Free-range Turkey with Q-view

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by stephenh, Jan 27, 2011.

  1. stephenh

    stephenh Fire Starter

    I finally got around to smoking the free-range heritage breed turkey we purchased before Thanksgiving (family situations meant we were away for both Thanksgiving and Christmas). We had purchased it at the local farmer's market.

    This bird first went into brine for about six hours. For the brine, we used the recipe from Alton Brown's Good Eats Roast Turkey, episode # EASP01.  My wife had made a vegetable stock the day before, so it was good and fresh.

    Following the brining, I placed the aromatics, rosemary, and sage in the cavity and placed it breast side down on a rack. I decided that any juices would have a tendency to migrate toward the breast meat instead of the back. Since this would be for the two of us and not for company, the appearance was secondary to having better-tasting breast meat, so I did not mind having the rack's imprint on the bird.

    I set the smoker for 225 degrees and smoked with apple chips, adding more from time to time. I smoked it until it reached 170 degrees before removing it.

    My MES 30" electric smokehouse had just been retrofitted with the larger smoker pan so this was the first smoking with the "new" setup. It worked very well.  The turkey turned out very moist and delicious. I am not sure if the premium price for the turkey was worth it, but it did have a really good flavor.

    I didn't take any before shots, so here are just a couple of pictures of the finished bird:



    The back side had a more even color, like that which you can see on the lower part of the legs.

    Much of it went into the freezer for future meals.
  2. les3176

    les3176 Master of the Pit

    Nice looking bird!!
  3. waysideranch

    waysideranch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Please explain what free range birds means to you.  This title always cracks me up.  I ask the Executive Chef in a Colorado Spring eatery why his menu said free range eggs.  He didnt know the answer.  I wonder if our cattle are called free range since they are in pastures during the summer and winter months.  Maybe since we have fences they called pen raised.  Thanks. Just wondering.
  4. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Nice looking bird. Congrats!
  5. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Here ya go---Now you can raise your own:

    How to Raise Free Range Chickens

    By  Brooke Hart, eHow Contributor


    Things You'll Need:

    • Chicken coop
    • 2 to 5 acres of land
    • Chickens

    1. Set the space. Raising free range chickens means having space for them to roam. You will want to start by setting aside between 2 and 5 acres of land. This will be used for the chickens to roam on and will give them enough space to eat the bugs, plants and other things in the area.

    2. Build a chicken coop. Every chicken needs a little bit of shelter and a place to allow them to get out of the sun. You can build a small chicken coop to keep your hens and roosters in. You will want to put perches up on the coop, as well as laying areas for the hens so that they will have an option to where they put their eggs. Not only will this provide them shelter for the weather, but will stop them from being eaten if a predator comes along.

    3. Start raising the poultry. After you have the main parameters set up, raising free range chickens is as simple as getting healthy chics and watching them grow and roam. As you care for them, you will want to make sure that there are enough bugs and plants to eat, as well as water for them to drink in a small bowl. If you are uncertain of what they are eating, adding in some seeds to get them started will help them to stay healthy.

    Tips & Warnings

    • Monitor the land you are going to use by how many chickens you are going to get. If you are going to get five chickens, for instance, you won't need more than an acre of land. The idea is to give the chickens enough room to roam while making sure that they are in a comfortable area.

    • While free range chickens will usually stay close to where the shelter is, it is always an option to fence in the acres of land so the chickens don't wander too far.

    BTW: Nice looking Turkey Stephen!

    Last edited: Jan 27, 2011
  6. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looks Great...
  7. I don't know what "free range" means, but you can definitely tell that isn't one of those mass produced "Dolly Parton" birds we get at Winn Dixie.  It looks like a wild turkey. 
  8. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Now thats a good looking bird you have there.
  9. plj

    plj Meat Mopper

    IMO, "Organic" and "free range" are well worth it in principle, but in practice they are abused marketing labels.  Do some reading on modern poultry farming, then go visit one... or perhaps you had better not, you might end up raising your own!

    The turkey in your pics looks excellent, I'd say definitely worth it. Especially after the masterful smoke job  :)
  10. boykjo

    boykjo SAUSAGE MAKER Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Now I'm hungry again............ nice bird.......
  11. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Shucks, I guess the hardest thing about raising Free Range Turkeys and Chickens is Roundup time. Lost a couple ole pardners in the Great Turkey stampede of '98.

  12. coffee_junkie

    coffee_junkie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have 6 chickens, I consider them free range because I open the doors and let them out. an acre of land is not needed...they barely roam the whole half acre (unfenced) that I have. Most turkeys you see in the supermarket are raised in barns and never see the light of day. A free range turkey was raised on a pasture with a coop, and yes the taste is way different, almost like a wild bird.
  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    In case this interests anyone:

    Back in the 60s, when I was in high school, I used to help my Buddy and his family catch (grab) chickens, when it was shipping time. They had 5 "Coops", each with about 12,000 chickens in it. You had to catch them at night, with just a red light on at one end. If you tried to catch them during the day, or turned on the bright lights, they would all panic & run to the corner, and all pile up. This would kill a good percentage of them through suffocation. You had to wear good quality dust masks, and the next day you couldn't get the stink off of you (mostly a creosote smell), no matter how many showers you took. You had to "grab" 3 in one hand & 4 in the other, because 7 fit in each crate in the tractor trailer parked next to the Coop door. Some of the big old veterans grabbed 7 chickens in each hand, in a matter of seconds----Amazing!.

    It was a terrible part time job, but what the heck, we were getting $2 per hour !!!!!

    This is how the non-free-range chicken were raised---- in the 50s & 60s anyway.

  14. raptor700

    raptor700 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I assume they still use this method, You can harvest several crops with machines, but there is only one way you can harvest "live" birds
  15. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    The turkey looks tasty!!

    A few months ago I read an article about free range animals.

    One point I didn't forget was that they are getting chemcals from the "range" at a higher rate than stuck inside animals in some cases.

    Fertilizers,insecticides and such.

  16. tyotrain

    tyotrain Master of the Pit

    nice bird you have there.. looks great
  17. stephenh

    stephenh Fire Starter

    Thanks everyone for the nice comments.  I haven't had much time to read this week. I'm taking a short break from studying to try to catch up a bit.

    It is interesting about the free range. I am not surprised that some "free range" birds would have higher contamination levels. The man from whom we got our bird does not use pesticides and herbicides in his farming, so I don't think our heritage bird was so contaminated. I know that the farm has both Bourbon Red and Narragansett turkeys. I think ours was a Narragansett.

    The farm is Turtle Mist Farm in Franklinton, NC.

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