The Food Artisan: KellyBronze Turkey’s Paul Kelly

· A worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand. 
· As modifier of food or drink made in a traditional or non-mechanized way using high-quality ingredients.
Once a fortnight CellarVie Wines, and our roving ambassador Nigel Barden, endeavours to unearth some of our shores’ finest and most quintessentially artisan food producers - the culinary purists who consistently champion local produce in an innovative yet deliciously tasty fashion - in order to bring you an interview that gives you an insight into their ethos. In our latest and very festive instalment, Nigel talks with KellyBronze Turkey’s Paul Kelly

Nigel writes: “KellyBronze Turkeys really are the Rolls Royce of festive birds, as they're modelled on the original wild black turkeys of America. They are hung to give them a beautifully gamey complex flavour, a culinary world apart from the bland white versions so often served up dry and tasteless. So full of flavour are they, that cooking is simplicity itself and that apart from putting chopped up onions in the bird's cavity and in the roasting tin, with the giblets and half a litre's worth of water, that's it. Cooking is a mere two and a quarter hours for a 5kg bird and three quarters of the way through its flipped onto its back, with the breast having been nicely basted by the tasty juices that emanate from the back. These birds are good enough to eat all year round. Finally, do make your gravy from all the juices that have gathered in the pan and follow the Kelly carve by cutting the breast off in one whole piece (see their website for footage

“Although the Kelly family farm is in Danbury, Essex, lots of their birds are reared under licence throughout Britain and Paul's even managed sell his birds back to the Americans.

“Paul took the business over from Dad, Derek who started proceedings 41 years ago and Paul and his birds are incredibly highly thought of by Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and Jimmy Doherty.
How did the family get into turkeys and bronze ones in particular?
My mother and father started the business in 1971. My father’s parents were both head teachers at Durham schools but my father loved agriculture. He met my mother at agricultural university in Durham and then went as a Colman to my grandfather’s farm on the Yorkshire dales. He did his degree in poultry genetics so when his parents retired to a small farm in Essex the turkey business was started. I was born 12 years later into the world of growing and plucking Christmas turkeys.
Ironically, I understand that you're now enticing America with the Kelly birds?
I am writing this at Heathrow Terminal 5 on my way to Virginia to pluck our KellyBronze turkeys on the small farm we have rented there. It is very exciting as no one in the USA produces anywhere close to the quality we do. Everyone tells me I am crazy because turkeys are a dollar a pound and people will not pay more, no matter how good it is. Yet the sale of fine wines and good champagne go through the roof at thanksgiving and Christmas so logic would predict there is room for a quality turkey so as to offer consumers the choice they do not currently have. Our artisan breeds and production methods will be totally unique in the US. Jamie Oliver has been a great friend in sending our US grown KellyBronze turkeys to his foodie friends in the US as a thanksgiving present to help spread the word. Exciting times ahead but I am under no illusion, as the US has been a graveyard for many British companies, but I am going to give it my best shot.
What percentage of your birds are consumed at Christmas and how do we persuade Brits to eat turkey at other times of the year?
About 50% of turkeys grown in UK are consumed at Christmas. We are working hard to try and get turkey on the menu all year as it is in all other countries in Europe and the US. One problem I feel is that a lot of people cremate their turkey at Christmas and are left with the memory of a dry and tasteless meat! Turkey is not a very forgiving meat, overcook it and it loses its wonderful eating qualities very quickly. Cook it perfectly and it is as good as any other meat. In short we need to get the nation to stop cremating their turkey on Christmas Day! So they may give it a chance the rest of the year.
If you weren't a turkey farmer, what would you have liked to have done?
In the early 80s when I was at college, wine bars served buckets of wine and Liebfraumilch and Piesporter were groovy. I wanted to own a chain of money spinning wine bars and a couple of night clubs. I however settled for the next best thing, being "a turkey farmer"!
What are some of your favourite wine tipples and what would you suggest quaffing with a Kelly Bronze over the festivities?
I just love good wine. Red is my choice at the moment but it is only a matter of time before I have a pang for white or rosé. I spent this summer eating roast turkey or BBQ turkey and salad with magnums of Aix en Provence rosé, it was marvellous.

I had a team of chefs on the farm yesterday and we were doing all sorts of wonderful things with turkey and we had Malbec from Marta's Vineyard Argentina, one of my favourite.

Good Rioja is probably my default option with our Christmas lunch bonanza.

An exquisite experience that I would throw out as a wildcard and recommend to anyone, is turkeys’ Testicles rolled in garlic flour lightly coated with egg and breadcrumb, and then deep fried. Serve them to your friends accompanied by really cold Puligny-Montrachet as the best scampi in the world and they will be blown away, especially when they find out what they really were!!
What other food styles/countries excite you?
Like wine I love food and there really is nothing I do not like. Quality Mexican food is right up there in my book. Indian is delicious, as is good Chinese. I am really into Sushi at the moment, as are all my family. Italian food at its best is wonderful.
I was in Argentina in May of this year and did have some great steak in what seemed to be the form of half a cow!! A great steak is almost unbeatable; the exception is a KellyBronze turkey cooked to perfection!

Your last meal (many centuries away); what would it be, who would cook it (might be you, but don't worry about the washing up) and what would you drink with it?
I would have my dad's Aberdeen Angus rib of beef (rare) along with turkey goujons fried in garlic butter, (cooked by my wife).

A side plate of Mozzarella and truffle pasta cooked by Gennaro Contaldo (oh my god it is amazing).

The veg would be roasted beetroot and butternut squash with chips cooked in beef dripping. (Cooked by my mum god bless her, this would be a challenge as she passed away in 2010!!).

Dessert is very simple for me. A huge slice of my wife's pecan pie with double cream, followed by my mum's sticky toffee pudding and jam roly poly with as many scoops of Häagen-Dazs Cookies and Cream as I could fit in my nearly full stomach!

To drink, I would start with a litre of Erdinger Weissbier followed by a bottle of the best Bordeaux.
What are your top tips to get the best out of your turkey?
Buy the best that you can afford and do not overcook it. If you get a KellyBronze or other turkey that is fully mature and dry plucked then cook it simply. Do not get phased out; just treat it like a big chicken.

Let the turkey get up to room temp before cooking.
*Get oven up to 180C/ 160C fan assisted.
*Season with salt and pepper and cook breast down for the first hour so the fat deposits in the back render down through the breast.
*After one hour turn the turkey over for the remainder of cooking time to brown the breast off.
*Use a meat thermometer to check when the turkey is up to temperature. This takes all the guess work out of if it is done or not.
*Let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes before carving, so the juices disperse throughout the meat. Do not cover in tinfoil, or blankets or sleeping bags. Otherwise the cooked turkey will sweat.
We also recommend cooking stuffing separately so the heat of the oven spreads evenly through the bird.

When and where are you happiest?
Three very easy answers. Sunday lunch with my family, in the woods with my turkeys and on the ski slopes whenever possible.
Where and what was your best meal ever?
My most memorable was on a boys' day fishing when Gennaro rummaged about in his bag and pulled out his favourite mozzarella cheese, tiny tomatoes, olive oil like I have never tasted, a huge truffle carefully wrapped in layers of tissue and some bread he made before leaving. In about three minutes he made a huge plate of mind blowing flavour. It was washed down with an extraordinary Barolo wine. It was so simple but so delicious, and eaten on a summer’s day with a load of mates by the river. What dreams are made of.

There so many to choose from (in terms of best) but the most recent was at Mark Hix at Browns Hotel and we had a venison meal to die for.

How many turkeys will you produce this Christmas and what's the best way for us to get hold of them?
We will produce about 30,000 KellyBronze turkeys out of a total Christmas turkey market of 10 million so we are a very small business really. Our hand plucking and wild in the woods production methods mean we are limited to how many we produce.
To get one simply go to and order one online for home delivery, or collection from our farm, or a KellyBronze farmer local to you. Put in your postcode and it will give suppliers close to you.

You hold the world record for carving a turkey – what is it and do tell us more about the Kelly Carve?
I carved a 5kg turkey into 15 servings, each 180 grams in weight, with both white and dark meat on each plate. All plated and ready to go in 3 minutes 19 seconds. Pretty quick if I say so myself.

The KellyCarve is to break the turkey down into what is called primal cuts before carving into servings:

Take the whole leg off, then cut the whole breasts off the bone, then take both wings off.

Now you can cut the meat into servings as required.

Just for info, I also hold the world record for plucking a turkey! Sad, is it not!?

Apart from getting your blood changed in January, how will you be relaxing?
Skiing, drinking, and eating followed by more of the same through February and March. It is my passion, second of course to KellyBronze turkey.

Nigel’s Turkey wine pairings based on Paul’s favourite tipples

“It's really worth getting a special bottle for Christmas Day and I think Pinot Noir pairs brilliantly with a tasty turkey. For the best I still head for Burgundy and it's great to get something with nearly a decade's ageing, so pull the cork on a Beaune 1er Cru 2004 from Louis Jadot. This beautifully voluptuous heady red has benefitted from at least a year in the Jadot cellars in Beaune. A gorgeous drop which should be decanted at least an hour before quaffing and is worth every penny of its £24.49. If you'd like to save on the pennies, head for New Zealand, where a Drylands Pinot Noir from Marlborough will set you back £14 and delivers a spicy, toasty, raspberry mouthful.

“Paul recommends another Burgundy with his turkey scampi, but a white one and our Ropiteau Puligny Montrachet 2008, would fit the Kelly requirements nicely but does weigh in at £35. The Domaine Rodet Château de Mercey 2008 is a another fine Chardonnay based Burgundy, but is rather more approachable at £14.99.”

"KellyBronze turkeys are the best of the best, the most joyful treat. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a KellyBronze turkey." Jamie Oliver


Written by: Nigel Barden

Nigel Barden 


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