We at Eat Something Sexy feel confident in our skills at roasting a Thanksgiving bird, but there’s always a thing or two to be learned. So we asked our favorite farmer in the bird world, Jim Reichardt of Sonoma County Poultry (aka the Duck Man–you may be familiar with his Liberty Ducks) to weigh in before we tackle this year’s Thanksgiving feast.
Seeking, selecting and serving a great Holiday bird from heritage turkey to Liberty Duck
ESS: Organic poultry, free range, hormone free?
Duck Man: Ok, hormone free… first, no poultry has hormones added by law. The ones that advertise [hormone free] are making an empty statement. Maybe it’s a good thing to keep saying it as education – as long as you aren’t saying you are special because of it.
Organic poultry is always a good thing. The word doesn’t mean the poultry is not raised in a non-confinement situation although you would ideally think of the organic movement being some mom and pop with chickens in the back yard. It could refer simply to Tyson or Perdue or Foster Farms feeding organic feed. Again, that is a good thing. It lessens the amount of chemicals on the fields.
Free range stated on a label means that the birds have access to the outdoors, not that they necessarily go outdoors. It may be that the birds do spend a substantial amount of time outdoors, but the requirements don’t insist on it. The commercial birds raised free range may not go out very much if at all. There are other varieties of chickens, heritage breeds, with a ranging mentality now coming into the market.
ESS: You’ve obviously cooked your share of birds. Any hints on roasting Turkey or duck?
Duck Man: I don’t believe in cooking it as long as they [recipes] say you have to. All those nasty things are on the surface, so get the surface over 140 and you are fine. People don’t like raw chicken, but somewhere in between [raw and thoroughly cooked] is fine – sort of like med/med rare pork. Last case of trichinosis in this country? Last totally dead person from a piece of pork?…
ESS: What’s your Holiday bird? Turkey? Duck? Turducken?
Duck Man: No turducken! Well, do it once to say you did. If you want to do a bird, heritage turkey is the answer, from http://www.slowfoodrr.org in conjunction with 4-H. It’s pretty cool.
Duck is not what I think of as a bird for Thanksgiving dinner although I have some customers that swear by it. I’m more of a crab (crack your own) guy.
ESS: For our readers who need a break from the big gobbler, where can the home cook buy your Liberty Ducks?
Duck Man: http://www.libertyducks.com for your duck needs. I ship to individuals.
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