By Analiese Paik
Heritage turkeys sold at retail – in stores and online – are raised in California by Bill Niman’s BN Ranch and Mary’s Free Range Turkey, and Frank Reese’s Good Shepard Poultry Ranch in Kansas. These turkeys are excellent choices for discerning turkey eaters without the time and inclination to hunt down a locally raised, heritage bird on Local Harvest. This year, I’m excited to share a source for local, organic heritage turkeys right here in Fairfield County.
On the Rocks Farm in Newtown raises chickens, ducks and turkeys organically. Farmer Bill Pieragostini raised 75 Bourbon Reds and Standard Bronze this year, half of which are sold to regular customers and shoppers at the Greenwich Farmers’ Market where the farm is a vendor. Heritage turkeys run $6 a pound and vary in weight from 12 to 20 pounds, much smaller than industrial Broad-Breasted Whites. They’re leggier too with less breast meat and overall more dark meat.
Heritage turkey breeds are more flavorful too and cook much faster than store-bought turkeys. Be prepared; your turkey could cook in 2-3 hours unstuffed. The consensus seems to be that these turkeys should be roasted for a short amount of time at high temperatures, without basting ( which lowers the oven temperature each time you open the door). I recommend taking a look at Local Harvest’s cooking guide along with Martha Stewart’s (ignore the roasted turkey photo in her recipe; it’s a Broad-Breasted White).
Heritage turkeys are listed in Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste, a catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction. By eating these foods, we ensure that farmers will continue to raise them and preserve their unique, all-but-forgotten flavors.
How to Order
Call Farmer Bill Pieragostini at 203-837-7781 and let him know which turkey you’d like to order (Bourbon Reds or Standard Bronze), what size, and put a $40 deposit on your credit card so he can put your name on one of turkeys. If you are a Greenwich Farmers’ Market shopper, visit him in person to fill out a turkey order form and place your deposit. Personally, I wouldn’t wait that long.
How to Pick Up
When you order your turkey, Bill will ask for your phone number so he can call you the evening before the turkeys will be delivered to give you a reminder and arrange a pick up time and location. Arrange to meet him the next day, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, at the Shell Gas Station near the Arch Street Exit on I95 in Greenwich between noon and 1 pm to pick up your turkey and pay your balance. If that is not convenient to you, he will make a detour on his way to Greenwich along either the Merritt or I95 (between Greenwich and Bridgeport only) to deliver your turkey to you.