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The Marketplace : Sourdough Turkeys

November 18, 1990|BARBARA HANSEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Not all turkeys are made of flesh and bones. The bakers at Pioneer Boulangerie in Santa Monica make their turkeys out of sourdough. There are also sourdough pumpkins and sourdough cornucopias.

Epi Hernandez and his brother, Gabino, shape the holiday loaves for the Boulangerie. And they put a lot of detail into the birds. The tail feathers stand out, the wings are gracefully marked, the claws are defined, and a raisin marks the eye. A coat of olive oil is brushed on just before baking to give the turkeys a golden glow. (All the special breads are made with sourdough because it retains shapes better.)

The turkey-shaped breads are available all year long, but because demand increases during the holidays, the bakery suggests placing orders at least three days in advance. Turkeys, cornucopias and pumpkins are $8.95 each. For $1.99, you can pick up a 1-pound box of sourdough croutons for turkey stuffing.

Pioneer Boulangerie is located at 2012 Main St., Santa Monica. (213) 399-7771.

Thanks to a procedure developed in Italy, you can now buy chestnuts ready to pop into a Thanksgiving stuffing. The chestnuts, shipped frozen from Italy, are steam-peeled. The nuts are transported by donkey from the foothills of the Alps in northwestern Italy to a plant at Viterbo, south of Bologna. There they soak in water for two days and then spend a week in cool, humid underground caves. This makes the nuts sweeter and easier to peel.

After this leisurely preparation process, the nuts go through a machine that scores the shells and sends them into a chamber where they are blasted with high-pressure steam. This pops them out of the shells. The chestnuts are then flash-frozen.

In the United States, the chestnuts are distributed by Chestnut Hill Orchards of Alachua, Fla. According to the company, the chestnuts are grower-certified organic. Packed in 6 1/2-ounce bags, the chestnuts sell for about $3.49. One bag would equal at least nine ounces of nuts in the shell.

Local stores that carry Chestnut Hill Orchards products include Mrs. Gooch's Natural Foods Markets and Gelson's.

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