THANKSGIVING TURKEY WITH A BIRD FROM SHELTON'S POULTRY
By: Sara De Leeuw
Just in time for Thanksgiving, I’m heading out to explore a 90-year-old business in the heart of Pomona, California. This is Shelton's Poultry!
Shelton's is a family run business started in 1924. One hen turkey and one tom turkey were given to Mr. and Mrs. Shelton as a wedding gift. From those two turkeys and those two people, Shelton's has grown into the largest natural poultry marketer in the country, selling hundreds of thousands of turkeys every year! Shelton’s offers not only fresh turkeys and chickens, but they have sausages, burgers, meatballs, turkey dogs, turkey jerky, chili and canned turkey meat, as well as a whole line of certified organic turkeys and chickens.
Shelton's chickens, turkeys and ducks are free-range birds, grown in California, without the use of antibiotics or artificial growth stimulants. The Shelton’s Poultry store in Pomona is the only place in the IE to find these magnificent birds.
One wall of their retail store is also dedicated to all the tools you’ll need to make your Thanksgiving feast spectacular! So, if you are in the market for a big turkey (up to 26 pounds) for your family gathering this year, Shelton’s is the place to go! A word of warning, you need to call a day in advance to order your turkey so they can have it ready and waiting for you!
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and Shelton’s gave me a whole turkey for this month’s kitchen adventure. I was very excited to get this bird home and in the oven!
I didn’t do anything fancy with the turkey, but I will share a good tip for cooking a turkey or chicken—spatchcock it. Cooking it this way keeps the meat tender and moist, and it will also ensure the turkey cooks much more evenly. In fact, my 14-pound turkey cooked in under two hours!
What does it mean to spatchcock a turkey? Using sharp kitchen scissors, cut down one side of the backbone, all the way through the bird. Turn the bird around and do the same thing on the other side of the backbone to remove it completely. Open the bird up and using the heel of your hand; press firmly on the inside of the center of the breast bone. You’ll hear it crack a little bit, and that’s what you want! Turn the bird over, and spread it out across your largest rimmed cookie sheet. It’s best to cook the bird on a flat rack, but if you don’t have a rack, use sliced vegetables to hold the bird off the bottom of the baking sheet. Onions and carrots work nicely for this purpose.
Once more, turn the bird over, and sprinkle the inside of the turkey cavity with salt and pepper. Flip it back over, and lay it breast side up on the cookie sheet. Rub unsalted butter over the outside of the bird, sprinkle with minced garlic, then more salt and pepper.
Roast the bird at 400 degrees, on the lowest rack in your oven, for approx. 90 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to be sure the bird is done. Insert the thermometer in the meaty portion of the breast, without touching the bone. The temperature should read 165 to 170 degrees, and the juices should run clear. If no thermometer is used, the thickest part of the drumstick should feel soft, and the leg and wing joints should move freely.
Turkey should rest at room temperature for about 1/2 hour before carving.
From my kitchen to yours, enjoy your Thanksgiving celebrations. I hope you are able to spend time surrounded by family and friends. I’m thankful for the times we’ve spent together this year, and I appreciate each of you reading this column! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Shelton's Poultry is located at 204 Loranne Avenue in Pomona, California. For more information, please call (909) 623-4361 or visit their website.