What is Thanksgiving without the turkey? As Fairway’s Chef de Cuisine Mitchel London would say, “It’s not Thanksgiving!” So the two of us made our way down to Koch’s Turkey Farm, in Mt. Pleasant Mills, Pennsylvania, to show you how we bring Murray’s turkeys from the farm to your table. At the farm we were greeted by Steve Gold from Murray’s and Duane Koch from Koch’s. With the farm only 200 miles from New York City our stores get daily deliveries ensuring you get a fresh bird.
Koch’s turkey farm is under their third generation of family ownership, and they raise about 750,000 turkeys a year. These aren’t just any turkeys — these are all-natural, antibiotic-free, vegetarian fed, and humanely-raised turkeys. The key phrase there is antibiotic-free. You need to see that on your all-natural label. While most turkey farms average 10 to 12 pounds of turkey per square foot in their turkey pens, Koch’s averages 7.5 pounds per square foot. These turkeys are able to roam freely around their pen, which translates into a better tasting and juicier bird with a broader breast.
A week before we left for the trip, Mitchel and I had heard on our radio show with WOR’s legendary Joan Hamburg that turkeys tend to be ornery, as is Mitchel, and Joan said Mitchel would feel right at home. I on the other hand was a little concerned before we went into the pens for a meet and greet. As part of Koch’s quality control, Mitchel and I had to put on special suits and hairnets, so there was no outside contamination brought into the pens. We visited the hens (female turkeys) first and surprisingly the birds were quite receptive and agreeable with us. I for one was under the impression that all turkeys “gobble” but was informed that hens, in fact “cluck.” They also have red heads as opposed to the toms’ (male turkeys) bluish heads. The hens at Koch’s do not get much bigger than 20 to 22 pounds, so most likely it will be a hen on your table for the holiday. After visiting the hens and approaching a separate pen housing the toms, Mitchel started gobbling at them, and they gobbled back in unison. To say the least, Mitchel was in his element. And of course, Mitchel couldn’t resist naming one of he birds “Howie” after my father, Fairway’s CEO.
It was truly an entertaining and educational trip, and if you would like to see both of our Thanksgiving farm trips, and all of our Thanksgiving recipes you can catch us on NBC’s LX.TV’s 1stLook on Saturday, November 12th, at 7:00 PM for a half-hour special From Farm to Fairway.
For a superb Thanksgiving feast, here are some turkey tips:
- Your turkey should be fresh, never frozen.
- Your turkey should be 6 to 7 pounds more than the number of people you are serving. That way there will be enough white meat to go around.
- Reserve your turkey ahead of time, so you’re not shopping at the last minute.
- The vacuum-sealed package should be tight around the turkey, not loose.
- An all-natural turkey is the best value you will find. You get many of the same benefits of an organic bird at a cheaper price.
- Once you purchase your turkey, it should be stored in the back of your fridge on the bottom shelf.
- Your turkey does not have to be served piping hot, it can be served warm. This way you can let the bird “rest” (sit on the carving board for 15 to 20 minutes) before you carve it. Everything else should be served hot, especially the gravy.
RESERVE YOUR FARM-FRESH TURKEY FROM FAIRWAY NOW!
TELL US: What’s your favorite way to prepare Thanksgiving turkey?