Kelly Bronze Turkey Farm–Danbury, Essex


A KellyBronze turkey is more than a breed - it is a philosophy...
"bred, fed, reared and prepared under optimum ethical conditions" (Observer Food Monthly) to give you the ultimate eating experience.
Our family has been producing our unique and delicious tasting KellyBronze turkeys for more than 25 years.
We are truly passionate about what we do - and believe it shows in the flavour and texture of the turkey you put on the table.


Thanks, yet again, to my lovely friend Kavey, I received an invitation to visit Kelly Bronze Turkeys in Danbury.

Reading about the company made my decision for me – as if a day with Kavey wasn’t enough incentive!

“Paul and his father Derek have spent over 25 years developing the best bronze turkey for the Christmas dinner table. In the early 1970’s they put their efforts into buying up all the last remaining breeding stocks from all around the country to rear turkeys for Christmas concentrating on flavour and texture. But this is not the only thing that helps to make a KellyBronze turkey so special, each turkey is produced the Kelly way. This means each bird is dry plucked and hung for up to 3 weeks and does not go through water at any stage of the processing, unlike standard supermarket turkeys.”

Being somewhat light on the job front at the moment, I had some spare time, and was in dire need of cheering up. Tying on my big boots, I readied myself for the day (we had been warned it would be muddy) and made my way to Chelmsford station. Kavey and I arrived early, so shared a nice coffee whilst wondering where to meet everyone else.

We first found Ed – representing  Helen from  Fuss Free Flavours - (I’ve snaffled his photo of Paul, and his lovely write up is here http://fussfreeflavours.com/2012/11/down-on-the-kellybronze-farm/) and then Solange from Pebble Soup.

Paul Kelly – the present MD of Kelly’s – came to meet us. (Though minus the turkey. That would just have been awkward.)


He drove us through Chelmsford then out into the country to Turkey HQ.

Can you tell that this is Turkey HQ yet?

Giant turkey 

We were taken into a nice, warm office, and given coffee and biscuits. Paul then endeavoured to give us a talk and a presentation, though I’m afraid that with a roomful of chatterboxes, it kept veering off into conversations about food and cooking, and discussions about all kinds of things. Paul is a very genial fellow, and didn’t seem to mind at all, joining in merrily with us.

The talk was incredibly informative. Finding out that the traditional white turkeys are in fact just a mutation of the bronze, but people prefer the white because of appearance. The feather shafts in a white turkey are still there, you just can’t see them in the skin  like you can with a bronze. I suggested that they added truffle flavouring and call them truffle spores. I see a market for it darling!

Now. There are bronze turkeys, and there is a KellyBronze® turkey. It’s not just the breed, it’s the way of rearing, the good feeding, the spacious and natural environment, the way the animal is killed and then treated after death. It’s an entire process.

The birds are left to grow slowly, so that they mature at a natural rate, putting on the weight and fat content with no artificial assistance for six months. This is around  three months longer than an intensively reared, standard white turkey. It’s not just kinder, it results in a huge whack of flavour.

Once the birds have met their end, also as humanely and as stress free as possible, they are dry plucked and then hung, at low temperature, for 14 days.

Kelly’s uses a process called New York Dressing which, oddly, is no longer used in America, even though it originated there. Paul had just come back from the USA, teaching them that method again.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
New York dressed: (of poultry) sold by weight without having the entrails, head, or feet removed.

The process ensures that exposure to salmonella bacteria is almost eradicated,  because after being hung, not only do the enzymes have a proper chance to do their tenderising work on the meat, the entrails come out all of a piece, lowering the chance of contamination.

The dry plucking leaves the top layer of skin intact, and they also use a waxing process to get rid of the majority of the feather shafts. (I admit, when it was announced that the turkeys were waxed, there was rather a lot of hilarity round the table.)

The other thing that appealed to me – being a dark meat lover – is that they also remove the tendons from the legs. Anyone who has ever tried to eat a turkey drumstick will know what a boon this is. I adore the leg and thigh meat, so when faced with a turkey drumstick complete with tendons, I do have a bit of a battle. (Incidentally, the Duchy Originals bronze turkeys for Waitrose are produced by Kelly’s, and have undergone the same procedure.)

Now a bit about the company because, dammit, it’s important:

Formed in 1971 by Derek and Molly Kelly
34000 breeders producing 2.6 million eggs from May to August
3 egg supply areas (Ayrshire, Northants ,Essex)
Hatch 150,000 eggs per week
Grow  140,000 for Christmas
28 KellyBronze farmers selling 17,000 KellyBronze Turkeys from the Farm gate
28 Full time people + 80 part time in the seasons
22 contract farmers
Sister companies in Holland and Germany
30 miles North East of London
Launched in the US this year (2012)

I love that they have revived an old tradition, and kept it going. 

It’s a very pretty looking place, and I’m afraid on the way out after the presentation, I made everyone stop so that I could take a photo of this beautiful water feature.

Water feature

We piled back into the truck, and headed off down more country lanes to where the wild things were.

Down Essex way  Woodland

More woodland

And yes, it was muddy. This was the drier bit!

Wandering birdies

Turkeys don’t like the wind, so the majority of them were sheltering in the barn. Very sensible.

Hiding from the wind

I admit to not venturing into the wooded parts, as my balance is shot at the moment, so walking on slippery mud would have been a disaster. Instead I wandered back across the field, carefully, only to turn and realise that I had become some sort of Pied Piper to the turkeys.

Free range

A Bronze turkey

They really are inquisitive, and seem quite happy to follow anyone, so I had no problem imagining the turkey walks from East Anglia down to the London markets in time for Christmas.

After being buffeted about by the wind for a while, we were quite glad to head off to Paul’s house, where he very graciously fed us lunch. There followed an intense moment of pure kitchen envy here.

The range

and here…

Butcher block full on

and here…

Knife drawer

The smell of roast turkey filled the house, neatly aided and abetted by the juices simmering on the stove.

Stock cooking down

The bird, in all its golden-skinned glory, was waiting to be expertly carved by Paul. He’s won a world record for turkey carving you know.

Look at the skin on that. Delicious!

Beautiful skin

As the breast was taken off, I asked Paul to hold it up, purely so I could get a shot of the juices coming out of it. You can see them there on his hand, and on the knife. This turkey was NOT a dry turkey. To be honest, no turkey should be dry.

Generally it is not the fault of the turkey, it’s the cooking. The cooking times on many commercial birds are wrong. They are set to deliberately overcook, to reduce the chance of anyone getting ill. Health and safety is good, but in this case, that also ruins what is a delicious meat.

Carved breast

Crispy skin

Kelly’s send out a meat thermometer, free, with every delivery, and they also send cooking instructions.


The meat that we ate was so very moist, that I fully appreciated the huge amount of work that goes into it. It’s an expensive way of rearing, and yes, the turkey is pricey compared to the average supermarket bird, but it really is worth it. There’s no gravy added to that meat, it’s just the juices from the bird itself.



As an extra treat, Paul took the skin off the turkey, salted it, and roasted it on its own for an extra while. TURKEY SKIN CRACKLING people. It was delicate and highly savoury, quite addictive! We kept passing the plate round and round until it was all gone. I’m absolutely doing that with mine next time. I am going to fight the urge to make bacon dust to sprinkle over it.

I can honestly say that, even though I liked turkey before, I actively LOVED this one. The meat has a far nicer texture, and the flavour is more pronounced. It was incredibly tender, and utterly delicious. Yes, I know, that word gets over-used but really, it was.

I am quite willing to save up to have one every year. A proper, once a year treat.

It’s not just us foodies who were impressed. Anyone recognise this young fella?

Paul and Jamie

Jamie is also a fan and promoter of the Kelly way of carving. That’s the carving that Paul won an award for. In case you didn’t see that earlier. Winking smile

They also do a half turkey, for the smaller family, and all kinds of other things. I want to try the turkey sausages, because they sounded fabulous.

You can order and then collect from the farm, which would be a grand thing to do as they try to make it really Christmassy, with mulled wine and a grotto. I love the special touches they add, it’s a mark of a company that truly cares about what it does. If you can’t make it to Essex, you can order online and have it delivered right to you.


Here’s to many, many more years of Kelly Turkeys. An enduring legacy for Molly, Paul’s Mum, missed but never forgotten. She advocated cooking the turkey breast side down first, which maximises the flow of fat into the breast, keeping it even more moist. I will be doing that, too!

We had a fabulous day, and it was such a treat to witness people with real passion for what they do.

Special thanks go to Paul Kelly, for welcoming us with open arms, into your business and your home.

I went as a guest of Kelly Bronze.


Nigel’s Lazy Loaf

This is, yet again, a Nigel Slater recipe. Yes, I have a soft spot for this particular TV cook (he insists he is a cook, not a chef) and pretty much everything of his that I have tried, works. I know he cannot lay claim to soda bread, because that has existed for many years already, but he can lay claim to bringing it back into the public gaze.

In these days of off the shelf breads that are made by something called the Chorleywood process, it makes a fabulous change to have something tactile, something almost earthy, to sink your teeth into. Something that you made yourself, with an absolute minimum of fuss, but with maximum flavour.

I have tried sourdough, with mixed results, and I will be trying that again, even if only to prove to myself that it can’t be as difficult as it seems and that I just need to persevere.

Poncy art shot

But today I wanted ‘instant’ gratification. The kind of bread that you tear a hunk off and dip into soup, or eat stickily spread with honey, or a good jam. I didn’t want to wait. I also needed to make use of the bag of wholemeal Spelt flour that had been languishing in my baking cupboard, and I think this recipe did me proud. Thank you Mr Slater. Yet again.

The recipe and back story, is from here: 

As is my usual way, I changed the recipe a little, to fit with what I had.

250g Wholemeal spelt flour
200g plain white flour
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
350ml Tim’s Dairy Greek yoghurt (plain) with about 3 tbs water added to make it thinner

Set the oven to 220C/200C Fan/gas mark 8.

Put a casserole pot (I used my earthenware Le Creuset Christmas present!) and its lid into the oven. I do have a cast iron pot as well, but that seemed too big for this recipe.

Mix the flours, sea salt, sugar and bicarbonate of soda together in a large bowl, pour in the liquid, and then mix it all together with a butter knife.

Knead it for a bit, add a little more flour if it’s too sticky and then flatten it to about 4cm high.

The next bit was removing the pan from the oven, and dusting the inside of the pan lightly with flour. The flour starts to toast and smells fabulous.

I managed to  lower in the dough without burning myself, which I counted as a win, then snipped a cross into the top with a pair of scissors.

Back on with the lid and put the dish back into the oven.

The bread should be ready after 25 minutes though mine took about 5-10 minutes longer. The smell of the loaf baking really is gorgeous, especially as you have the flour on the bottom of the pan toasting in there too.

Remove from the oven and leave in place for 5 minutes before turning out and leaving to cool slightly before eating.

That’s the pot I used to cook it in, underneath the loaf.

Spelt soda bread  Soda Bread i

Soda Bread ii

It has a lovely, crisp crust and a very tender inside. The crumb looks dense, but it isn’t heavy at all. Looks like another one to add to the Make Again list!

Edit: 05.12.2012 – a spiced, fruited version!

I simply had to make this again, but this time with variations.

225g spelt flour
225g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp soft muscovado sugar stirred into 350 ml plain yoghurt
1 tsp Demerara sugar mixed into the flours
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
a good grate of fresh nutmeg
1/2 cup sultanas, plumped up in warm water then drained

Put the soft muscovado sugar into the yoghurt and leave to sit for 1/2 an hour then stir well.

Mix flours, salt, bicarb together along with the 1 tsp Demerara sugar (I mix with a wire whisk to get any lumps out)

Pout the yoghurt mixture in, add the sultanas and mix to a slightly sticky dough.

Cook as above. Again, it took longer. About35 minutes.

It has a softer crust, but a gorgeous almost malty flavour.

Sultana and mixed spice soda bread ii

Sultana and mixed spice soda bread

Sultana and mixed spice soda bread i


Inspector Montalbano; enabler.

He is you know. That entire series just exists solely to enable my cravings for pasta. Not just pasta. To be more specific, my cravings usually centre around spaghetti. Every time I watch an episode, he is somewhere eating either caponata, fresh fish or spaghetti. Last night it was spaghetti con vongole, and spaghetti with sardines. Then it was spaghetti with crab. See, spaghetti all over the place!

Today, then, had to include spaghetti. Luckily I had stocked up recently on some of my lovely Dreamfields low carb pasta, and in one of those boxes I knew there was angel hair spaghetti.

But what to make? I thought of the dish of sardines, and realised that even though I loathe sardines (I dislike almost all oily fish except raw salmon) I had a lonely looking tin of tuna to use up. It had to be done.

Spaghetti al tonno - ispirati dalla Sicilia

Olive oil

Lemon olive oil (this was a treat to myself that I bought at Maltby Street market a while back. Mallafre olive oil, crushed with lemons.)

The finely grated zest of one lemon

2 shallots, finely sliced

2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

Handful of sultanas, soaked for about 10 minutes in warm water.

1 x 125g/4oz tin of tuna in brine, drained

Gently fry the shallots in olive oil until they start to soften, then add in the garlic slices. Everything should cook through, but not brown too much.

Add in the sultanas, and the halved cherry tomatoes, cut side down. Cook gently until the juices start coming out of the tomatoes.

Add in the drained tuna and the lemon zest and up the heat a little.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta. I used about 4oz/125g angel hair spaghetti.

When the pasta is cooked to your liking, tip it into the tuna sauce, and mix well.

I drizzled over some of the lemon oil to lift it, and it really worked.

Thank you Salvo Montalbano.



Tuna lemon pasta


Cake and Ice cream.

It’s a winner isn’t it? The idea of a good, rich cake, its gooeyness cut by tangy ice cream? Heaven to me. It’s like eating hot Christmas pudding with cold, cold cream. (My mum’s light Christmas pudding though, no other.)
This week, my husband has been working stupid hours. Such long hours, in fact, that I’ve barely seen him for more than half an hour at a time. He’s not been home before midnight most nights, some nights it’s been 2am. So if anyone deserved cake, it’s him.
I had made Nigella’s Chocolate Olive Oil cake earlier in the week but the poor man hadn’t had a chance to eat it. As he was magically home before 9pm yesterday, it was time for Cake. I had made the ice cream earlier in the week too.
Caramel Condensed Milk Ice cream
1 can Caramel Condensed milk
1 pot Tim’s Dairy Greek yoghurt
1 cup crushed meringues
1 tsp vanilla extract
Whisk the yoghurt, the condensed milk (save 2 tbs) and extract together, trying to get some air in.
Stir in the meringue pieces. (I had some power, some pieces, all sorts.)
Pour all of this into a freezer container. I used an empty ice cream tub.
Dot the top with the rest of the condensed milk, and swirl it through so you have toffee trails.
Freeze overnight and take out of the freezer about 1/2 an hour before serving. There are no ice crystals, but it can set very solid!

Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Olive Oil Cake (with my own tweaks of course)

50 grams cocoa powder (good quality, sifted)
125 ml boiling water
1 teaspoon(s) best vanilla extract*
1 teaspoon rose extract*
1 tsp cinnamon extract*
200 gram soft light brown muscovado sugar
3 eggs
150 gram(s) ground almonds
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Pinch salt
150 ml light olive oil (plus more for greasing)
1 22 or 23cm springform cake tin, the sides greased and the base lined
Mix the cocoa, boiling water and extracts together. Whisk well so there are no lumps and then leave to cool.
Whisk the eggs, oil and sugar together until they look paler and more creamy. I whisked for a good ten minutes.
Mix in the almonds,  bicarb and a pinch of salt.

Cocoa and dry ingredients

Pour in the cocoa mixture, and mix very well.
Pour that lot into a lined springform cake tin. Don’t worry, it really is that runny.


Bake at 170C/Gas 3 for 45 minutes. (I have a fan oven, so cooked it at 160C)
Leave it to cool in the tin.

Cooked cake in tin

Serve with the ice-cream, making sure to post photos on Twitter late at night so that you can make folks hungry.

This slice of cake was eaten on election night because I was anxious

Caramel Meringue icecream
This cake and ice cream was eaten to celebrate seeing my husband properly for the first time in days.

*The extracts used were Star Kay White’s. They are amazing.