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2011 - Let's talk turkey

It has been a few years since I roasted my own turkey. My turkey of choice was the Diestel organic turkey. They seem to have an expanded range of turkey's this year. Right now I'm trying decide between Willie Bird and Diestel. However, I'm open to all suggestions.

Here's what I've seen turkey-wise so far

Whole Food
$2.29 lb Whole Foods Market Natural turkeys
$2.69 lb Diestel's Natural Whole Turkeys (Hens and Toms)
$2.69 lb Diestel's petite turkeys
$3.99 lb Diestel's Heidi's hens organic turkeys
$4.99 - Diestel's organic Heirloom turkeys from Bronze and Auburn family lines

Willie Bird

Hard to tell the prices because it includes shipping. I'd probably pick it up at the shop.
http://www.williebird.com/FreshTurkey...

The Local Butcher, Berkeley

$8 lb - BN Ranch Broad Breast white heritage turkey
$12 lb - BN Ranch black heritage turkey

What else is available?

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  1. Here's the info for ordering a heritage bird (organic diet) raised by 4H kids in Sonoma County. Jim Reichardt of Liberty Ducks oversees the program. $7.50/lb. About 200 birds are available.
    http://slowfoodrr.org/Slow_Food_Russi...

    -----
    Liberty Ducks
    520 Fair Ave, Petaluma, CA 94952

    2 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      I got an email that there are still about 70 turkeys available. It's not too late.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Saturday I was an observer for the annual heritage turkey harvest by Slow Food Russian River, billed as Turkey Transformation. Sunday I returned to be hands-on. There were many more volunteers on rainy Sunday, including several from Bay Area restaurants, and I didn't get a chance to work all the stations. I did learn something about plucking poultry, as well as the ins and outs of turkey innards, and discovered that a pastured turkey's gizzard can be a thing of beauty. The testicles and unborn huevos were saved, and I saw more than one chef leaving with a bag of them. I heard that the turkey lungs were set aside for Chris Cosentino and that he makes tasty crostini with them. Most of all I was impressed by the care and respect shown these rare birds.

        I've linked my photo set below. Click on "slideshow" for easy viewing, and then "show info" in the upper right corner for captions. WARNING: there is one photo of the throat slitting station.

        "Turkey Transformation, Thanksgiving 2011" - Heritage Turkey project sponsored by Slow Food Russian River and Sonoma County 4H
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

    2. In the past Berkeley Bowl has carried Willie Bird. Mary's is the other big player -- they have "free range," organic and heritage turkeys. Here's their store finder: http://www.marysturkeys.com/store.html

      -----
      Berkeley Bowl
      2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

      Willie Bird's Restaurant
      1150 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

      4 Replies
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Just a word about Mary's (concerning their chickens). I used to buy rotisserie chickens from Whole Foods and friends and I really disliked the last one I bought there .. I was told that all the WF around here had switched from using Rocky Jr to Mary's. (I'd bought Mary's chicken breasts to cook at home and really disliked those, too -- very tough and produced a lot of water -- maybe those chickens got to walk around too much a built up muscle.)

        1. re: walker

          That's funny. I've been buying Mary's chicken and find it to be very good. Their chickens are air chilled, so they should have less water, not more.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            I buy Mary's chicken almost exclusively, and have never found them to be even remotely tough or watery- rather, they are universally juicy and moist, regardless of cooking method.

            They've been my go-to turkey for 4-5 years now.

            1. re: Pius Avocado III

              I've regularly been buying Mary's thighs and legs, and have bought whole chickens in the past. They've been delicious every time. Love that they're nice and dry, not at all watery, and crisp up very well

      2. We bought ours at Fatted Calf in Hayes Valley. They're offering two types this year:

        Good Shepherd Ranch Turkeys are $7.25 per pound--this is what we purchased.

        Early Bird Ranch turkeys are available in small and large sizes. Small turkeys will range from 12-15 pounds and are $105. Large turkeys will range from 15-18 pounds and are $130.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pane

          Yeah, I stopped by the Napa market today. They said orders should be placed by next week for both because there are a limited number. For the Good Shepherd Ranch turkey they need a $25 deposit. For the Early Bird Ranch turkey you need to pay the whole thing upfront. More info from their website
          http://fattedcalf.com/menu.php

        2. I had smashing success with a Mary's heritage turkey last year (I think $4.99/lb at BBowl). It's the first heritage breed I've eaten and now I can't go back. Really the best bird I've ever eaten. I believe we finished the turkey in one sitting it was that good (10 lbs was just enough for 6 people). I didn't brine; I just used the marinade on the Mary's site: http://www.marysturkeys.com/heritager... and a thermometer to make sure I didn't overcook. But I think the kicker was that I inadvertently air dried the turkey for 3 days in my fridge (I either loosely covered or left uncovered, I can't recall) and the skin was wonderfully crisp! For comparison I had organic turkey at a friend's house and flavorwise it just didn't stand up.

          3 Replies
          1. re: rubadubgdub

            Mary's heritage birds at BB are $5.69 this year- first come, first served, birds arriving 11/18 or 11/19.

            1. re: Pius Avocado III

              Went to Berkeley Bowl East today - should have called first. They didn't have the heritage turkeys yet, and depending on who you asked, they are getting them in either Saturday or Monday. It was very disorganized, which seems to be par for the course compared to previous years. On the other hand, Berkeley Bowl West seemed much more organized. They have heritage birds available, but the smallest one they had was 19 lbs. They said they are not getting more in. I recommend you call Berkeley Bowl West if you're interested in a heritage. Berkeley Bowl West also had their Mary's free-range, Mary's organic, and Willie Bird free range birds out in an open cooler. Smallest bird I could find was a 13-lb Willie Bird. Didn't ask if they had smaller ones in the back. At Berkeley Bowl East, all the turkeys are behind the meat counter, b/c they don't have the fridge space for meat. Makes for more disorganization.

              -----
              Berkeley Bowl
              2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

              Berkeley Bowl West
              920 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA

              1. re: carieshmarie

                That's odd ... I was at BBW mid-afternoon on Friday and picked up a 9lb Mary's heritage bird after deciding the 12lb was too large for two. There was a stack of white and brown boxes they were taking them from. The bird I got came in a white box.

          2. From Whole Foods FB page: Early Bird Turkey Special this Saturday Nov. 5th from 8:00am-11:00am only! 40% off on all 10-12lb Diestel's Natural & Heidi's Organic Whole Turkeys! Limit 2.

            1 Reply
            1. re: hhc

              Early bird, eh?

              Hmm ... I wonder if the quality is significantly different if they are frozen for a few weeks.

              Sonoma Market had the largest selection I've seen so far. They won't have pricing available until next week though. One turkey they have so far that I haven't seen elsewhere is Branigan's from Woodland, CA. In the turkey business since 1942
              http://www.braniganturkey.com/

              -----
              Sonoma Market
              500 W Napa St, Sonoma, CA 95476

            2. Marin Sun Farms has a heritage turkey from BN Ranch for $6.99 a pound, and a broad breasted turkey (also by BN Ranch) for $3.99 a pound (I'm pretty sure those are the prices, I asked at the store the other day, but the per lb prices aren't on the website).

              1. I've decided to go with a Brannigan turkey from Sonoma Market ($3.99 lb)

                I liked they were raised longer than most and developed a layer of fat as a result. The meat department at Sonoma Market is wonderful. When I ordered the Brannigan, she asked if I ever tried Willie Bird and we ... well ... talked turkey for a while. The Brannigan is the most broad-breasted with the most white meat.

                Seriously, Sonoma Market has the largest selection of turkey's, practically every turkey in this thread plus a few more. I didn't remember all of them. They will have the info on the website net week.

                The prices are better also. Andronico's is charging $4.59 for the Brannigan and seriously, the Shattuck meat department has really taken a dive. They were totally unhelpful. I'd rather drive to Sonoma.

                Other Andronico's birds

                $2.49 - Andronico's signature turkey

                $2.99 - Mary's free range turkey

                $3.99 - Mary's organic turkey

                Berkeley Bowl's turkeys

                $2.49 - Mary's free range

                $3.69 - Mary's organic

                $3.69 - Willie Bird free range

                $4.19 - Willie Bird organic

                $5.69 - Heritage turkeys on a first come first serve basis. Don't know what type though.

                Ferry Plaza also has Mountain Ranch organically grown heritage turkeys in addition to the BN Ranch turkeys sold by Marin Sun Farms ... not to mention the 4505 Meats turduken. More about Mountain Ranch

                http://www.cuesa.org/article/heirloom...

                Here's the FP Thanksgiving schedule.

                http://www.cuesa.org/thanksgiving-gui...

                There was a good article about heritage turkey's in the Cuesa newsletter this week

                http://www.cuesa.org/article/heritage...

                Hope people will report back after Thanksgiving about what turkey they bought and what they thought

                Hmmm .. I'm starting to get buyers remorse about the Brannigan. Anyone tried it?

                I haven't made Thanksgiving dinner for over 5 years and I figured the layer of fat on the turkey would give a little more error wiggle room. When I was doing Thanksgiving dinner, it took me five years to get the turkey right and Diestel always worked for me.

                I don't want a heritage bird because I'm thinking they might be the sports cars of turkeys ... you have to know what you are doing and they might be more difflcult to cook. Some thread on Home Cooking a few years ago scared me away from cooking my own. So it is more of the screw-up factor on my part for rejecting heritage birds this time around. Maybe for Christmas or next year ... and probably Mountain Ranch

                2 Replies
                1. re: rworange

                  I had the same trepidation about heritage birds which is why I tried Mary's heritage and not the more expensive birds. If you have a thermometer it's hard to mess up. They do recommend a lower end temp. My own poll of folks who have cooked it say no brine and just simple roasting is all you need. The flavor is in the genes. Olivier's Butchery in Dogpatch is offering only Branigan's and maybe they can speak to its taste.

                  -----
                  Olivier's Butchery
                  1074 Illinois St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                  1. re: rworange

                    We had the Diestel Heritage bird last year from Golden Gate Meats and it was probably the best turkey I've ever had. Even my husband who isn't wild about turkey liked it quite a bit.

                    -----
                    Golden Gate Meat
                    Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                  2. I ordered a free-range Willie Bird turkey from Drewes Bros. Meats for $3.09/lb. They're located at 1706 Church St.
                    San Francisco, CA 94131
                    415.821.0515

                    It's easiest to order online, as they're very busy at this time of year.
                    http://www.drewesbros.com/orderpage.html

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Euonymous

                      Actually, Drewes was out of the Willie Bird turkey in the size I needed (16-18lb.), so we ended up getting a Diestel instead. I think it was $3.49/lb. A tasty bird, but I don't think it was any better than a Willie Bird, so I don't think I'll pay the premium price for a Diestel again if I don't have to.

                      -----
                      Willie Bird's Restaurant
                      1150 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

                    2. Tried both the Mary's heritage and the Mary's free range last year - most actually preferred the "white" meat on the heritage bird. Of course there is not that much white meat on the heritage bird. There was definitely a huge flavor difference, with the heritage bird having a deeper, more complex turkey flavor. The free range was good too, and may be a better bet if you've got a mixed crowd used to traditional turkeys and lots of white meat. Both turkeys were dry-brined and roasted. Thinking of going BN Ranch heritage this year, as we have a smaller group and can maybe splurge a little more.

                      1. Tasting Table's item of the day was Belcampo's turkey Meat Up in Oakland, Nov 22 & 23
                        $7/lb Broad breast bronze or white pastured turkey
                        http://www.belcampomeatco.com/shop#No...

                        1. Flowery Elementary School (Spanish/English dual immersion program) in Sonoma sells fresh and smoked Willie Bird turkeys as its fall fundraiser. Here's the form to order online, deadline Friday Nov 18.

                          http://www.floweryschool.org/home/CA4...

                          1. Costco Framani Diestal turkeys, I believe brined and seasoned something like $3.29 a pound.

                            1. Last years Diestel from Whole Food was on the rubbery, tougher side. Could very well have been operator error...

                              I don't recall which one we got in the end, since they upgraded us to a Diestel from the "Market natural turkey", due to a mixup but it's possible they're just difficult to cook. All of the birds there were a lot more frozen than the chilled, partial freeze arrival would suggest. Some of them looked small for the weight, in my opinion, but they claim to weigh them before freezing. In any case, it wasn't like shopping for a fresh never frozen bird, and you obviously can't thumb your way for one you like the way you would with a frozen Butterball at Safeway.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: sugartoof

                                This thread on Home Cooking for a roast turkey recipe from the old Petrinis said it was simliar to the instruction on the Deistel box for roasting (minus the booze). So that could possibly be why I've never had a bad Diestel turkey ... I followed those instructions exactly.
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/817518

                                1. re: rworange

                                  Wine, cheesecloth, tied legs.... we certainly didn't so that, nor have I ever felt like a bird required that much fussing around... but that sure was informative, and I can see how that would have produced good results.

                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                    Ah, I didn't follow the link. Someone said it was similar ... GOD NO. That is the Petrini's recipe. Diestel is much simpler just involving temperatures and they deal with the legs themsleves so there was no turkey bondage on my part. Here's the Diestel link

                                    http://www.diestelturkey.com/recipes_...

                                    Now you are screwing with my mind and I'm stressing over roasting the bird again. Maybe I'll,go back to Diestal and forget the unknown Brannigan. I may buy that $5 Safewy turkey (up to 12 lbs) to practice.

                                    Sonoma Market finally updated the website with the turkeys they have

                                    3.99 - Branigan
                                    7.99 - BN Ranch Heritage
                                    3.29 - Diestel Free Range
                                    5.99 - Diestel American Heritage
                                    3.29 -WillieBird
                                    3.99 - Organic Williebird

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      I believe you have to spend about $25 to get the cheap bird. I find it difficult to find $25 worth of stuff at Safeway that I can't get better and/or cheaper elsewhere. i do, of course, have copious free time to shop.

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        I think the clue in sugartoof's message was that the bird may have been not entirely defrosted? I made the same mistake last year with a heritage bird for xmas (not enough room in the fridge at my parents' place so we left it in the midwest garage until the day of cooking) and it felt tragic. Outside cooked faster than the cooler inside and thermo readings were misleading = overcooked turkey. Buying fresh obviously will nix this issue or by Tuesday to ensure complete defrosting, marinading, skin drying, etc. Interesting bit in SF Chron this wk about how previously frozen birds accept brine the best bc freezing breaks down the cell walls. Fresh will accept marinade or rub better I think it said.

                                        1. re: rubadubgdub

                                          It did sound as if we tried to cook the bird partially frozen. We had enough time to let it defrost in the fridge, it was just unexpected for a "fresh never frozen" turkey.

                                          We may have also got a clunker, or something happened in the WF handling.

                                          I'm of the opinion that it's hard to screw up a good turkey. The best ones are often the ones I think I've screwed up, and end up being a surprise by how perfect they come out.

                                2. Reminder that Willie Bird Turkey retail store is open tomorrow, the one Sunday each year that it stays open. I stopped by yesterday to buy a carcass, wings, necks, and giblets to get a head start on making stock and gravy for Thanksgiving.

                                  -----
                                  Willie Bird Turkeys
                                  5350 Sebastopol Rd, Santa Rosa, CA

                                  1. Better late then never... Doing the halal turkey thing again and found my Mary's at Tayyibaat in Milpitas for $2.99 a lb. They used to supply turkeys to the much loved Alhambra in the City. Call ahead!

                                    Other:

                                    Oasis – Turkey Valley Farms – $2.59
                                    Salama, SF – Turkey Valley Farms – $2.29 or $2.49, called before they set their price
                                    Maiwand, Fremont – couldn't tell me what, but thought $2.99 per lb. on 11/15
                                    Damavand Market, Fremont – got told to call three times over the past two weeks and gave up
                                    Indus Foods – Turkey Valley Farms -- $1.79

                                    http://www.turkeyvalleyfarms.com/inde...

                                    12 Replies
                                    1. re: adrienne156

                                      yay! So glad you found your halal Mary's this year!....

                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/664932

                                      I, on the other hand, got hit with a major, very unexpected (but exciting), somewhat all encompassing project just two weeks ago, that is going to take some serious chunks of my time over the next two months, and with some particularly important meetings last week and this week. So much for time off right before the holiday. And of course, I have twenty people coming for Thanksgiving....so, I checked my stress meter and decided that I didn't have or want to make the time to make my planned trip back to Fresno for halal turkey. I actually called Mary's, hoping by some miracle they would tell me of a place nearer to Merced to get them, but they never called me back.

                                      Fortunately, I had to be in Oakland about a week or two ago briefly anyway for an already planned event, so on my way home I got three of the Turkey Valley Farms turkeys from Oasis, brought them home in a cooler, right into the freezer. It did give me a perfect excuse to visit Oasis for the first time (place is great: I also got dolmas for the road, which were good, but a bit garlicky for my taste if there is such a thing as too garlicky, some lovely pastries, and stocked up on other halal meats for my Muslim family members' visit). Service at Oasis was very helpful.

                                      I'm a little nervous that this year's Turkey Valley Farms turkey won't live up to the perfection I achieved two years ago with a Mary's fresh halal turkey cooked on the Weber, (didn't host last year) but that's life in the fast lane. Will report back if there is or isn't a huge difference.

                                      Edited to add: yes, I know, three turkeys for twenty people is a lot. One small one is to roast for stock (will freeze the extra meat). Working on that now....

                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                        I'm sure the turkey will be fine; don't stress it. And don't worry about there being two much turkey....I was already wondering how I might sweetly ask for leftover turkey meat so that I can make my favorite roast turkey/cranberry chutney/sourdough bread sandwich....of course I could always roast a turkey myself next week!

                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                          Congrats on your project!!! I totally understand the life in the fast lane part and I'm sure your turkeys will turn out great. I didn't cook last year either and got an earful from the little sister, so am making up for it this year. I had no clue where to find a halal Mary's with Alhambra gone, but luckily this nifty link lead me right to Tayyibaat: http://www.marysturkeys.com/store.html. Exceptionally nice people and good kebabs (they are a meat market and grill). People were eating huge platters of roasted chicken and rice when I went in to place my order.

                                          I don't think three turkeys is too much for twenty people, but then again Bengalis are notorious for making entirely too much food. My rationale is that if there's even a remote possibility my parents' friends are going to "stop by for tea," I'm cooking a twenty-pounder. That sandwich Janet describes in my main reason for cooking the darn thing!

                                          Btw, have you tried doing the three-day salt cure a la Zuni Cafe? My SO's mother bought a nondescript halal turkey last year that she paid $1.99/lb. for that we salt cured and it was delicious. Can't hurt... I started mine last night, but have had great results with two-days. I'm sure you're familiar with it, but for anyone else... http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...

                                          1. re: adrienne156

                                            I've been doing the salt cure for the past three years, and I love it -- way way easier than brining, and really delicious. I started mine this morning, this year I added a few more herbs/spices to the salt, we'll see how it turns out.

                                          2. re: susancinsf

                                            Susan, wanted to point out that Tayyibaat where Adrienne secured her turkey also has a store in Tracy. Looks about the same distance as Fresno for you.
                                            http://www.bayareahalal.com/hours-loc...

                                            -----
                                            Tayyibaat
                                            10 S Abbott Ave, Milpitas, CA 95035

                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                              Thanks Melanie! Tracy is a bit further than Fresno, but not much, and since it is on the way to the bay area, a stop there would be convenient. Will try to check it out soon....btw, my daughter and SIL spend a fair amount of time in Tracy (her Dad lives there) and report that there are a number of halal restaurants to serve its growing Muslim population. She has a favorite halal pizza place there and loves to indulge in their 'meat-lovers' special whenever they are in town. Alas, not being a pizza fan in general I neglected to ask her the name of the place...

                                              1. re: susancinsf

                                                There was a recent report on the Calif board for an Afghani place, I didn't realize that Tracy was becoming a center. Good to know if I'm headed that way.
                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/799648

                                            2. re: susancinsf

                                              my report back is that the turkeys were good, although I didn't think quite as good as the Mary's turkeys: not quite as flavorful, perhaps, a small enough difference that it could have been my imagination. My guests didn't complain, certainly, and the stock I made this weekend from carcasses is beautiful. I used some of it to make some outstanding halal turkey matzoh ball soup on Saturday.

                                              1. re: susancinsf

                                                susancinsf, to follow up, just wondering how your Turkey Valley Farms halal turkeys turned out last year. I need a halal turkey, and am considering buying a TVF this year. (I regularly shop at Indus, so it makes the most sense.) Thanks! ;o)

                                                1. re: giacomantonia

                                                  Oops, sorry about that. I just saw that you've already reported back. Not sure how I missed it. But now I have a question. Can a halal turkey be dry brined, using the three-day "Judy Bird" salt/herb brine mentioned in the LA Times article linked here? I did that last year on a regular (Diestel) turkey that I butterflied. It was fantastic. I'd like to do that again, but need to use a halal bird. Thanks! ;o)

                                                  1. re: giacomantonia

                                                    I don't believe there's any reason you couldn't salt an halal turkey. They aren't already salted the way kosher turkeys are.

                                                    1. re: giacomantonia

                                                      I've salt brined/cured for the last 3 or 4 years. Gorgeous crispy skin.

                                                      Btw, Tayyibaat of Milpitas just opened up a store in San Francisco (fantastic halal butcher and just really nice people). I got my Mary's Organic turkey there last year and called them this morning for this year's order. They don't have prices yet, because they're waiting for them to come in, but I think they may have other brands, as well.

                                                      http://www.bayareahalal.com/index.html

                                              2. Anybody seen turkey parts around the Berkeley / Oakland area this weekend? Everyplace I've checked that normally has them is out until after Thanksgiving.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  Parts as in cut-up parts or the innards? Indus Foods kept asking me if I was sure I wanted a whole turkey and may have what you're looking for.

                                                  1. re: adrienne156

                                                    Parts as in to make stock. Necks, wings, bones, whatever.

                                                2. I have a BN heritage bird this year, but would like to cook a breast as well, for leftovers and to appease the white meat lovers in the crowd. Was thinking Willie Bird, but it seems hard to find in San Francisco. Diestel appears more common, and I've seen Mary's but I don't love their chicken. Any thoughts on which would be better for non-heritage bone in breast?

                                                  -----
                                                  Willie Bird's Restaurant
                                                  1150 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: mrs bacon

                                                    Someone posted in this thread that Drewes Market in SF has Willie Bird. Someone else posted that finding parts to roast is getting diffiicult. So if you don't go to Drewes your decision might be basked on the availability of being able to buy just the breast.

                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                      WF in SF (California/Franklin) has turkey parts -- of course, it's really crowded there.

                                                    2. re: mrs bacon

                                                      For future reference, Mollie Stones markets carry Willie Bird. I think they all do, based on my own experience purchasing from the California/Filmore store, and a friend's experience purchasing from the new Castro location.

                                                      There is a lot of price variation on WIllie Bird, and I assume all turkeys. AG Ferrari and Williams Sonoma sell Willie Bird at about twice the price Mollie Stone charges. Two years ago, the Mollie price was under $3 a pound for the natural, so they are probably competitive with Drewe's $3.09 / pound quoted this year.

                                                    3. For people looking for a last minute "fresh" turkey, Trader Joe's in El Cerrito has a lot. Having shopped one year the day before, it wasn't easy finding fresh. The reason for the "fresh" is that it looks like they were kept close to freezing or maybe frozen and almost all thawed.

                                                      2.49 - TJ's Glatt Kosher brined 100% vegetarian fed (ironic, eh) turkey
                                                      1.99 - TJ's brined all natural turkey (the brine stuff was all good)

                                                      Gratuitous pecan pie tasting - pretty good.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                        The "vegetarian fed" thing is about health/disease.

                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                          I went to Trader Joe's early on Wednesday and got a Glatt Kosher bird. I thought it a little funny looking. I picked out lots of incompletely removed feather quills, and the wing tips had been damaged - one more than the other. I wasn't so sure after spending time cleaning and evening it up . . . but it was delicious, moist and tender.

                                                        2. The BN Ranch heritage bird was the best turkey I've had. Really delicious.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                            Do you know what breed it was?

                                                            I liked the Branigan turkey a lot. For anyone who likes dark meat, this was the most intensely flavored dark meat i've ever had without being gamey and over the top.

                                                            That being said, I'd probably go back to Diestel because the difference wasn't that much and it is easier to find. However, next year I'll probably give the Willie Bird a try.

                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                              BN Ranch has Standard Bronze, Narragansett, Bourbon Red, White Holland, and Spanish Black turkeys. I'm not sure which we had or if they have been interbreeding.

                                                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                              2nd. It got raves from all of our guests.

                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                Third, the one I roasted was excellent.

                                                              2. This year I bought a prebrined and seasoned Fra Mani Diestel turkey from Costco $3.39 a pound. It was great. Flavorful and moist and not at all salty. In prior years I would buy a Diestel turkey from Lunardis and salt it or brine it myself. This turkey was better and so much easier. I will be looking for it again next year for sure!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: slipson

                                                                  Thanks for the report -- I saw those at Costco and was curious if anyone tried them.