It’s probably natural to ask yourself, after all is said and done, “ Is all this push towards ‘eat local' really worth it?” It’s often a little more expensive, it’s likely a little less convenient. It’s simple rounding up all the items on your shopping list at one big discount mega-mart—it’s open 24 hours a day, you can pick up more windshield wiper fluid at the same time, and you can probably even get away with shopping in your pajamas. Is it worth hunting down your local farmers to acquire your weekly needs? Am I just doing it because it makes me “feel good” inside?
I imagine that’s a question everyone must answer individually. But allow me to offer my two cents—when it comes to turkeys, buying local, from our own Freckle Face Farm is a very worthwhile investment.
This Thanksgiving, I was quite fortunate indeed to be treated to a 16-lb bird from Freckle Face. We were privileged to join Kevin Shalin (of The Mighty Rib) at his home this year and he decided we needed one of these birds on our table.
So, Monday evening before Thanksgiving, we met up with Mitchell Latture from Freckle Face in front of Pulaski Heights Baptist Church to pick up our freshly delivered bird (and when I say “we picked up,” I mean I sat in the comfortable, warm car while Kevin waited in line in the freezing rain for 15 minutes to obtain his purchase). This was to be the first “fresh” turkey I’d ever prepared or eaten. Most Americans, like me, probably grab their birds frozen from the grocery store, which of course, requires hours of thawing before they can be cooked. But not this time. Nothing frozen, freshly slaughtered, clean and beautiful—even dead, the thing just looked happier.
I took the turkey home and soaked it in a 24-hour brine seasoned with sea salt, juniper berries, apple, star anise, rosemary, lemon peel, garlic, rosemary, and thyme. Things were certainly starting off on the right foot.
After pulling from the brine, we were immensely fortunate to be gifted with the time and talents of our friend Steve Shuler—a man with skills in the kitchen that far exceed my own. He allowed me into his home on Thursday morning to prepare our bird in his deep fryer. This fryer was like nothing else I’d ever seen. The Waring Digital Rotisserie Turkey Fryer accepts surprisingly large birds considering its relatively compact nature, and it operates safely on your kitchen counter (you can see the thing in action below, after the jump). The clean, care-free device slowly turns your turkey in a vat of hot oil—rotisserie style—cooking the bird in a mere one hour. After the frying process was complete, Steve finished the bird with a bit of shaved sea salt, which melts nicely into the meat.
The results were magnificent, and I am not exaggerating when I say this was the best turkey I’ve ever eaten. The skin of the bird comes out delightfully crisp and a deep golden brown—achieving something you’ll never get from a conventional oven roast. The meat was juicy and tender and has a faint caramel-nutty flavor imparted by the peanut oil during the frying. The turkey was plump and healthy, allowing long, sizable slices to be served on everyone’s Thanksgiving plates.
The combination of a fantastic product, the perfect preparation, and great friends to share it with made this turkey one I will always remember. Is it worth going local? I certainly think so. And when it comes to exemplary meats, you will not find finer specimens than those at Freckle Face Farm. Visit them at various farmer’s markets around town, and pick up one out their products next time you want something special at your family feast.
Our bird bath...