When it comes to the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal, we swear by Willie Bird fresh turkeys. Because they’re shipped fresh, not frozen, the birds roast up golden brown on the outside, moist and tender inside — extraordinarily juicy and flavorful.
We talked to our food buyer, Brad Brown, to learn exactly what makes the Willie Bird turkeys so special. Read on, then plan ahead — we’ll have it shipped fresh to you from the farm.
What makes a Willie Bird turkey so special? Why did we choose their turkeys to sell?
It starts with the breed — we selected one with plenty of breast meat. It’s always important to look for free-range animals, but it’s especially important in the case of Willie Bird. These birds run up and down rolling hills, and the activity develops their muscles and flavor.
The birds will also eat insects, which contributes to their great flavor. Their all-natural diet is supplemented with grubs and other insects on the farm. Finally, they ship fresh, which means the freezing process won’t cause dryness or loss of flavor.
What are the differences between the Willie Bird turkeys we sell — free-range, organic and brined?
Free-range turkeys are standard birds, free to roam the hills of Sonoma, and fed an all-natural diet. Organic turkeys are also free-range, fed an organic diet, and brined turkeys are free-range birds brined with garlic and herbs. I love the brined birds because they are less work (also, sometimes it’s hard to find a vessel that’s large enough to brine a big turkey in overnight).
What’s the benefit to the customer in buying a Willie Bird turkey instead of one from their local market?
Typical grocery store birds are frozen, and their diets aren’t as high-quality — which translates to flavor loss. Also, free-range birds don’t spend their time in a barn, so they have lived better lives and developed more flavor in the meantime.
How will you be cooking your Willie Bird turkey this year?
I always like to brine my turkey. It adds moisture and flavor to the bird, and if you happen to leave them in the oven a little too long, brined birds can be very forgiving thanks to the extra moisture.
This year, I’m going to try a cider brine — I’m hoping that flavor profile will be one we use next year in our brined Willie Birds. I think the drippings from the cider flavored meat will make for a wonderful gravy.
Want more turkey recipes? Get them here.
Watch Willie Bird turkeys on the range, and meet the founders of Willie Bird.