Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turkeys - the repeat

In October 2010 I wrote a post about turkey. I'd spent a lot of time that summer learning about turkeys which culminated in Tastes Deli stocking Copas Turkeys for Christmas. Having sold these turkeys for the last two Christmases and received nothing but excellent customer feedback* I am more convinced than ever, that these birds are fantastic and for the third consecutive Christmas they will be available from Tastes Delicatessen. I thought it was about time I told you all about them again. So here is what I wrote way back in 2010!

Copas Turkeys, copyright Copas.While everyone else was planning for the BBQ summer, I was planning for Christmas; specifically what we were going to be stocking at Tastes. And while the BBQ summer didn't turn out to be as long or as summery as we'd hoped, I think Christmas is still on the cards.

One thing I learnt a lot about is turkey (the bird, not the place).
Did you know turkeys have a reputation for being dry and needing basting just because we eat immature birds with no fat?
Or that turkeys are game birds whose flavour and texture improves when they are left to hang?
Or that frozen birds are usually injected with water, which does nothing to improve the meat, but does make them heavier (and therefore more expensive)?
Or that "free-range" turkeys might only be outdoors for a few weeks towards the end of their lives?

Everything I've learnt points towards Copas turkeys being best for flavour, animal welfare and the environment, and those are the turkeys we will be selling this year.

The Copas family have been producing luxury turkeys in Cookham, Berkshire (less than 10 miles from Tastes) every year since 1957, when Tom Copas left school & raised his first flock for Christmas.

Nowadays Tom's three daughters & son are more involved in the family business on a day-to-day basis than he is, however the same care and artisan methods are still used and their turkeys have been acclaimed by TV celebrity chefs and discerning foodies alike; "fantastic" (The Hairy Bikers), "a king amongst turkeys" (Tom Parker-Bowles), "seriously pampered" (Daily Mail), "super & flavoursome" (Lydia Slater).

This year they have already scooped a national award for Health & Welfare in Poultry (Pig & Poultry Marketing Magazine Awards 2010), their Free Range Organic turkeys have been commended in the Organic Food Awards and their Free Range Bronze turkeys have been awarded Two Gold Stars in the Great Taste Awards. In the past, Rick Stein has listed the Copas family as one of his Food Heroes, Farmers Weekly named them Poultry Producer of the Year & their turkeys were short listed in the Daily Telegraph Best UK Food awards.

All Copas Turkey flocks are made up of naturally slow-growing breeds sourced from British hatcheries. Over twenty-five different varieties of traditional breeds have been selected for Christmas 2010 to provide both natural diversity and achieve a full range of beautifully finished adult birds, in all weight categories.

Turkeys are raised on a high quality cereal-based diet, rich in oats and free of growth promoters. Fully mature turkeys have the benefit of a deliciously dense meat, along with a natural fat layer under the skin which helps retain moisture whilst cooking - succulence without the need for basting!

In December, turkeys are dry-plucked by hand and hung like a game bird for two weeks in the old-fashioned way. This enables the rich, traditional flavours to develop fully, ensuring the finest taste and texture for Christmas day.

Each Copas turkey comes in its own carry-home box, complete with everything required to cook both the turkey (cooking instructions & a handy pop-up cooking timer) & the gravy (giblets, fresh rosemary & a traditional recipe) perfectly - no matter what your culinary experience.

* How amazing must the turkey be for customers to take a plate of Thanks Giving dinner (complete with pumpkin pie) to the deli they bought the bird from to say Thank You? How good must the turkey be for a customer to email the shop straight after Christmas lunch to tell them how happy they were? It probably helps that Tastes has the best customers a deli could hope for!