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Thanksgiving turkeys 2012

Robert Lauriston Sep 23, 2012 03:37 PM

Last year's topic:


The BN Ranch heritage bird I got from Marin Sun Farms last year was fantastic but prices have gone up quite a bit to $10-11.50 a pound.


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  1. Melanie Wong RE: Robert Lauriston Oct 8, 2012 03:07 PM

    Just got the announcement from Slow Food Russian River for this year's Thanksgiving turkeys raised by 4H kids in Sonoma County. Price is $7.50/lb. Only 180 available this year: Bronze, Narragansett and Beltsville Small Whites. Ordering info:

    Here's my photo set of the turkey "transformation" last year where volunteers harvest the heritage birds. Note that there is one picture with blood. I'm really glad to have the chance to observe the amount of care and respect shown these stately birds and how peacefully they pass.

    1. Melanie Wong RE: Robert Lauriston Oct 23, 2012 03:06 PM

      The email for the Community Supported Fishery that my mom belongs to on the Central Coast had much lower prices for BN birds:
      "Now Accepting Deposits for BN Ranch Turkeys for Thanksgiving, Delivery on 11/20
      The mission of Bolinas-based BN Ranch is to "create the best tasting and most wholesome humanely raised Heritage Turkeys in the world." These are some truly amazing birds. Both broad-breasted and heritage turkeys are available, in several size classes each. The prices will be $7.95/lb for heritage birds and $5.25/lb for broad breasted birds. Discounts may be possible if our order reaches a certain volume. If you are interested, please place a deposit on a turkey by making an order on our Web Store (instructions below), no later than midnight on 11/13. The deposit will be deducted from your LCMB balance. Once we know the exact weight of your turkey, we will charge you the difference with a 1-time charge. Since our site hosts have different storage capacaties, we may not be able to distribute turkeys at every site, and there will likely be some location consolidation to facilitate turkey pickup. More details to come, but rest assured that we will find a way to connect you with your turkey."

      1 Reply
      1. re: Melanie Wong
        Melanie Wong RE: Melanie Wong Nov 10, 2012 10:57 AM

        My CSF sent out a note that BN's broad-breasted turkeys are sold out. Still taking orders for heritage turkeys.

      2. d
        dordogne RE: Robert Lauriston Oct 23, 2012 03:10 PM

        I've read that the kosher turkeys from Empire are excellent, permit harried cooks avoid the brining step. First, is it so? Second, is there an East Bay source for Empire turkeys?

        1 Reply
        1. re: dordogne
          Melanie Wong RE: dordogne Oct 24, 2012 11:48 PM

          The kashering process for kosher meats introduces a "dry brine". TJ's used to sell Empire but dropped it a few years ago and replaced it with another kosher brand.

        2. Melanie Wong RE: Robert Lauriston Oct 25, 2012 10:08 PM

          Bi-Rite's price for BN Ranch heritage birds is $6.99/lb.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Melanie Wong
            Robert Lauriston RE: Melanie Wong Oct 26, 2012 08:53 AM

            Wow, these price variations are pretty extreme.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              Melanie Wong RE: Robert Lauriston Oct 29, 2012 11:52 PM

              Hate to say it, but it does make Marin Sun look like its price gouging. Have you called Cafe Rouge for its BN prices?

              1. re: Melanie Wong
                Robert Lauriston RE: Melanie Wong Oct 31, 2012 11:56 AM

                Rouge has only the broad-breasted, not the heritage birds. $5.25/lb., 12-20 lbs.

                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  drewskiSF RE: Melanie Wong Nov 5, 2012 06:59 PM

                  MSF site doesn't currently specify BN Ranch. Did that change?

                  1. re: drewskiSF
                    Robert Lauriston RE: drewskiSF Nov 6, 2012 08:20 AM

                    Huh, you're right, all the references to BN Ranch turkeys are from last year. An email I got last month about a tour says they're raising the broad-breasted birds on their own ranch. The list of heritage breeds is the same as BN Ranch's.

              2. re: Melanie Wong
                sambamaster RE: Melanie Wong Oct 26, 2012 01:21 PM

                That link for the Bi-Rite guide seems broken...try this one:


              3. wolfe RE: Robert Lauriston Oct 30, 2012 04:32 PM

                For those interested in novelty items Costco online special: Big Easy Foods Creole Style Tur-Duc-Hen 15 lbs $64.99

                1. m
                  mdougherty RE: Robert Lauriston Nov 3, 2012 05:58 PM

                  Fallon Hills Ranch at the Grand Lake Famer's Market today had an order sheet for BN Ranch turkeys: $9 a pound for the heritage, $5 a pound for the broad-breasted.

                  1. Paul H RE: Robert Lauriston Nov 4, 2012 08:58 AM

                    Whole Foods SOMA had a 2-hour Diestel Ranch Turkey sale yesterday for $1.99/lb.

                    1. Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Nov 5, 2012 03:53 PM

                      4505 (Ryan Farr) is offering smoked 10-15 lb. BN Ranch heritage birds for $10.50 a pound.


                      8 Replies
                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        master_culinarian RE: Robert Lauriston Nov 5, 2012 04:30 PM

                        For the price would you consider them to be worth it? We're talking about a 150 dollar bird here.

                        1. re: master_culinarian
                          Robert Lauriston RE: master_culinarian Nov 5, 2012 04:50 PM

                          I don't know about 4505's smoked version but the BN Ranch heritage bird we had last year was the best turkey I've ever had.


                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            master_culinarian RE: Robert Lauriston Nov 5, 2012 05:09 PM

                            Interesting but too rich for my blood. No trust fund for me.

                            Got a rec on a bird that costs less than 5 bucks a pound?

                            1. re: master_culinarian
                              rubadubgdub RE: master_culinarian Nov 8, 2012 05:03 PM

                              Mary's Heritage bird is excellent and selling for $5.99/lb at various locales: http://www.marysturkeys.com/storeh.html. Much tastier than the free range or organic turkeys IMO.

                              1. re: rubadubgdub
                                Robert Lauriston RE: rubadubgdub Nov 8, 2012 07:15 PM

                                We had a Mary's heritage bird a few years ago:


                                Best non-heritage turkey we ever had was kosher. Can't remember where we got it.

                              2. re: master_culinarian
                                rubadubgdub RE: master_culinarian Nov 15, 2012 06:18 PM

                                Whole Foods is selling the Diestel organic heirloom birds for $4.99/lb. It's a bit unclear whether these are actual heritage birds. I had considered it in previous years but had read elsewhere that their birds are a cross btw heritage and a broad breasted. But Diestel website copy says that they are Auburn/Mexican Blacks and the same Bronze "as the pilgrims enjoyed", which would make them heritage Bronzes.

                                1. re: rubadubgdub
                                  Melanie Wong RE: rubadubgdub Nov 15, 2012 07:27 PM

                                  What makes me leery of Diestel heirlooms being a heritage bird is that the page describes the birds as broad-breasted. Sounds like a Broad-breasted Bronze.

                                  Hate to get into poultry sex lives, but:
                                  "... modern Broad Breasted Bronze and Broad Breasted White turkeys are not Heritage Turkeys. Only naturally mating turkeys meeting all of the above criteria are Heritage Turkeys."

                                  Here's the Diestel "heirloom" situation two years ago, don't know if things have changed.

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                                    rubadubgdub RE: Melanie Wong Nov 15, 2012 08:39 PM

                                    Ah, that is the article I had read. Thanks for refreshing my memory. So the website copy is a bit misleading, although to their credit they don't call them "heritage" but WF in-store sign does. $4.99 is a probably fair price to pay for organic and some tastiness gene thrown in. Can anyone vouch for taste?

                        2. a
                          adrienne156 RE: Robert Lauriston Nov 8, 2012 11:35 PM

                          I'm so jealous of everyone with their heritage birds. Maybe next year I can try to get one of the local halal butchers to get me one as I foresee a lot of halal turkeys in my future.

                          Called Tayyibaat Meat and Grill and put in my order for a halal Mary's Organic today. They don't have prices, yet. The turkeys are going to come in that fresh/semi-frozen state and then will be frozen. I asked for mine not to be completely frozen.

                          Also, Tayyibaat just opened up a new location in SF in addition to their Milpitas and Tracy locations. These are the guys that used to supply to the beloved Alhambra in the Mission. http://www.bayareahalal.com/index.html

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: adrienne156
                            Melanie Wong RE: adrienne156 Nov 10, 2012 11:32 AM

                            Thanks for mentioning Tayyibaat again. I'd heard about the SF location but promptly forgot about it. Will need to check it out.

                            Another thought on the heritage birds. . . observing the swift stroke for sacrificing the turkeys at last year's Slow Food event, I think that it is the same as required for halal. It could be possible for the other requirements for a blessing of the sacrifice and Muslim dispatcher to be met. Some people slaughter their own and take them home with them after they're dressed on site.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong
                              adrienne156 RE: Melanie Wong Nov 15, 2012 08:58 PM

                              Thank you, Melanie, for reporting back about the Slow Food event. This evening, I called Tayyibaat to check on my order to find that Mary's cancelled Tayyibaat's entire order of halal turkeys to be able to meet their non-halal orders. Needless to say, I am very displeased to find out this late in the game that I have no turkey as is the owner's mother who was counting on an organic turkey. I did mention to the person I spoke to that there are farms that will allow you to pick and slaughter your turkey yourself and they were excited to hear this. I may get my halal heritage next year! In the meantime, back to the drawing board.

                              1. re: adrienne156
                                Melanie Wong RE: adrienne156 Nov 15, 2012 09:28 PM

                                Oh no! That's terrible news.

                                This morning, I rec'd this email from Slow Food saying that there are still some turkeys available from the 4H kids. It includes the email address for Catherine Thode, maybe you or the store can work something out on short notice.

                                I'm not volunteering this year so do not have exact details, but the slaughter should be scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday in Sonoma County. The turkey sacrifice is organized by Jim Reichardt of Liberty Ducks. His staff are there to oversee and train the volunteers. His crew do most of the slaughter, but I did see some young tatted chefs assist with this as well who said this was their first experience. Then each bird is scalded and mechanically plucked, then dressed (i.e., gutted, fine plucking).

                                1. re: Melanie Wong
                                  adrienne156 RE: Melanie Wong Nov 15, 2012 11:49 PM

                                  What a great organization and program. I'll pass on the info to them. Thank you.

                                  I'm too much of a planner not to have something on order by now, so put one in to Cafe Rouge for a BN Ranch broad-breast at $6/lb. (the heritage at $10/lb. was a bit too steep for me). They still have a few of the 15-18 pounders left and the birds will be meeting their demise this Saturday and available for pick up Monday evening. I'm pretty excited to have such a fresh turkey.

                                  1. re: adrienne156
                                    Melanie Wong RE: adrienne156 Nov 16, 2012 10:25 AM

                                    That's so like you, of course you did . . . I needn't fret. I'll be very interested in hearing how the broad-breast turkey from BN tastes.

                                    And this morning I rec'd a note that Tara Firma Farms in Petaluma is still taking orders for pastured turkeys, $7 per pound.

                                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                                      adrienne156 RE: Melanie Wong Jan 14, 2013 03:06 PM

                                      Two months later... I enjoyed my BN broad-breast, although I do not think I will be getting a whole turkey, again. Breasts only, maybe. I am a white meat person and there was a nice pronounced turkey flavor which actually made it more enjoyable to me than my usual Mary's organic, but the dark meat lovers were not as pleased. And, it was mostly my fault as I somehow managed to overcook *just the dark meat* in a 25.75 lbs.(!) turkey in 4 hours. An hour resting on the counter, 45 min at 450 on its breast, the remaining time breast-up at 350. I have under cooked a turkey for fear of drying it out at least twice in the last 6 years, but have never overcooked one. The sources I read told me 6 hours and all of my baked goods turned out beautifully, so I am completely baffled. Of the dark meat that didn't end up stringy, SO thought it was too fatty. There was also a fair amount of fat on the breasts, but I was able to scrape it off the underside of the crispy skin on the breast before serving. The skin was amazing.

                                      Another minor thing - when I unwrapped the turkey, one of the drumsticks looked a little bruised and after cooking, was completely inedible. When you're paying $6 lb. a pound, it's kind of a bummer when such a large part of the bird has to automatically end up in the trash.

                                  2. re: Melanie Wong
                                    fogcityite RE: Melanie Wong Dec 6, 2012 12:31 AM

                                    We scored one of the 4H birds. A Narragansett raised by a young girl (about 11 years old, I'd guess) who actually got it out of the refrigerated storage and gave it to us. Had its head and feet, but was gutted.

                                    It was, hands down, the best turkey I have ever eaten. Succulent. Moist. Flavorful. Delicious. Even my mother enjoyed it, and she doesn't like turkey (my childhood was spent eating Thanksgiving capons). We had a large bird, and never tired of the leftovers. I hope this is an annual 4H project. Yum!

                                    1. re: fogcityite
                                      Melanie Wong RE: fogcityite Dec 15, 2012 11:21 PM

                                      Wonderful! It has been an annual project for several years and with your support of 4H can continue. I believe that the only parts of the bird that you don't receive are the feathers, lungs and intestinal tract.

                            2. Melanie Wong RE: Robert Lauriston Nov 10, 2012 11:06 AM

                              Stopped by Willie Bird store yesterday to pick up turkey carcasses to make stock ahead of T-day. Fresh Sonoma County free-range turkeys are $3.49/lb this year if you pick up at the store (note that higher prices shown on its website include FedEx delivery). Best day for pick-up is Sunday, 11/18, the one Sunday a year that the store is open.
                              Retail Store: 5350 Highway 12, Santa Rosa, CA 707-545-2832 Will Call Orders Only

                              1. e
                                Ericruo RE: Robert Lauriston Nov 16, 2012 08:16 PM

                                Decided to try a Brannigan's, $5.25 lb., I think, at Andronicos. Going to cut it up and cook the parts separately. The notion of more dark meat is the attraction. Have tried Willie Birds, Foster Farms, Diestel organic and not, nameless corporate turkeys, and thus far, can't tell much of a difference. All have been brined and generally cooked on the Weber over charcoal with a little smoke. We shall see if this is silly. Having a Mary's organic too. Wish I could feel it was worth it to buy the heritage birds but less disposable income these days... Ordered a Mangalitsa ham as part of a group from Johnsons Country Hams - the Heath Putnam experiment...

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Ericruo
                                  Melanie Wong RE: Ericruo Nov 17, 2012 10:36 AM

                                  Do let us know how the Johnston County ham fares!

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                                    Ericruo RE: Melanie Wong Dec 16, 2012 05:16 PM

                                    Kinda off topic but the Mangalitsa ham has been wonderful. It is more robustly flavored than italian proschiutto. Its on a par with the half kilo I once had of jamon be bellota at a deli in Ireland - this was before you could import the iberico hams to the USA. Its expensive yet cheap for what it is. If I did it again, I'd get them to slice it - I tried to shave off slices with a nice sharp ham knife newly acquired at Columbus Cutlery but the meat was very dense. The folks at Little City were kind enough to use their meat saw and cut it into more manageable pieces, not ideal but way better than I could pull off. I'd recommend it if one had the means to go along with the desire.

                                2. r
                                  rubadubgdub RE: Robert Lauriston Nov 28, 2012 10:42 AM

                                  Well, there's TD and after-TD turkeys. Since I was a guest left without leftovers, I trotted out and got my turkey today. To my surprise BB was practically giving away their Mary's heritage turkeys for 3.99/lb (sorry I got the last one)! I'm hugging it with glee. Looking forward to my upcoming dinner. Are there other places offloading for much less? I gather most places don't want to keep the turkeys for a month. They simply reorder closer to xmas.

                                  1. Shrinkrap RE: Robert Lauriston Nov 18, 2013 04:22 PM

                                    Any updates, or should I start a new thread? Easiest to find are usually Willie, Diestal and Branigan up here.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Shrinkrap
                                      Robert Lauriston RE: Shrinkrap Nov 18, 2013 04:28 PM

                                      2013 discussion: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/922608

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                        Shrinkrap RE: Robert Lauriston Nov 18, 2013 05:27 PM

                                        So much for my searching skills. Thanks!

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