Christmas turkey farmer hits out at ‘wasteful and costly’ consumer trend towards crowns over whole birds
PUBLISHED: 16:13 13 December 2018 | UPDATED: 16:13 13 December 2018
Justin Goff/GOFF Photos
Three Essex food heroes talked turkey at a live demonstration event aimed at celebrating the diversity of the big bird, calling for a return to cooking whole birds at Christmas.
Paul Kelly, managing director of luxury turkey brand KellyBronze, was joined by father Derek, who founded the business in 1971, at celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s headquarters in Islington, London, for a masterclass in cooking it, and creating innovative dishes.
Paul, whose family business, Kelly Turkeys, is based at Danbury in Essex, showed how quick and easy his poultry is to cook.
He shared the speedy carving tips which led him to becoming the current Guinness World Record holder, and talked all things Christmas turkeys, including why you should always buy a whole bird rather than a crown.
KellyBronze fan Jamie joined in as Paul livestreamed the event.
Paul Kelly, of Didbury, urged British consumers to think twice about purchasing turkey crowns this festive season, as he believes it’s wrong from a consumer perspective, as well on sustainability grounds.
The popularity of the turkey crown or pre-prepared joint has risen in recent years, with around 70% of turkeys purchased at Christmas now either a crown or joint.
The public perception is that crowns are easier and simpler to cook than a whole bird, but Paul believes consumers should be questioning what happens to the legs and wings that are removed to create the turkey crowns, and the amount of food waste created.
Although some argue crowns are better on cost grounds, he argued that the reality is quite different, with whole birds offering much better value for money.
“The shocking truth that a turkey crown is nearly double the cost per kg of a whole bird should be reason enough to make the switch this year,” he said.
“All turkey producers add the cost of the legs that are removed on to the price of the crown, so when you buy a crown you have paid for the whole bird regardless.
“With all the amazing recipes that use the leftovers from a whole bird, there is no excuse for buying a crown.”
There were also many other benefits to cooking a whole bird, he said, including the ability to make a good stock using the bones from the legs and back, which can then be used to add flavour to other dishes.
Turkey leftovers were also one of the “glorious things” about cooking a whole turkey at Christmas, he said, which more often
than not consists of the “hugely underappreciated” dark meat.
“Whilst it is true that dark meat, ie, that of the legs and thighs, is slightly higher in cholesterol and fat, it’s predominately the heart-healthy mono and polyunsaturated kinds.
“Dark meat also contains more iron, zinc, riboflavin, thiamine and vitamins B6 and B12 than white meat.”
The British public needed to be less fearful of a whole bird, he said, adding that they are quick and easy to cook.
Paul and his family have been perfecting the art of rearing turkeys for nearly half a century, producing premium birds, reared as close to nature as possible.
KellyBronze birds are entirely free range and live through every season, foraging in their natural woodland habitat at the family farm in Danbury.
They are matured to more than twice the age of a standard industry turkey and plucked by hand – a method of preparation dating back to medieval times, enabling them to be dry hung.
This tenderises the meat and intensifies the taste, say the Kellys.