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We have our Spanish explorer friends to thank for bringing Turkeys back from their expeditions into the Americas somewhere in the sixteen hundreds where these birds were native. However, they never really gained true acceptance and popularity until around the middle of the eighteen hundreds.

Turkeys have been through many transformations since that time and many of them not for the good, but they have still maintained their place as the most popular centrepiece of most families’ festive tables. Thankfully today there are more enlightened farmers that have gone back to breeding the more traditional dark-feathered varieties of turkeys which have so much more flavour. These birds apparently lost favour due to having dark a few dark feather stubs when plucked; so much sacrificed in flavour just for appearance.

So, let’s look at the turkeys we will sell at Barbecoa Butchery. Like everything we do, as well as the quality, husbandry and welfare are also high on our agenda. So here’s the unashamed plug: we go for the best (in my mind) and that is Paul Kelly’s Bronze traditional bird. It really is the ultimate in flavour, succulent and moist; a real flashback to how turkey used to taste. Kelly’s have also won more awards for their birds than I’ve got fingers and toes. They are slowly grown to maturity over months and fed from locally sourced cereals without growth promoters or drugs. They are also Essex birds – Danbury in fact – so the food miles to London are not huge, another thing we value highly.

So, what can we offer to you and the family, apart from starting with the best whole birds available that have a weight range from 4 to 12 kilos, we will also do a range of crowns for the lovers of white meat only, although for me the dark meat on the thighs is the sweetest, stickiest, moistest treat of the whole bird. As an artisan butcher we will also bone and roll your bird, and if you want come in and choose your favourite stuffing, we will put that in too.

We are already taking orders in the shop, and I can feel the buzz starting to happen (I love this). Get a Christmas order right and make it special and you will have a follower for life.

Keep your eyes peeled for my next blog piece about some of the other wonderful stuff we do for those of you who prefer not to have turkey for Christmas.

See all Jamie’s turkey recipes for more ideas.

About the author

I used to love going into the butchers when I was a kid. I remember the smell of the sawdust and watching the butchers cut a great big steak off of a rump, and being fascinated. I've been a butcher since I was at school and started working for my childhood sweetheart’s father in his butchery. Before that I'd always wanted to be a zookeeper and work with animals! In 1986 I won the Welsh Lamb Butcher of the Year award and got to give a presentation to Margaret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street, which is a definite career highlight. I’ve always worked with quality meat but never with beef that’s been hung for as long as it is at Jamie's Barbecoa, where I now work. Our dry-ageing and the fact that we're so selective about what we sell makes our products special. I haven't yet seen a single bit of meat that I wouldn't want to sell and it’s such a buzz when customers come back and tell me how good last night’s meal was. There’s quality throughout the range – it’s good being an ambassador for that.

Steve West's blog

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