It’s only 14 days before the Butterball 24-hour Turkey Talk-line opens up for 2011 and over 200,000 calls flood in. It’s only a matter of weeks before everyone has turkey on their minds (heck, it’s already on mine), but I’m going to challenge everyone to try something new this year. Instead of buying that frozen store turkey that is already “plumped” up with salt water (and who knows what else), buy a local farm raised pasture turkey. Sure, it may cost a bit more money and be a bit more work, but it is well worth every penny and hour spent.
My husband and I made the switch several years ago. We lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 8 Thanksgivings and for many of those, we bought our turkeys from Willie Bird Turkeys in Sonoma, CA. Since that time, Willie Bird was listed as one of Oprah’s favorite things and they can now be ordered through Willams-Sonoma and can be purchased at many specialty grocery stores…a bit too “commercial” for us, but nonetheless a very good natural turkey.
Last year, we bought our turkey from Jay McPherson over at Tiny’s Organic farm in East Wenatchee, WA. It was the first year that Jay raised turkeys and he raised eight different varieties of domestic and heritage turkeys. Did you know there were 8 different varieties of turkeys? I sure didn’t, but since I had to choose “my turkey”, I had to study up. In the end, I chose a simple, familiar, domestic turkey called a broad-breasted Bronze. The “Bronze” had been the most popular turkey in American History, but waned in popularity in the mid 20th century.
After the turkey was chosen, it was time to plan the recipe. We went back to an old standby that has treated us well from the Virtual Weber Bullet website. It’s called Whole Turkey – Apple Brine and it consists of a 24-hour brine and then an overnight of resting in the fridge uncovered. The latter is a very important step as the dehydration of the fridge helps create a very crispy skin during cooking.
The final result is a delicious, juicy and very flavorful smoked turkey. We will never go back to buying a frozen store turkey and baking it in the oven. If I remember correctly, we even had to smoke in a snow storm last year.
Good Luck and Happy Smoking!
Note: Unfortunately, Tiny’s Organic is taking a year off of raising turkeys and we are going to have to shop elsewhere. If you are in the Seattle area, I’ve heard that Ebey Farm is raising some domestic and heritage turkeys over in the Snoqualmie Valley. Call early to reserve!