Ruffling Some Feathers

Considering forgoing the conventional supermarket turkey for a heritage-breed bird? Here’s where you can get your hands on one, the cooking tips you’ll need, and tools to help get that showpiece out to the table.

What’s a Heritage Turkey?

Unlike commercially produced turkeys, these birds reproduce naturally and grow slowly from free-range outdoor feeding.

Sourcing Your Bird 

➸ Kettle Range Meat Company: Burlington’s Yuppie Hill Farm raises the heritage “bronze” breed and the broad-breasted white turkey for Kettle Range. Differences: The heritage breed’s meat is darker, while the other bird has larger breasts and whiter meat. Call 800-608-2334 or go to (5501 W. State St.)

Photo courtesy of Gabriel/Dominion Valley Farm.
Photo courtesy of Gabriel/Dominion Valley Farm.

Bunzel’s Meats and Catering: Fresh and free-range, the broad-breasted white turkey is available at roughly 8 to 24 pounds. Reserve yours at 414-873-7960. (9015 W. Burleigh St.)

➸ Bavette La Boucherie: Owner Karen Bell plans to have a limited supply of heritage turkeys. Contact the Third Ward store for availability. (330 E Menomonee St., 414-273-3375)

➸ Dominion Valley Farm: This Washington County farm has two options – the heritage Bourbon Red, distinguished by its compact shape (like other humanely raised birds, it is not injected with additives or hormones) and broad-breasted white turkeys, also pasture raised. (262-629-9423;

Knife photo courtesy of Mercer Culinary.
Click to enlarge. Knife photo courtesy of Mercer Culinary.

Cooking the Bird

➸ It’s not necessary to brine or baste a heritage turkey, says Bavette’s Karen Bell. But while the meat is said to be moist, the texture is firm, with “more robust flavor,” adds Dominion Valley Farm’s Tammera Dykema. Ask your purveyor to help trouble-shoot; with each bird, Dominion includes instructions for cooking, as well as a recipe.

If turkey’s not on your menu… Try Groppi’s Food Market (1441 E. Russell Ave.) for turducken and fresh whole duck; Bunzel’s for fresh goose, duck, capons and homemade turducken; and Bavette for fresh moulard (a duck hybrid), frozen capon or frozen Bresse chicken (an American version of the prized French breed).

‘Ruffling Some Feathers’ appears in the November issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning October 31, or buy a copy at

Be the first to get every new issue. Subscribe.




Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.