It wouldn’t be a Thirty Days of Food in November without a turkey recipe! Well here it finally is… just in time for Thanksgiving! Luckily we have a lovely poultry producer from Minnesota to share with us all about what they do. Lynn Meschke and her husband joined the turkey farm after leaving a life in the city. It didn’t take long for them to fall in love with their new life on the farm surrounded by turkeys. Lynn’s passion really shines through in this post… And I hope you will be thinking about her while you enjoy your turkey on Thanksgiving!
Little Falls, MN
- When did you start farming? What brought you into farming?
My husband, Kent, and I were married in 1985. We were living in St. Cloud, MN and he was working as a loan officer and I worked in the data entry department at a local medical clinic. His family, who had been raising turkeys since the 1960’s, decided to expand their farm and asked if Kent and I would like to move to Little Falls to join them. Kent, of course, knew what this all entailed because he grew up on a turkey farm. I was extremely naïve and thought it sounded like fun! Well, I had a lot to learn. Fortunately, I love to be outside, enjoy being around animals, and physical labor. Within no time I fell in love with our new occupation.
Currently we raise 500,000 hens per year, which equates to approximately 6 million pounds per year. Our turkeys are processed at Northern Pride which is a co-op in Thief River Falls, MN, which we are members of.
- What do you think was the most useful advance in farming such as machinery, genetics, chemicals, etc?
Definitely genetics have played a major role in the success of our flocks; enabling the birds to grow quicker and utilize their feed efficiently. But the most useful thing for us , because we mix our own feed, is the technology and software programs we use for feed formulations. We are able to pinpoint the exact amount of vitamins, protein, mineral, etc. the birds need depending on weather, age of the bird, and many other factors. Our birds grow faster because they are fed exactly what they need for optimum health.
- What is your favorite thing to do with a food crop you grow?
I love eating turkey! I crave it, I eat it at least five days a week, and am proud that we raise such a high protein, lean, affordable meat. I have many favorite recipes and am having difficulty sharing only one! People don’t realize there are so many ways to use turkey besides just roasting a whole bird. Ground turkey is economical and versatile and can be used in place of ground beef. It’s lower in calories and cholesterol too! My favorite recipe using ground turkey is Feta Turkey Burgers.
1# ground turkey, 1 c. crumbled feta cheese, 1/2 c. sliced or chopped black olives or kalamata, 2 t. dried oregano, dash salt (the feta gives a salt flavor so only a dash is needed), dash granulated garlic. Mix up, patty and grill until no longer pink in the middle. I serve them on buns with red onion, lettuce, and cucumber ranch dressing. (I prefer using the all-white ground turkey; they hold together nicely when grilling.)
- What is one message you’d like to get across to the general public about what you do?
The world’s population is growing so fast we have to find ways to feed everyone. Providing food for the world should be everyone’s responsibility. In order to do that we need the technological tools to grow more food on less land. Somehow people think technology and food shouldn’t mix. There are unreliable sources spreading very wrong messages about agriculture in general. Social media is extremely powerful and people tend to believe whatever they read on the internet. My message would be, when you have questions about the food you’re feeding your family, find your own reliable sources that are doing tests based on scientific facts, not a celebrity’s endorsement or someone without an agricultural background. Or, better yet, ask a farmer directly!
For this recipe, I used a turkey breast. If you are cooking a whole large turkey (around 20 lbs.), just double the recipe. I brined my turkey breast for about 15 hours, that was plenty of time. Be sure to rinse your turkey before cooking to make sure your gravy doesn’t end up salty! Cooking a turkey doesn’t have to be scary and hopefully this recipe makes it simple.
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider
- 1 gallon water
- 3/4 cup coarse salt
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- peels of one orange
- 1 1/2 tablespoons mixed peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 stick butter, softened
- zest of 2 lemons (or 1 orange)
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- salt and pepper
- 1 turkey breast about 6 lbs. (or one small whole turkey, for a larger turkey - double the recipe)
- Combine all brine ingredients in a large pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover.
- Let the brine cool completely, then pour into a large bag or pot. Place uncooked turkey breast in brine solution and refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours.
- When you are ready to roast turkey breast, remove turkey from brine and discard brine. Soak turkey in a large bowl, pot, or in the sink in clean water for 10-15 minutes to remove excess salt.
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
- To make the citrus butter, mash the softened butter in a small bowl. Add the citrus zest, rosemary, and salt and pepper. Mix until combined. Rub the citrus butter all over the turkey breast and cavity.
- Set the turkey breast side up in a roasting pan. Roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees. (Cooking times vary: Plan on 20 minutes per pound in a 350 degree F oven for a defrosted turkey and 10 to 15 minutes per pound for fresh.)
- After you remove the turkey from the oven, let it rest covered with foil for at least 20 - 30 minutes before carving.
This post is part of my Thirty Days of Food series where I am writing about food and farming for the entire month of November, to find out more about it all or how to follow along, visit my Thirty Days of Food page or click the photo below to find more great recipes with farmer features!
– See more at: http://prairiecalifornian.com/beet-carrot-muffins-featuring-teresa-falk/#sthash.lB9ShS7h.dpuf