Serving Up 2800 Turkeys
Thanksgiving is still three weeks away, but at Good Eggs, we’ve been planning for it since January. This year, we’re welcoming almost 3000 turkeys into our warehouse—it’s a fascinating journey from the farm to your fridge, so read on for all the details.
How we plan for your plate
Because we work with small producers across the Bay Area, we need to plan large orders far in advance. Birds for November have to be hatched in April or May. Our team huddles and does a “turkey forecast” to determine the number of birds we’d like to order, and from which farmers.
Where we source our birds
“When we’re looking for a turkey producer, we start with breed,” says Rachel Sanchez, our meat category leader. This year we’re sourcing broad-breasted bronze birds (say that five times fast) from Diestel Turkey, Mary’s via Pitman Family Farms, and Keller Crafted Meats. We’ll also have a select number of heritage birds from Oz Family Farm.
“Broad-breasted whites are the most common turkeys, but bronze is richer in terms of flavor and moisture,” Sanchez explains. “Heritage birds are even more flavorful—they’re older breeds that haven’t been crossed with modern birds, and their meat is much darker. Almost similar to pheasant.”
Our strict sourcing standards help those rich flavors shine: we only work with farms that treat their birds humanely. First, we look for places where turkeys are fed an all-vegetarian diet. Then Sanchez reviews their living conditions.
Overcrowding is a huge issue with your typical turkey production. “You might have 20,000 birds in a single barn,” Sanchez explains, “whereas our producers will only house 5,000 in a similar space. Some of our producers are even completely pastured, meaning the turkeys spend their whole lives outside, scratching and rooting. That natural behavior results in muscle and fat that leads to moist, delicious birds.”
Pastured birds have their own unique challenges—especially the heritage birds, who can fly! But for our producers, that’s a small price to pay for keeping these beautiful, rare older breeds alive.
“It brings us so much satisfaction to know that each turkey we hatch upholds a taste and a breed that our ancestors would have had access to, “ says Kelly Osman, of Oz Family Farm.
How a turkey goes from farm to fridge
Both fresh and frozen birds will arrive to your door pretty chilly, says Sanchez.
“We keep all our turkeys in a special trailer at a very specific temperature to ensure freshness,” she says. “Our fresh turkeys will arrive with a hard chill to keep them that way—so if your fresh turkey shows up with a frozen crust, that’s how it should be!”
At your typical grocery store, frozen turkeys may have been processed as long ago as April. But our fresh and frozen birds will just be 6-12 days off of the farm. Just remember to leave time for defrosting when you place your order.
Turkey tips and alternatives
88% percent of Americans serve up a classic turkey on Thanksgiving Day, according to the National Turkey Federation. But we know it’s nice to have options.
“We’ll be selling RoliRoti’s Turketta. It’s a hand-rolled and tied boned turkey breast stuffed with spices. Super easy to roast and carve, and makes an elegant centerpiece. It’s a great option if you’re hosting a smaller dinner for 6 to 8 people,” says Sanchez.
Other poultry alternatives include duck, and of course, organic chicken. (Attempting to build your own three-bird turducken? We’ve got the raw materials covered—and recommend adding a sausage stuffing to really take things over the edge).
For those looking to go beyond the bird, ham is a popular choice. Our whole animal program with Keller Crafted Meats means we strive to use the entirety of their choice, black angus hogs—we’ve been saving the ham legs for Thanksgiving and Keller will be smoking them with special spices and woods, just for us.
And, of course, some of us skip the meat altogether. Field Roast’s Celebration Roast is grain-based and stuffed with all kinds of flavorful goodies like squash, mushrooms, and apples.
Even if you’re going traditional, you can shake things up: go for the bold flavor of Diestel’s smoked turkey—fully cooked over hickory and applewood, it has a unique, almost bacon-like taste and smell. Just reheat it to serve (and any leftovers will make a delicious soup!).
Another time-saving turkey options include our full Thanksgiving dinner, complete with a ready-roasted organic bird from Diestel. Our Head Chef, Chris Chapman, said it was the best turkey he’d ever tasted.
Even though we’re prepping plenty of premade turkeys, sides, and other time-savers, we know Thanksgiving is a holiday many people love spending in the kitchen. If you’re cooking a turkey yourself, here’s what Chapman recommends, based on the type you buy:
“If you’re deep frying, choose a broad breasted bird. It’ll hold up well to the hot oil. Whether you’re frying or roasting, I’d definitely recommend brining to make sure it’s nice and juicy: do a wet brine for roasting and a dry brine for frying.
For heritage birds, you really want to season lightly and do a classic oven roast to highlight the flavors. Because it’s already so moist, there’s no need to brine.”
Who’s hungry? If you can’t wait to get started, visit Good Eggs to preorder your turkey and other Thanksgiving items. You’d be surprised how quickly 2800 turkeys can fly the coop…!