In July I had the opportunity to visit and tour Carolina Bay Farms, where I met owners James and Sharon Helms. I knew shortly after this visit, this was where my Thanksgiving Turkey was coming from.
Carolina Bay Farms raises heritage breed chickens, to include single comb Rhode Island Reds, Buckeyes, Jersey Giants, Russian Orloff, and Orpingtons. Other poultry include Standard Bronze Turkeys, Rouen Ducks, Pharoah Quail, and Guinea Fowl. Their pigs are American Guinea Hogs and they also have a pair of milking goats.
So, finally, here it is! It's Thanksgiving Day, and I was ready to roast the BEST turkey we've ever eaten. Although heritage breeds cook a bit differently, and a bit faster than conventional turkeys, the true test was going to come as this turkey was roasted, carved and eaten ... it didn't disappoint, and in fact, exceeded my expectations.
1 Standard Bronze Heritage Turkey
1 Herbed Butter Rub for Poultry
2 stalks of celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
1 quart turkey or chicken stock
Salt and pepper
One day prior to roasting, rinse turkey well, removing any giblets. Loosen skin on breast being careful not to tear it, and rub Herbed Butter Rub for Poultry under the skin, covering as much of the breast as you can. Wrap turkey with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
On the day of roasting, Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove turkey from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature 30 minutes.
Using your hands, rub the entire outside of the turkey with olive oil and dust skin with salt and pepper.
Place chopped celery, carrots and onions on the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place a v-rack inside the roasting pan and place turkey on top of the rack.
Pour 4 cups of turkey stock into the pan and roast turkey for 30 minutes at 425.
Reduce heat to 325 and continue roasting for approx. 10-15 minutes per pound (less time than a conventional turkey), or until turkey has an internal temperature of 160-165 in the thigh and around 160 in the breast. Juices should run clear. Let rest 20-30 minutes, tented with aluminum foil, before carving.
Note - This cooking method allowed to skin to brown and crisp nicely, while keeping the breast meat juicy and moist. Strain any remaining turkey stock from the pan, discarding the vegetables. Use the stock for gravy if desired.