For many of our customers at Mr Pickles’ the Yorkshire Food Emporium, Christmas would not be the occasion that it is without having a turkey on the menu.
And as the bird is in such high demand at this festive time of the year, there are many small farms that only rear turkeys for the festive season.
Certainly that is the case for many of our friends and our suppliers at Sheffield based Firs Farm and Loose Birds in Harome.
But, as the children’s nursery rhyme goes, it’s the goose that is getting fat, not the turkey.
The bird hails from America, rumour has it that the first turkey was brought to the UK by a Yorkshireman, William Strickland, in 1526.
But for many years, the new world bird turkey was mostly reserved for wealthy people and for royalty. Indeed, Henry VIII was the first person in this country to enjoy turkey on Christmas Day.
In the meantime, the rest of working class Britain continued to have goose for the festive season, or sometimes beef, which was a popular choice in the north of England.
Over time the tradition of having a Christmas turkey did see a rise in popularity and this could be linked to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. In the sell-out novel, the newly reformed Scrooge replaced the Cratchit family’s goose with a gift of the prize turkey.
But, despite the book’s first print run selling out in less than a week, the turkey still wasn’t commonplace until the 20th century and it’s only in the last 60 years or so that sales have boomed at Christmas.
Whether you’d like to try goose or turkey this year, we’re sourcing both from Firs Farm and Loose Birds, so you can be assured of the provenance and high welfare.
When it comes to cooking, we recommend you cook the legs separately to the breast as the legs take longer to cook.
Use a sharp knife to slice through the joint in the bone and roast the legs for an hour or so before placing the crown on top. We also like to remove the wings and add them to the base of the roasting dish with chopped onion, carrot and celery; they make a great gravy!
For more information about our Christmas meat, including beef and lamb roasting joints, duck and chicken, pop into our store on Abbeydale Road and ask a member of our team for advice and recommendations.