By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
The season of feasts creates a reason to focus on holiday birds such as turkeys and ducks. This fresh and sustainable poultry can now be found at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market.
For turkey, check in with Ramble Creek Farm and Mariaville Mushroom Men. For duck, speak with Squashville Farm. All of these farms encourage advance orders.
In an era of convenience cooking, the prospect of roasting a bird as big as a turkey (10 pounds at a minimum) or a duck (six to eight pounds) might seem daunting. Why do it? And how? Let’s start by looking at what makes these poultry so flavorful.
Ramble Creek owner Josh Carnes explains, “our turkeys arrived on farm as little poults on July 18, and grew to maturity on pasture.” He adds, “Turkeys forage a lot, way more than chickens. If moved to fresh grass on a regular basis, they get a large amount of their diet from the land.”
Squashville Farm owner Jim Gupta-Carlson notes that all of the animals raised on his farm – chickens, ducks, and goats – play a role in supporting the health of each other as well as the soil and vegetables that the farm cultivates. For example, “Ducks are particularly vital to keeping the populations of snails, which are pests to goats, under control.” Additionally, Gupta-Carlson says, “Because the ducks are raised outdoors, they run and they fly, and they live and eat like ducks.”
All of these local farm animals live to near-maturity and are processed on site. According to Carnes, this eases stress on the “one bad day” and helps create “an extremely high quality and flavorful finished product.”
As for cooking, simpler is better. Our accompanying recipe shows that there is no need to do such things as piercing the skin, parboiling in advance, or adding a lot of seasonings because, as Carnes notes, “the flavor of pastured birds truly stands on its own.” The basic steps involve roasting for 15 minutes at a high heat, then lowering the heat to continue cooking. Let the meat rest about 15 minutes before serving.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays in the Lincoln Baths Building, Saratoga Spa State Park. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the FreshFoodNY app.