While the turkeys may not be voting for Christmas, the people of Thurles and surrounding areas are voting for turkeys. The traditional bird is as popular as ever this year, with many people opting for a free range turkey.
And according to Thurles butcher Denis O’Reilly of Premier Meats, free range is the way to go.
Denis buys all his turkeys from Tipperary producer Pat Keaveney in Moyglass outside Killenaule, and, while he is reluctant to reveal how many turkeys he will sell in the run-up to Christmas, he says that demand is good this year.
“There is a lot that goes into rearing a free range turkey,” he says. Like cattle, the ones that are out in the fields take longer to mature. If you have a turkey indoors, it will gain weight faster.” And having them outdoors also means that they produce more meat because they are using their muscles.
He reveals that the bronze turkey is the most popular and is also the best for free range rearing.
Denis has plenty of helpful hints for choosing which bird will adorn your table, but recommends that you don’t buy one that is less than 10lbs.
“I only sell turkeys that are over 12lbs. Anything undr that will be all carcass and no meat,” he points out.
But for those who don’t need a large dinner, he recommends buying a rolled breast.
Price, of course, is a factor these days, with an average difference of around E15 between a free range turkey and one that is reared indoors. “I charge E4 per lb for a free range, and E3.40 for an indoor one,” he says.