Where to Nab a Last-Minute Heritage Bird, and Why You Should

Heritage Bourbon Red turkeys out for a stroll on Willow Ridge Farm in Putnam Valley, NY

Who’s got a heritage turkey for the table this year? Heritage birds being those once-forgotten, now-revived breeds like the Bourbon Red, Jersey Buff (not a Jersey Shore cast member), Black Spanish and Standard Bronze — in other words, not the Broad-breasted Whites that have become the norm since mass production and breed-weeding began in the ’60s.  The latter would be the top-heavy cousin of the pack, designed to fill the higher demand for breast meat (wait, no one else grabs for the thighs?) They also beef up quicker, reaching 32 pounds in just 18 weeks versus the standard 24 to 30. Heirloom breeds might come to selling size more slowly, but they are beautiful creatures in their own right, and a higher market for them would lead to greater biodiversity, making for a wider breadth of flavor for us. Not to mention a healthier stock, pun intended.

Still, it’s a little late to be giving you that spiel: New Yorkers planning their first Thanksgiving might be starting to find out it’s too late to nab a proper pedigreed bird, but we have, in fact, located some at City Bakery Catering, where, along with tasty, roasted sides of Greenmarket veggies, for $110 you can still reserve an 8-10-pounder to feed 4-6 ($125 if you want it cooked, and prices go up to $200 for an extra large turkey), but you must do so by Saturday! That’s less than 48 hours, people. Pick up is the night before (that’s November 24th by 6pm) at Birdbath Tribeca: 200 Church Street.

And, for next year, if you can manage a drive up to Putnam Valley, mail this form from Willow Ridge Farm and pick up one of the pretty, pasture-raised Bourbon Red birds shown above, sold at $7.50 a pound, which can be picked up the Sunday or Monday before Thanksgiving.

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