours later, we drive past the shop. my curiousity and my friends demanding bladder caused us to stop and a few minutes later i walk out with a whole smoked duck and a bag of peppered smoked turkey breast cuts. another friend picked up several types of turkey sausages and turkey spread, which i've never eaten before.

the turkey spread was nice, smokey and smooth, without the gloppiness of too much mayonnaise. that friend called in to his house and dictated instructions to his housemate to make their own (they had just made a randomly early turkey dinner). a few minutes later, he answers the phone and says, "NO, you don't have to make it NOW." i hear that was a successful venture, nonetheless.

but my duck. i butchered it tonight to make portions for sandwiches later, and heated up a leg and a breast for dinner with friends. after setting aside the carcass and meat, and washing off my thoroughly greased cutting board and knives, i brought over a hot plate of smoked duck which disappeared in minutes, between the mussels, buttery chard, and steaks my friend and neighbor made.

my friend said, "if you had said that duck could taste like ham, i wouldn't have believed you until tonight." and i told him, "duck is the pig of the sky and the waters of the earth." or something less biblical in tone. but no doubt, this was a mighty tasty bird. the flesh was pink as ham, and just as salty, tender, and rich. the smokiness didn't overwhelm the natural flavor of the duck, and i'm so excited about the duck breast sandwich wrapped in my fridge for lunch tomorrow, or the rest of the bird, which is destined to be shredded over noodles, and whose bones will make a wonderfully smokey broth or jook.

i have to thank chowhound and our most prolific melanie wong for her regular posts about this place.

ok i'm having trouble linking to the right place and there might be 2 links to the wrong place when i post this. my apologies!

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  1. That will be a most delectable lunch! I believe that you can also buy just the smoked duck breast. A wonderful thing to have in the fridge or freezer for a spur of the moment appetizer when you have unexpected guests. Slice very thin and serve cold or room temperature as duck prosciutto. And the best part is to yank off the whole strip of smoked skin (which isn't good cold anyway) and save it for yourself to make cracklings . . . these taste like duck bacon!

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    Willie Bird Turkeys
    5350 Sebastopol Rd, Santa Rosa, CA

    4 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      oooh..thank you! duck cracklings...i wouldn't have thought of it otherwise.

      1. re: augustiner

        i rendered the skin from my leftover duck into cracklings tonight. then i used the hot fat to make the sauce for some homemade jjajang myon. mm. smoked duck, the gift that keeps on giving. i wish i knew how to pull homemade noodles, though...

      2. re: Melanie Wong

        Two of my favorite words: duck and bacon (sigh) what a lovely thought!

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Mmmm. Oh wow, does this sound good. Duck bacon. Amazing.

        2. Thanks for your post. Willie Bird is a great local brand.

          For everyday snacking and as a salad accoutrement, I highly recommend their sliced peppercorn roasted turkey breast. It is always juicy and usually always faintly marbled, with a small layer of fat ringing the ages. This is a good sign that the breast belonged to a bird given time to develop naturally and not slaughtered before his day.

          5 Replies
          1. re: grishnackh

            Where do you usually buy it, if not at the Willie Bird store?

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Good Life Grocery on Potrero Hill is where I usually buy it, but I also remember Andronico's grocery stores carrying the brand. When I lived near the Solano Avenue Andronico's, I used to buy the Willie Bird whole smoked chickens there. Those were tasty little hens, ready to picnic with the best of 'em.

              1. re: grishnackh

                do you know if the good life in bernal heights carries this as well?

                1. re: augustiner

                  Though I've never been, my guess would be that they do.

                2. re: grishnackh

                  Thanks, I've seen the smoked products at local stores like Sonoma Market, but didn't know how wide the retail distribution might be. And, yes, I like the smoked chickens too, haven't had one for a long time and need to remedy that! A tasty and easy topping for an entree salad.

            2. I eat there at their resturant in Santa Rosa sometimes...really good food. Great turkey sandwich and good pie to I might add!