I visited the Copas Turkey farm in Cookham last week for a press jaunt. We were invited for a sneak preview of their turkey-carving masterclass. After getting mildly lost down the back lanes of Cookham Dean I eventually found a kindly dog-walker who pointed me in the right direction. Turkeys, turkeys everywhere. Funny creatures they are, awkward and inelegant and surprisingly curious. These fabulous fowl known as the Bronze turkey, for the way their dark feathers glint like copper in the sun, are almost dog-like the way they gravitate to visitors, responding to our turkey mimics with a hearty group gobble. After meeting the team, including the heir to the empire, Tom Copas (the third) we were taken on a tour of the farm. There were turkeys in the field and turkeys in the shed, turkeys in the barn and turkeys in the tunnels. But as it’s not yet Christmas, there were no turkeys in the processing rooms. Yet. I won’t go in to details, but rest assured it’s as kind as it can be.
Copas turkeys are left to mature into middle age, which for a turkey is about 26 weeks old, when the fat starts to layer nicely, meaning happy, plump and juicy birds for Christmas that don’t need a thing but some seasoning a few herbs up the jacksie. The classes are a new venture for the local family business, who purchased a barn site recently where they’ll be holding the masterclasses from late October up to mid-December. Ranging from £35- £60 you can learn to carve a turkey, pluck and draw game, joint and bone poultry and they’re also going to hold classes where Brenda Copas will share her secrets to a stress-free Christmas day and tips on flower arranging. In-house baker extraordinaire Hannah will also be holding a Christmas Baking class for keen bakers and cupcake fanciers.
Tom Copas took us through the steps to carve a Christmas turkey. He certainly knows his way around the big bird and made it all look so simple. But the best thing was that we could all actually carry out the same steps with our test-chickens. I learnt how to separate the leg joint from the body, which has so far been my biggest hurdle in carvery. We got to taste the bird they’d kindly prepared earlier for carving, and it was divine, plus we also got to taste-test a new product they’re working on that involves breast fillet and lots of stuffing. Tom is a charming teacher and host and made the whole day loads of fun with his turkey talk and genuine love for the flock. I met Tom senior who joined us for some lunch that his wife Brenda had whipped up. I was enamoured with the salad-prowess of the turkey matriarch, who is also responsible for the Copas Coronation, Cranberry and Boxing Day chutneys and their stuffing range.
These classes are a great way for the Copas family, who have been farming in Cookham for over 300 years, to engage and connect with their customers and community and I’d recommend them for anyone looking to build up their poultry skills, have a bit of fun and wanting a little bit of a look-in to this local powerhouse of a family.
For more information and book your place in a Copas Turkey Masterclass visit www.copasturkeys.co.uk