Special to the Valley Community Newspapers
Taylor’s Market knows how to talk turkey to their Land Park, Curtis Park and Sacramento customers. This local butcher and grocer has been selling Thanksgiving turkeys for 50 years, and recently made Sunset magazine’s list of “Top 50 local food stores” in the magazine’s October issue. Owner and head butcher Danny Johnson says Taylor’s Market began putting the spotlight on local turkeys almost 20 years ago.
Johnson explains, “We’ve been selling locally grown, free-range turkeys from Branigan Farms in Woodland for close to 20 years. We are the largest retail outlet for Branigan, and we sell their turkeys year-round. We always have Branigan turkey breast in our meat case, and it’s the turkey we use in our sandwiches as well.” Taylor’s Market also sells Mary’s Heritage Turkeys, free-range Narragansett and Bourbon Red turkeys in limited quantities. Taylor’s meat counter offers smoked Branigan turkeys as well as a stuffed turkey breast with prosciutto, roasted tomatoes and basil.
Taylor’s Market will sell 500-600 turkeys this Thanksgiving, which given the size of the market is amazing. According to Johnson, “We don’t have room for them all, and everyone wants to pick up their turkey a day or two before Thanksgiving. We lease a 30-foot refrigerated trailer from a local company just to store turkeys.” He says every turkey has a number and a name on it, with extra turkeys for walk-up customers who didn’t order in advance. “At Branigan Farms, they feed their turkeys longer than the industry standard, so there is a little layer of fat between the skin and flesh that makes them self-basting. You just let the turkey cook in its own natural juices.”
Branigan Turkey Farm was established in 1942, and their family owned operation raises 18,000 to 20,000 turkey each year. Most turkeys are processed at 16 weeks, and while they are considered mature at that age, Branigan believes the only way to raise a quality bird is to raise their turkeys to 25 to 27 weeks. Besides being raised for quality flavor and value (more meat per bone), Branigan Turkeys are also processed for the same. Every bird has all fine pin feathers removed and the giblets and neck are properly packaged and stored in the turkey cavity. Branigan Turkeys are chilled with ice before final packaging.
Johnson says the brining trend is still in full swing this year. “Brining replaced the deep-fried turkey trend of several years ago. Brining helps make the turkey more moist and adds a certain amount of flavor. We sell brining kits with everything you need, including a food-grade bucket.” He recommends roasting your turkey breast down. “That allows the fat in the turkey back to baste the breast. Unless you’re planning to stage Norman Rockwell’s painting, Freedom from Want, you are probably not going to carve the turkey at the table. Even then, you can turn the turkey over for the last 45 minutes of roasting, or just brown the breast with a torch. When you bring it out of the oven, you’ll want to tent the turkey for 30 minutes to an hour to retain the juices.”
As for carving, Johnson says, “The only part of the turkey you’re going to carve is the breast. Most chefs and home cooks will pick it apart with their fingers.”
Johnson adds, “Everyone has turkey for Thanksgiving because of the pilgrims. Thanksgiving celebrates our American heritage. And that means turkey with all the trimmings.” Taylor’s Market offers Thanksgiving sides a la carte (order early, quantities are limited), including: mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, candied yams, traditional stuffing, cornbread stuffing, creamed spinach, cranberry relish and green beans. Customers can also order pies (Apple, Pumpkin, Chocolate Bourbon Pecan, Sweet Potato Meringue and Pear-Cranberry Crumble) as well as assorted cookie platters, s’mores cupcake platters, holiday brunch breads and savory quiches from Taylor’s Pastry Kitchen.