I’m taking next Tuesday off. And here’s my excuse: I have to drive to Western Massachusetts to pick up my Thanksgiving turkey! And not only is this allowed—it’s encouraged! I’ll be picking up my organic, free-range, heritage-breed Bourbon Red at my friend Dominic’s farm in Sheffield, MA.
Heritage breeds are livestock breeds that have been traditionally raised by farmers but have fallen out of favor with the rise of industrial agriculture, which tends to select one breed for uniformity, transportability, and production. What’s missing is that all-important quality: FLAVOR. I’m looking forward to the challenge of preparing this bird as heritage breeds are a lot different from your standard mass-produced Butterball. For one, their genetics haven’t been so manipulated by industrial agriculture that they actually retain a distinct, delicious flavor; they haven’t been bred to be so busty that they can’t stand on their own two feet; and they can still procreate on their own (if you don’t understand that last reference, you’ve got to read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle!).
I’ve been doing a bit of research and have found that I can expect intense flavor and more dark meat. But I’ll have to be sure to brine the bird to keep it moist, since pastured-raised turkeys will have less fat. I’m thrilled to start planning the rest of my menu, which I’m hoping to source from my CSA and a few local farms. If you’re planning a killer family farmer meal too, make sure you check out our Homegrown Thanksgiving contest!