Johnson & Swarbrick are the leading UK poultry producer of turkeys, geese, guinea fowl and the famous Goosnargh duck and chicken. It all started with Kara Johnson’s father Reg when he met a young chef called Paul Heathcote who challenged him to create an English corn-fed chicken - which at the time, could only be imported from France. Continuing her late father’s legacy as a local poultry legend, Kara along with her uncle Bud and cousin Adam, now rear famous Lancashire-bred turkey at Swainson House, the family farm that overlooks the lush fells of the Ribble Valley.
All birds arrive at 1 day old; they’re then put into nursery sheds which are heated to a specified temperature for approximately 21-28 days. They’re then moved to adult sheds which are open, spacious and airy where the birds can roam free. Each day they are bedded with home-grown fresh barley and miscanthus – a high yielding energy crop.
Kara’s birds are so tasty because they’re slow-grown and raised on their own special feed mix, without growth promoters, antibiotics and other additives. They’re then dry-plucked for a crispy skin and hung to deepen the flavour, this gives a truly flavoursome bird that roasts to perfection.
The Christmas geese arrive in May as day-old goslings. Prior to Reg’s passing, there was no doubting this bird was closet to his heart “Geese are definitely my favourite. They’re comical characters”, “and they’re clever – and community minded. They stay in a circle, but the ones in the middle gradually get pushed out, so that each one takes a turn on the outside. I’ve always found them more interesting than any other bird.”“Goose is the ultimate in Christmas food,” he used to declare. “Lovely and luscious, with a gorgeous texture and so easy to cook. Rib of beef is delicious, but you can get it any time – goose is only at Christmas. And the fat makes the best roasties you’ll ever taste.”
Their famous cornfed birds are now supplied to the finest celebrity chefs up and down the country, including Gordon Ramsay, Mark Hix, Chris and Jeff Galvin, Marco Pierre White and Raymond Blanc.
If you’ve never tried one, we highly recommend it.