My mother taking great delight with the finished turkey.
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It brings up so many fond memories, most of them of my mother cooking the turkey dinner and taking great pride and delight when it all finally came together so beautifully.
My mother would always buy the largest turkey possible, generally 22-24 pounds. If I remember correctly, she would be up at 6 a.m. and spend the better part of Thanksgiving Day tending to the bird, checking and basting it every 30 minutes. It seemed to take an eternity for it to cook, but when the bird was done, it was always well worth the wait.
Today turkeys require much less attention. They’re self-basting, with automatic timers, injected with oils and fats and bred and fed to grow larger and meatier. To have a turkey like those my mother used to prepare today, a local organic bird is the way to go.
Wikipedia defines organic foods as those "that are produced using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, do not contain genetically modified organisms, and are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.”
With the launch of this website I’ve become more aware of the many wonderful local organic food suppliers in Fauquier County. And with this column, I hope to raise readers’ awareness as well.
One of these suppliers is my friend Lindsey Dengel’s husband Florian. Many of you know her as Lindsey Lawrence. Florian and his cousin Timm Bever just started a poultry business in Markham about a year and a half ago with just a couple of chickens. It’s named B&D Poultry Farms LLC for Bever and Dengel. They are one of eight organic poultry farms in Fauquier.
In August I had noticed on Facebook that Lindsey was offering free eggs for the asking and couldn’t imagine where she was getting them. Eventually I learned they were part of the new venture.
Aside from the eggs and chickens, I learned they also raise Heritage Turkeys, the Standard Bronze breed, which look much like the wild turkeys in this area. It being less than three weeks until Thanksgiving, I thought I’d test one before the big day.
The turkey I bought was just dressed (processed) the day before I cooked it, which is the freshest turkey I believe I've ever had.
Before taking delivery of my organic turkey, I researched the heck out of cooking one. The last thing I wanted to do was ruin it. I learned that organic, free-range turkeys are much leaner, due to their natural diets and roaming space. They are said to cook more quickly as well.
After reading countless articles, I asked friends for advice. My friend Marshall Doeller would surely know how to cook one. He’s from a family of game hunters (third generation that I know of) and anyone with that much history of hunting fowl has to know. His advice was simple; “cook it slow and low and keep it moist.”
Well, I followed Marshall’s advice and it worked perfectly. I was concerned the entire time it was cooking, but as it turned out, it was the best turkey I’ve eaten since I was a young girl, much like the turkeys my mother used to roast. It was moist and tender and had lots of flavor. I hope you’ll give it a try.