BY PATRICK KILCHERMANN
LAST YEAR’S TURKEY
Last year I threw a Friendsgiving in early November.
I rented a private event space in the in the historic village of Bowens Mills, near Caledonia, MI. A decorator was hired, and I roped in a friend of mine to cook the most important part of the meal: the turkey.
I was not, however, about to serve a conventional turkey.
My wife and I always buy our meats and produce at the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market (one of the best farmers markets in the country, I’m told). We want that personal connection with where our food’s coming from–wholesome, nutritious, local food.
I called one of our favorite farmers at the market to see if he had any turkeys available in early November, and it turns out he did!
It was a pasture-raised turkey with no growth hormones or antibiotics.
Now, up until this Thanksgiving, my in-laws always cooked the turkey which they bought at the grocery store, so this would be the first time I’ve ever had a pasture-raised turkey.
And I can honestly say it was the best turkey I’ve ever eaten!
THIS YEAR’S TURKEY
For this year’s Friendsgiving, however, I tried something different.
It was a heritage turkey from Idle River Farms. It’s a small family-run farmstead in Burlington, MI.
Like last year’s turkey, it was pasture-raised, GMO-free, and free of antibiotics. Unlike last year’s turkey, it was a heritage turkey.
Now, as I understand it, heritage turkeys come from breeds that grow very slowly. They’re hard to get your hands on since there are few farms willing to grow them–even the farms at the Fulton Street Market. But, they are supposedly the best-tasting turkeys money can buy, so I thought, “Why not?”
Matt and Kristal are the farmers over at Idle River. They sell their turkeys exclusively through an online heritage farmers’ market (Duba & Co.) based in Grand Rapids, MI, which ships their turkeys pretty much anywhere in the country.
I left the cooking of the turkey up to one of my friends (the same friend that cooked it last year).
And, I’ve gotta tell you, this turkey surpassed even last year’s pasture-raised bird!
In fact, it’s like it’s an entirely different species of meat, deserving a category all its own. It’s hard to describe, but it’s kind of like going from eating fish sticks your whole life to eating lobster. It was quite literally “the turkey your grandmother hopes you never taste.” (“You won’t let me drive, and now you won’t let me cook the turkey!? You might as well put me in a nursing home.”)
My only disappointment was that there were no giblets in the gravy (I guess the turkey didn’t come with giblets).
You will end up paying more for a heritage turkey…quite a bit more. On the other hand, it’s not much more than what we already pay for a pound of grass-fed ground beef. But if you can swing it, it’s worth every penny.