Visiting Copas Turkey Farm for a Turkey Carving Lesson:
Just outside Maidenhead, at Kings Coppice Farm, Tom Copas Senior has been farming turkeys since 1957, when his own father gifted him 153 turkeys. Having been lucky enough to be sent a sample of a Copas Turkey (and offered one to give away to London-Unattached readers), I was keen to find out more about what made this turkey so special. And, having failed dismally to carve my turkey properly, to learn how to do a better job.
At Kings Coppice Farm all the turkeys are free-range, the poults are reared indoors until it is safe for them to be allowed out at around 6 weeks old. Then, they are allowed to roam freely across meadows and cherry orchards, cared for and fed by a small team of specialists. Unlike most supermarket turkeys, reared for just 2 to 4 months, Copas turkeys are reared until they are fully grown (around 7 months old).
The birds are game-hung for at least two weeks to ensure the meat is tender and has a great depth of flavour. The flavour of my sample Copas turkey was like a cross between Guinea Fowl and Pheasant. I was also intrigued by a layer of fat just under the skin. This is apparently the result of allowing the birds to mature fully and to roam freely. I followed Tom’s wife Brenda’s instructions not to baste, butter or cover my turkey with bacon and the result was a perfectly moist turkey with crisp golden skin.
The birds are also dry plucked by hand. When you get a Copas turkey you can still see a few feather stubs. For me, it’s a bit like buying wonky vegetables, something that takes me back to my childhood when my mother used to attempt to pluck pheasant. It’s natural.
When you visit the farm, safety and hygiene is paramount. All visitors have to dip their boots before going anywhere near the turkeys. And, the result is that Copas turkeys contain zero levels of Campylobacter, which is the cause of most food poisoning in the UK
We were treated to a carving lesson by Tom Copas Senior himself.
The first thing to remember is that your cooked turkey needs to rest for at least 15 minutes (depending on size) and up to 30 minutes before you start to carve. That way, the meat will be relaxed and easier to cut.
Then, remove one or both of the legs above the thigh, close to the breast. If you are not planning to use the entire turkey for Christmas lunch, stick to carving just one side.
Make a sharp incision in to the top of the thigh joint to release it from the breast, then hold the leg and twist it slightly to break the joint.Cut through and put each leg to one side. Remove the wings using the same technique.
Ideally the wishbone will have been removed before cooking. But, if not, insert the tip of your carving knife and cut it out at this stage. To carve the breast, run the point of the knife along the breastbone, gently lifting away the entire breast.
You should be able to remove all the white meat on one side this way. Carve it across the grain into thick slices.
Holding the leg in one hand, carve away the brown thigh meat from the thigh, then break off the drumstick which can be served as it is.
Everything looked very simple, so we went on to practise on chicken! I’m convinced that part of our success came from having allowed the meat to rest properly before attempting to carve. And of course, part was down to the expert tuition. Certainly, cutting the breast meat across the grain ensure that the white meat doesn’t dry out too much before it is served.
If you’d like a Copas Turkey, you’ve got just a few hours to enter my giveaway. And, if you don’t win one this year, you can STILL order from Copas and either pick up your turkey in person or have it delivered to your door in time for Christmas.
Last orders for Christmas 2015 – 18th December – but order as soon as possible select the perfect size (4 – 10kg) and avoid disappointment