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Turkeys 2013

Been getting my local fresh turkeys from Wagon Wheel in Lexington the last few years, and I've been happy with them. They get them from a farm in western MA. $2.99/lb is not cheap, but not crazy expensive either.
Anyone else got a better option? Are the heirlooms worth the price?
My plan this year is to brine, then spatchcock it and smoke it. The Chow recipe for smoking looks good, anyone here tried it?

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  1. Get mine at Mayflower and always have been happy. The heirloom birds at WF were too pricey so, in 2011, we did a "face off" between a WF heirloom and a Mayflower fresh bird to see if it was really worth the money and the Mayflower was preferred. I brine and smoke but haven't used the Chow recipe.

    1 Reply
    1. re: teezeetoo

      I just talked with the folks at Mayflower. They get their birds from North Carolina. They used to come fresh killed and packed in ice. This year they've switched to an earlier kill, cryovac packed and chilled to 35 degrees. Probably fine, and I think about $3/lb. Just FYI, I don't know how it affects the quality of the bird, I've even read that Cooks Illustrated said that frozen was better than fresh...

    2. M F Dulock has some - this, from their FB page:

      "We have a limited number of fresh Massachusetts turkeys available for Thanksgiving. These are pasture-raised broad breasted whites. We are offering 13-15 pound @ $90.00 per bird, 16-20 pound @ $120.00 per bird, and 20-25 pound @ $150.00 per bird. Please call the shop (617) 666-1970 to place your order. Orders must be received by Wednesday 11/20/2013. We require a $25.00 non-refundable deposit to secure your order. Turkeys will be available for pick up on Tuesday 11/26 & Wednesday 11/27."

      6 Replies
      1. re: Small Plates

        Hmmm, lets see, $150 for a designer fresh 20 pound bird, or $10 for that frozen cheapo at the market?

        For those with deep pockets but wanting a better deal than above, Miss Scarlet Farm in Yarmouthport is still taking reservations for free range heritage birds at $5 per pound. They also have free range duck and goose. 508.420.9748

        1. re: CapeCodGuy

          Do they deliver to or distribute in the Greater Boston area?

          1. re: Gabatta

            I'm sure some here appreciate a tip on where to get a free range heritage bird direct from a local farm and purveyor. And those folks will drive the hour or so to get one at a much fairer price than Dulock's, for instance.

            1. re: CapeCodGuy

              I was asking an honest question and I'll take that as a no.

              Since you mention it, why would I waste a 3 hour round trip and a tank of gas (which isn't free the last time I checked) to save $30 on an 18 pound bird? Yes, Dulock's price works out to $6.66/lb for that size bird, and your much fairer price is $5/lb? Dulock's prices are more than reasonable consider the location and quality of product.

              1. re: Gabatta

                Maybe 3 hours for some, but 1-2 hours for others, as this region's board often hosts queries from the Plymouth area and south shore. You must drive some gas guzzler to use a full tank of gas to get to the Cape and back. I use about 5 gallons RT to Boston. and I live in the mid Cape. A $20# bird from Dulock's is $7.50 per pound so direct from the farm is a 50% savings. Even factoring in the gas, those who don't live north of the city come out ahead. Also, the birds at Scarlett's are heritage birds. There's no indication that Dulocks are as such. Most pay $10/# for heritage which is a fairer comparison. Plus they can enjoy that they are buying direct from the farm, AND they get a nice trip to Cape Cod. Win,win,win. Not for you? okay, sure. (I'm sure you use zero gas driving in traffic to Dulocks)

                TBH...I enjoy my fresh free range from Bongi's Turkey Farm in Duxbury every year. Tastes delicious to me and around $3 lb. (plus gas)

                1. re: CapeCodGuy

                  We're not sure why this of all subjects got so testy so fast, but we've removed a couple of posts here.

                  If people have tips on where to get great turkey please do share them. Whether or not a given price or drive is acceptable is likely to be a pretty personal question, so let's let that argument go, please.

      2. I've done Owen's Poultry in Needham for a couple years and then last year did a Misty Knoll Farms from Fromaggio which was $77 for 12 pounds. Personally, I found it only marginally better and will definitely be going for a cheaper option this year. I remember seeing some at WF last year for about half that price or maybe I'll just call Mayflower.

        I always do a salt cure (or dry-brine if you will, but that term seems to oxy-moronic for me), for 24 hours in the fridge and then roast in the oven. I've found this method to produce the most "turkey" tasting turkey.

        My father-in-law always smokes and I will say it produces delicious turkeys, but in more of a smokey flavor than a turkey flavor.

        1. I've been buying mine at Sulmona's in the NE.

          I don't remember the price/lb but I remember them being very reasonably priced.

          No fancy pedigree. I think they get them from somewhere in the Carolinas, fresh not frozen.

          I've always been very pleased.

          Order 1-2 weeks before Thxgiving and pick up M-W.

          1. I tried a heritage bird last year from an online purveyor - $45-50 for an 11-pound bird (I got a "deal"). Maybe it was this vendor - no one gave me more raves for my turkey being extra delicious last year. I thought it tasted just as good as past years, but nothing special.

            1. I got mine this year from City Feed & Supply, they come from Misty Knoll farms in VT and they bring them down a couple days before Thanksgiving. I believe it's around $5 a pound. I did this last year too, it was delicious.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Bugsey34

                We got a Misty Knoll turkey delivered through Crescent Ridge last year and I remember it being good. They have it on offer again, $4.69 per pound this year.

                http://www.copicutfarms.com/ is taking advance orders for delivery to a few locations, including Lexington's Thanksgiving Market on Nov 26. $4.99 / lb and she says they go fast.

                1. re: Chris VR

                  They had Misty Knolls at Savenors last year and The Meat House in years past. Truly excellent birds. We enjoyed them quite a bit more than the birds from Owens we had in the past.

                  1. re: Gabatta

                    I just checked and Russo's will have fresh turkeys from a Vermont farm - my friend used them last year and was happy. Order in advance. They'll be taking orders next week. Don't know price: she thought it was around 2.29 a pounds last year.

                    1. re: teezeetoo

                      We've bought our turkeys from Russo's for several years now and have been very happy with the turkeys, the price, and the service.

                      One issue for our household is that we usually only need a small bird - our "big" family gathering a couple of years ago was nine people including two small children, and some years it's just the two of us. It can be really hard to find a turkey that's 12 pounds or smaller!

                      1. re: teezeetoo

                        I picked up the flyer from Russo's. The turkeys are from Stonewood Farm in Vermont. Sizes start from 12lbs and go up to 30lbs. $3.49/lb.

                        1. re: y2000k

                          Thanks for the info y2000k - I think that's a big price hike from last year!

                          1. re: y2000k

                            Dave's Fresh Pasta in Somerville is advertising Stonewood Farm turkeys from 10-20 lbs. for $4.39/lb., so Russo's is still not a bad deal.

                  2. I ordered the Massachusetts bird from Lancaster that Savenor's sells last year, a 12 or so pounder, smoked it, and it was fantastic. Definitely the best Thanksgiving turkey I've ever had, but it was also the only the second home-smoked bird I've eaten, so that could have clouded my judgement.

                    It was foolishly expensive ($5.29/lb) compared with other options, but the way it came out made me convince myself it was worth it.

                    1. I drove home last night to the sight of 9 big wild turkeys in the yard... In Belmont of all places (not exactly rural). I have always wanted to try the turkey-poaching ideas from Danny the Champion of the World - wonder if they actually work, in which case I will have a really free range turkey for thanksgiving...

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: tdaaa

                        Wild Turkey is the yuck. Very gamey and tough. Plus, who knows that the varmints have been eating. I don't envy our forefathers who didn't have the option of overpaying at WF or Savenor's.

                        1. re: tdaaa

                          Wild turkey makes very poor eating (better for drinking)

                          Wild are very lean. They have to forage for their food as opposed to turkeys that are actually raised to be eaten.

                          1. re: 9lives

                            With wild turkey the only thing I usually eat is the breast (and neck), and throw out the rest. They have no leg meat, or at least the ones north of Boston don't.
                            I personally don't care for turkey, and find it bland no matter what I do with it.

                            When T-day is at my house in the family rotation it's usually duck duck goose.

                        2. Verrill Farm in Concord will have them, and there's Seven-Acre Poultry Farm in North Reading. I spotted the broad-breasted whites pecking in their turkey-wired outdoor pen last week when I went to pick up some of their wonderful breaded chicken cutlets, and brown eggs.

                          I have never had an heirloom bird but recall Cook's Illustrated/ATK giving them lukewarm praise, given the price.
                          Trader Joe's has all-natural frozen ones, uncaged if memory serves, every Thanksgiving. I got one a few years ago and overcooked it because of its longer, narrower shape. I joked afterward that I thought they slipped me a pelican. Very long leg and wing bones, with the result that the meat layer was thinner and cooked faster. Same thing with the breast area.
                          Though the BBWs are freaks of designer breeding, they are what our recipes, and expectations, are based upon.

                          1. I was just informed I'm cooking Thanksgiving. In the past, I got a great bird from Russo's and everyone said it was noticably better then the average grocer bird. I'll hunt one down and appreciate the ideas on this thread. I think I'm in the $3 a lb range of fresh bird.

                            But to confirm a timeline, is it best to brine on say mon/tues and then rinse and air dry in fridge tues/wed and then stuff on thurs morning. I know that brining can make the stuffing salty so will have a backup casserole stuffing.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Bellachefa

                              Your schedule seems fine if you go the brine route. I'm no huge fan of a wet brine, because to my taste at least, it changes the texture of the meat. And not in a good way. I do like to coat it with a good dose of kosher salt on Tues. night and leave in fridge to air dry until Thurs. morning when I rinse thoroughly. To me, the best thing you can do do a bird after it's stuffed is to shove a nice fresh herb compound butter under the skin. People always comment on how moist and flavorful my turkey is since I started doing it this way.

                              And I'm a big proponent of buying direct from the local farms. We all have one within a reasonable distance. Keep your $$s local and in the pockets of the source. http://boston.cbslocal.com/2010/11/22...

                              1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                Dry brine seems like a good option. Do you just rub with kosher salt all over = inside and out or just mostly outside? Do you put salt under skin? I think dry brining, rinsing and then drying and then doing the butter under the skin may be this years plan. Now to find a bird~

                                I grew up near a turkey farm in central ma. I will look local. But may have to widen the search a state or two.

                                1. re: Bellachefa

                                  I try to limit my salt intake these days, so I only salt the outside, and never under the skin. A dry brine is as simple as rubbing the salt all over the outside of the bird. Wrapping tightly in a plastic bag, leaving in the fridge for 2-3 hours per pound. I rinse after (some don't) and then air dry for a day outside of the bag in the fridge.

                                  If you're serious on buying direct from a farm instead of a grocer, click on the link which shows all the local Mass. Farms. You shouldn't have to go that far, and certainly not out of state. I'm partial to Bongi's in Duxbury. Close to Rte 3 at exit 10 I think. All-natural free range for around $3. I may try a local Cape Cad farm, Miss Scarletts Blue Ribbon Farm, who has heritage birds this year for $5 lb to see if there's really a difference.

                            2. if you are in the Merrimack Valley, Elm Turkey Farm offers fresh turkeys. Definitely need to be ordered ahead

                              Elm Turkey Farm (no website)
                              298 Arlington St Dracut, MA 01826
                              (978) 452-4444

                              1. Getting my turkey from the same place I've been getting it for years..Raymond's Turkey Farm in Methuen. I am spoiled by their quality.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: BlueMagic

                                  Raymond's is the spot for my Christmas turkeys if I have one. Though, I think for Thanksgiving, the quality of Trader Joe's turkeys are excellent for the $1.99/lb that they charge (as of last year). They only sell whole turkeys during thanksgiving, and they are gone til the following year as soon as its no more than a few days past the holiday.

                                2. Mayflower taking orders: 2.99 a pound, 12 -30 pounds available, fresh coming up from South Carolina so not from local.

                                  1. Owens Poultry Farm on Central Avenue in Needham is a great family run source for turkeys

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: bluerib

                                      I have gone to Owens in the past and do know that they try to source as much of their stock locally. Actually knew someone in Sherborn who raised some of their Thanksgiving stock. Not sure of teir price range as i have not hosted Birdday in several years.

                                      The place is a madhouse on the three days before the holidays but it runs like a clock. Even with lines out the door you end up with your bird in short order. I have only ever payed cash and that speeds things along.

                                      One needs to sign up ahead of time and not sure what their cutoff day is but it must be looming.

                                      Address: 585 Central Ave, Needham, MA 02494
                                      Phone:(781) 444-1861

                                      They have excellent locally raised ducks also

                                    2. I just ordered mine this morning from the New England Meat Market in Peabody. Fresh turkeys from NH. Not sure about the price, but they are always very reasonable.