Thursday, 19 October 2017

Meet the Producer - Talking Turkey with Barra Bronzes

Meet the Aberdeenshire producer. Talking Turkey with Craig Michie of Barra Bronzes. Great Taste award winning free range slow grown Scottish turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas.



Last year our turkey came from Aberdeenshire's Barra Bronzes. My whole family agreed that it was the best we'd ever eaten. So succulent and flavourful and so much meat in places I've never seen meat on a bird before. Absolute 5* Quality and super quick and easy to cook. Before and since then I've been following Craig Michie and his birds on both social and traditional media. He created quite a stir with Countryfile and The Mart appearances, both Craig and the turkeys proving to be natural TV stars. 


As a foodie, cooking at Christmas is of course one of the main events. Over the years I've served up a variety of birds for the big day and tried pretty much all the methods of cooking them. The quest, particularly when it comes to turkey, is to avoid it drying out. Easier said than done. I must admit that last year when Craig told me that no basting, brining, bacon, butter or tinfoil was required for my Barra Bronze I was somewhat sceptical. However undeterred we collected our bird from the farm where it had been expertly trussed, wrapped in greaseproof paper and individually boxed. Inside the box was a pop up thermometer and a sprig of herbs. All I needed to add was an onion in the cavity and follow the cooking instructions provided. Nothing complex, season with salt and pepper and cook breast side down for all but the last 40 minutes. The upside down thing is because most of the fat is on the back of the turkey so this allows it to percolate through the breast. This self basting makes the meat juicy and also allows the bird to cook much, much quicker. 


After having tasted the product I wanted to find out more about what made it so special, so on a bright Autumnal day I headed to the outskirts of Inverurie to meet the Turkeys. All 2,000 of them. What an amazing sight to see - and hear. Boy are they noisy! They are also very inquisitive and quickly surrounded me and followed me around the field like the pied piper. Strangely I didn't feel at all threatened by them, they pecked at my boots but weren't in any way wild. They seemed very contented, healthy and happy with plenty of freedom and room to roam. I'm not sure how intelligent they are but they definitely all seemed to have their own personalities, not to mention looks.


The birds arrive on the farm at the end of May at a day old which by Christmas time makes them the slowest grown in the country. To begin with they need constant monitoring night and day which is hugely labour intensive. They remain penned indoors with a heat source for the first few weeks until the beginning of July when they get outdoors. Here they can sup up the scenery with views of Barra Hill to the East and Bennachie to the west. During the day they have free range to forage and are fed on a home mix of cereals all grown on the farm. Two huge mesh sided tunnels house the turkeys at night and throughout the day should they wish to shelter from the elements. These are equipped with automated feeders, fresh water and roosting platforms.



The turkeys grow slowly over a 26-27 week period to ensure optimum quality in terms of flavour and texture. This is almost 3 times as long as a standard turkey. To keep them safe throughout this time two Alpacas look after the flock and will make short work of any badgers or foxes. They scared me a lot more than the turkeys did! When it comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas the Turkeys are processed onsite at the farm butchery which ensures minimum stress to them and greatly improves the quality of the meat. They are dry plucked and finished off by hand before being hung in a cold store for a fortnight which allows the meat to mature and develop even more depth in flavour. Time to say goodbye to the turkeys but as we were leaving I suddenly realised I hadn't heard any 'Gobble Gobbles'. Turns out that it's only the males that say this and they are seriously outnumbered by the girls. Every day's a school day.




Meet The Producer


What's your name and where do you come from?
Craig Michie from Lochend of Barra, Inverurie

How did you end up farming turkeys for a living?
I had a real passion to produce something special, something different and with that Barra Bronzes was formed

What's the best and worst thing about your job?
The best thing about the job is seeing happy customers leave on Christmas Eve with a Barra Bronze.
Worst is working against the clock to pluck lots of turkeys - Christmas can never be delayed!

What makes Barra Bronzes different? 
There is not one thing that makes a Barra Bronze different - there are many. Our birds are the slowest grown in the country which gives you a fuller flavour. They are all female as the eating quality is better. They have twice the space of the free range standards to ensure the best welfare and final product. We also feed them on a special diet from the cereals we grow on the farm. This ensures they grow really slowly to enrich flavour.

Where and how can people buy your products? 
People can buy our product online at www.barrabronzes.co.uk for both home delivery and farm collection

Lastly, share the love and recommend another Aberdeen/shire producer? 
Esker Gin (great choice Craig - check out my recipe for Gin & Tonic Mussels made with Esker Gin)




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www.foodiequine.co.uk Meet the Aberdeenshire producer. Talking Turkey with Craig Michie of Barra Bronzes. Great Taste award winning free range slow grown Scottish turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Disclosure: This is not a paid post however I have been and will be compensated in Turkey! As always, all views expressed are my own. 
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me as a passionate Scottish Food Blogger to continue to share my Edible Food and Travel Adventures with you. I’m super choosy who I work with and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.

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