It’s that time of year again, and the decision to prepare your free-range turkey is upon us. So whether you’re a chef attempting to impress your family with your culinary skills or a hunter who prefers to acquire a bird the old-fashioned way, the following presents a means by which one can do so.
For those who want to avoid the rigmarole and labor intensive process of hunting and cleaning turkeys for Thanksgiving, one can always acquire their free-range option via a farmer. According to a report made by The Bulletin, an equine veterinarian Dr. Wendy Krebs is raising free-range turkeys and has reached the amount of around 50. She does have a pen for them, but she does let them out to wander about the property.
Krebs talked about how her first attempt and brood of turkey chicks she purchased were of the double breasted variety. Turns out she realized what “double breasted” meant as these are typically birds found in the local super market that are genetically modified to have twice the amount of breast meat.
“It was so sad. These (modern) turkeys were modified to have double the breast meat. So after three months, this turkey was crippled from his own weight. It could barely walk, and by the time we butchered it, the turkey weighed 55 pounds.”
That being said, she had decided another go around, but only this time acquired heritage turkeys where they follow the lifestyle in which they are suppose to lead. Other varieties of choice for Krebs were Bourbon Red and Chocolate turkeys. It’s notable that a heritage turkey provided the kind of look that Benjamin Franklin found appealing enough to suggest it as the nation’s bird.
“Right now, I have the heritage Bourbon Red turkeys and the Chocolate turkeys.”
Clarification was made by the Washingtonian that the term used, “heritage,” when referring to the turkeys, is not to assume that the it’s certified organic or genetically modified.
A heritage turkey typically differ than their industrial raised counter-parts that they have a different taste to their meat. It’s considered more dark and firm. Also, there’s a nice balance between white and dark meats.
“Heritage turkeys have firmer flesh and dark meat that’s well-exercised and collagen-rich.”
Heritage turkeys must be prepared in it’s own way to avoid drying out the breast. Three methods that are derived are from barding which, according to About Foods, entails layering or encasing the turkey with a layer of fat.
For the hunters out there with a sporting spirit, according to Ammo Land, it appears that it’s hunting season for free-range turkey starting tomorrow in Oregon and ends on December 31. A hunting license will also be required at $29.50 for adult residents and for children, $14.50. Also, a turkey tag costing $22.50 for adults and $10.50 for youngsters.
Keep in mind, an environment in Oregon that’s conducive to a free-range turkey would be in areas that provide seeding of the forest floor. This means any area of trees, usually oak varieties, that drop seed and/or mast (a Wikipedia reference for an accumulation of “fruits of the forest” gathered on the ground like acorns or nuts.) Such an environement for the forest floor provides a great area of foraging for the turkey. Also, keep an eye out for other varieties of trees such as dogwood, crab apple, and hawthorne.
Keep in mind, some of the best hunting locations for free-range turkeys would be on private land, so it would behoove hunters to approach the property owner to get permission as well as build relationships with the owner. For those who don’t have access to such acreage for turkeys, there areas in south-west Oregon that provide a suitable amount. Umpqua National Forest is a good pick for these free-range birds and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) regions that sit adjacent to private property in Rosenburg. I.e. – North Bank Habitat Area.
That all being said, for the sportsman or the healthy, culinary chef, what method are you using in order to prepare your free-range turkey for Thanksgiving?
[Photo by Yathin S Krishnappa/Wikipedia]