When it comes to your Christmas turkey, KellyBronze is the name synonymous with super tasty.

Established in 1971, on a plot in Danbury and a smallholding in Maldon, the Kelly family went free range with their birds long before it was fashionable and brought back a bird – the bronze – that had fallen well out of foodie fashion.

Today turkey farmer Paul Kelly is at the helm of the business, started by his parents, and chefs from Jamie Oliver to Gordon Ramsey fall over themselves to praise the KellyBronze.

But just what makes these birds so special?

“It’s a unique breed. It’s the most mature turkey in the country,” explains Paul, who joined the business in 1984 – and prompted the Bronze move.

“The very first hatches of the season and we grow them totally wild in the woods and then we dry pluck them and we hang them at certain temperatures that are an absolute secret to give them the best maturation of the meat.

“You’ve got to have one to experience it, but the biggest thing is, if you follow our cooking instructions, because it’s so mature, it cooks at twice the speed of a normal bird.

“It will take a maximum of two hours to cook it.”

KellyBronze is expected to sell some 44,000 turkeys this Christmas - up from 35,000 last year - despite the challenge of convincing EU seasonal workers that the UK will still be a great place to work after Brexit.

“As it stands, they simply do not see a long-term and stable future here,” says Paul.

The birds are totally wild in the wood – and they have been known to escape.

“It happens all the time,” laughs Paul. “Turkeys get out.

“The thing with turkeys is actually that they’re nomadic, whereas with chickens, they have a coop, and you can free range them and they will always come back home.

“But chickens aren’t nomadic, they will actually stay in one place, whereas turkeys are.

“They will travel, if the turkeys get out, they do tend to wander a long way.

“We do work very hard to make sure the gate is shut and that the fences are bird proof!”

Nearly all of those 44,000 birds are here in Essex still.

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But what might people be surprised to know about KellyBronze?

“KellyBronze birds have the unparalleled luxury of living through every season, meaning they are matured to over twice the age of a standard industry turkey,” explains Paul.

“Some faster growing breeds are grown through just one season (autumn) for Christmas, but not the Bronze!

“We have the largest collection of varied breeds and feather colours in the world.

“I am always experimenting, but at the moment, the KellyBronze breed continues to be our bestselling and most favoured breed.

How has the business evolved since 1971?

“When my father started in 1971, he was doing some white turkeys. Very good and very nice job. Still dry plucking them and hanging them,” he says.

“But I came into the business in 1984 and we went round and bought all the last remaining flocks of bronze turkeys and then we started to free range them as well.

“And everyone in the industry, thought we were crazy – which we were.

“We were a bit before our time actually, because for the first four years – say 1984-88 – it was a nightmare.

“Then Delia Smith came to the farm in 1989 and Delia is the one that changed things for us massively.

“When Delia put us in her book, suddenly we were taken seriously.

“So, she gets a free turkey every Christmas. And she’s a very good friend!”

Paul’s not one to rest on his laurels - despite being awarded two gold stars in the Great Taste Awards this year.

“We were actually the first turkey business to win the gold stars a few years back,” smiles Paul.

“It’s business as usual for KellyBronze,” this year he adds.

“But I am on a personal mission to encourage the public to purchase a whole bird instead of a crown this Christmas.

“The perception tends to be that crowns are cheaper and easier to cook than a whole bird, but this simply isn’t the case.

“Plus from a sustainability standpoint the amount of waste created by the demand for turkey crowns is alarming.

“And next year we have a very exciting launch...the KellyBronze charcuterie range, so watch this space!”

When it comes to his own turkey on Christmas Day, is he hands on?

“I do indeed cook the turkey and I keep it simple,” he says.

“160c in a fan oven, cook breast down for one hour then turn it over for the remainder.

“I always pour a pint of water in the bottom of the roasting tin to catch all the lovely juices.”

And, finally, what’s his top turkey tip?

“For the best turkey crackling ever, remove all the skin as soon as you’ve carved the bird.

“It’ll now be much easier to peel the skin off the breast, legs and wings.

“And don’t forget the back of the bird (the triangular portion of flesh at the rear).

“Lay the skin out flat on a baking tray, season it with salt and pop it back in the oven at 180°C/360°F.

“It will take about 20-30 mins to get the most amazing turkey crackling – just don’t forget about it, as it will burn quickly!”

Visit www.kellybronze.co.uk