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Nov 1, 2013 04:57 PM

Turkey time

In the past, have used Empire, Mary's, Diestal, etc.

Read up about Branigan's & others - worth the price? Organic worth the price? Also, anyone know where to get excellent homemade-like gravy from storefront, restaurant, etc? Thanks....

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    1. Slow Food Russian River Valley + Sonoma County 4H have their annual collaboration offering heritage breed turkeys raised by local kids. Ordering info here,

      Here's my photo set from 2011 taking part in the turkey transformation, sacrificing and dressing the heritage birds.

      1. idtoca, I hope you don't my sharing my research here, but it seemed apt. :) I don't know what I'm doing this year, but this is what I've got:

        Mary's Organic - $4.59
        Mary's Free Range - $3.19
        "Andronico's Brand" raised by Pitman Farms, producers of Mary's Chicken and Turkeys. - $2.59
        Mary's Heritage - they're not sure if they will be ordering the heritage as they apparently didn't sell last year.

        Whole Foods Natural - $2.59
        Diestel Natural Hens/Toms - $2.59
        Diestel Organic - $3.99
        Diestel Heirloom - $4.99
        Diestel Pasture Raised - $5.99

        CAFÉ ROUGE
        BN Ranch - $6.25

        TAYLOR’S MARKET (overnight mail order or pick up in Sacramento)
        Branigan’s - looks like between $4.30 and $5 a lb. depending on the size you choose.

        KRISTINA’S NATURAL MARKET (mail order or in person if you happen to live in the Fresno area

        MAGNANI – I know they’re going to have Mary’s and Fulton Valley, but haven’t called.

        TAYYIBAAT (Milpitas) – They have been looking for halal turkeys, haven’t found any, yet. All the halal markets usually get a brand called Turkey Valley Farms which I believe is from several farms in the Midwest, but Tayyibaat usually had an organic option. In any case, I called them not for the halal turkey (I’ve reclaimed Thanksgiving and am planning on pouring bourbon all over my turkey this year), but more because they’re just really good people and care about the products they’re selling.

        6 Replies
        1. re: adrienne156

          Nugget in Vacaville - $3.99/lb.
          Andronico's - $4.99/lb. special order.
          Olivier's in SF - $5.15/lb.

          1. re: adrienne156

            Really conflicting info on the Branigan's turkeys floating around.

            Some reviews call them heavy on dark meat....others describe them as broad breasted whites, which I think is what the company claims.

            The ones I've seen looked very small for their stated weight, but maybe once it's out of the bag they shape up?

            1. re: sugartoof

              I'll let you know on Sunday. I've got a house full of dark meat eaters and got drawn in by RW's comments about her Branigan's from last year.

                1. re: sugartoof

                  Looks like a broad breast to me. Good looking bird, too.

                  1. re: adrienne156

                    Thanks for the follow up. Hope there was enough for the dark meat eaters. Happy to hear it's good for us white meat eaters.

        2. I bought a Turkey Valley Farms halal turkey last year for less than $2 per pound from Indus Markets on San Pablo in Berkeley. It was excellent. Am wondering what people think about the Diestels. I like their approach, and that they're local. I'd probably buy their "natural" hen from Whole Foods, given my budgetary constraints. ;o)

          18 Replies
          1. re: giacomantonia

            Diestel's so big and raises birds so many different ways that I don't feel like I know what I'm buying, except maybe for those birds with GAP 5+ certification.


            "Natural" is a meaningless term and I'm wary of any company that uses it.

            1. re: giacomantonia

              Agree with Robert. Attempting to crack the Diestel code to order a turkey has never paid off for me.

              I've had Diestel in sandwiches that I like, but I'd guess it was the low end. I tried a Whole Foods Diestel a few years back, that they upgraded for us because they didn't have our weight class we had pre-ordered (WF basically admitted there was no difference), and frankly, the thing came out kinda rubbery, and boring. It was one of those birds that just doesn't cook up right without a lot of fussing. It made for good sandwiches, but we've avoided them since. At the time though, people were still talking about Diestel like it was something special so we expected a really nice turkey. As a cheapish alternative to Safeway options, I think it's fine.

              You might also look at that generic Andronico's/Mary's one for the same price.

              1. re: sugartoof

                Cheapish alternative to Safeway? Safeway options cost MORE than Diestal at Whole foods?

                1. re: Shrinkrap

                  What's the confusion? I'm saying buying a WF Diestel is a fairly cheap alternate option instead of buying whatever junk they sell at Safeway or Lucky's.

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    Sorry, but I AM confused, or maybe just discouraged. We have no Whole Foods in my city or those adjoining. I THINK you are saying I could spend my "whole paycheck" at Lucky or Safeway, for a lesser product, or drive 40+ miles to Whole Foods.

                    : (

                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                      I was replying to giacomantonia who was already considering the Whole Food's Diestel. I don't think it's worth driving 50 miles for, no.

                      Since you live near Turkey Farms, I think you should take advantage of that. How is the Branigan farm turkey anyway? Would love to hear your experiences.

                      To clarify, Whole Foods cheapest turkey is reported at $2.49 which is a bargain for what it is, but it's not a budget priced turkey. Safeway and Lucky's will sell turkeys from between 99 cents and $3.00 per pound depending on the year, and which turkey. Some of them make for great turkeys, they're just usually pumped up full of chemicals, and factory processed so the turkeys getting discussed here are leaning towards hormone free, organic type birds, sold at locations convenient to the Bay Area.

                      1. re: sugartoof

                        The Safeway ad had free range turkeys for $1.99/lb, which supposedly means no hormones, antibiotics or additives. Wonder who the source is.

                        1. re: ML8000

                          In the Safeway ad, it says the free range turkeys are Fresh Open Nature (TM)--whatever that is.

                          1. re: ML8000

                            I don't believe free range implies anything else, and it doesn't even mean what it sounds like.

                            1. re: ML8000

                              I wouldn't be entirely shocked if it turned out to be Diestel. Could also be one of the biggies like Foster Farms created a line to compete.

                              The supermarkets also sometimes get what look to be small private farmed turkeys that will turn out to be a Foster Farms subsidiary from what used to be a family owned operation.

                      2. re: Shrinkrap

                        $2.59 for a Diestel is actually a very decent price. Diestels are local, sustainably raised, and not injected with saline solution like your standard $.99/lb. grocery store turkey.

                        1. re: adrienne156

                          Okay, that makes sense. So I should not be driving 40-60 miles for a Whole Foods? That would really suck, since I probably live closer to some of these turkey farms than I do to WF. Branigans farm is definitely closer than WF. I was also wondering if I should I be looking for Diestal at less per pound than the Lucky and Safeway options. Sounds like not.

                          For the record,I don't care so much what I spend ( I can afford that attitude living in the hinterlands!). I just want to make the best choice among the options available to me.

                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                            Nonono! Don't drive to WF. I would definitely hit up the turkey farms near you before I drove an hour to "Whole Paycheck" (their relatively low turkey prices actually surprised me this year). You'll definitely get the best price buying directly from the farms. Branigans is in Woodland, so are you in that general area? If you want to go the grocery store route, there are Nugget Markets near you.

                            Really, the turkey you should get boils down to what's important to you - organic, free-range, broad-breast, heritage, blah, blah, blah. You can spend anywhere from $.99/lb. to $10/lb. I've been slowly making my way through the different brands by reading these boards over the years and found that I really like Mary's, but decided to switch it up the last couple of years. I had a BN Ranch turkey last year that I paid an arm and a leg for and while I know other Hounds have had great success, it was the first turkey that I just totally clobbered. Combination of mishandling before I got it and then a major case of user error. Poor turkey.

                            If price were not an issue for me, I would get one of the Sonoma County 4H birds Melanie mentions above. I think they're $7.50/lb. this year. I doubt you could find a better treated turkey.

                            1. re: adrienne156

                              Nugget Market, then Thanks. Diestal or Branigan. And maybe a Willie Bird too, just in case.

                              1. re: Shrinkrap

                                I ended up with an almost sixteen pound Willie Bird, currently dry brining "a la Judy". 4 people. Gulp.

                                1. re: Shrinkrap

                                  How did it go last year with the Willie Bird?

                                  1. re: adrienne156

                                    I don't remember. I vaguely remenber overcooking it a bit. This year I am cooking in ATL.