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Nov 2, 2011 09:34 PM

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.

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.

    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

    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:

      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

        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: 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

              Sonoma Market
              500 W Napa St, Sonoma, CA 95476