Jerseyans’ pride in local produce and seafood seems boundless. But not everyone knows that the premium turkey trade thrives here, too.
One standout source, Hinck’s Turkey Farm in Manasquan, has supplied naturally raised birds since 1938. This multi-generational family business has evolved into a go-to for everything turkey, with a retail store that provides one-stop shopping for your family feast. It’s a turkey world.
Hinck’s Thanksgiving turkeys, sold raw or rotisserie-roasted, must be pre-ordered. But if you’ve got your bird in hand, this is the place to score all the tempting, traditional fixin’s: South Jersey cranberries, gravy, cornbread-sausage stuffing, mac and cheese, potatoes (sweet, mashed and au gratin), apple crisp (appealingly considered a side here)—and green vegetables.
Year-round, Hinck’s sells kitchen-made, turkey-centric dishes “for any day,” says Margie Hinck Longo, the secretary and co-owner of her family business. The store’s kitchen makes it all daily: turkey meatloaf, turkey chili, soup, pot pie, breaded cutlets, barbecue-style pulled turkey, ground turkey, turkey burgers, turkey sausage, Margie says. “Our turkey croquettes are a favorite of mine. Tender neck meat, mushrooms, egg, cream.”
You can dine at Hinck’s, too, in a retro-feeling, 16-seat dining nook open all day. It’s bedecked with “antique china turkey platters donated by year-after-year customers,” says Margie. And no surprise: That menu is strong on turkey. Or you can order a loaded sandwich from the store’s deli counter—“really packed with meat,” she says. Hinck’s Thanksgiving Day Sandwich, a year-round favorite, combines turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce.
Individual dinners to go are also available, and entrées can be turkey, of course, or salmon, Virginia ham, pork loin, spare ribs, tuna casserole and others. They all come with three sides and gravy or sauce. For group dinners or events, Hinck’s offers home catering “for any occasion or reason,” says Margie. “Whatever your needs: complete family dinners, holiday feasts, party platters, sandwiches, desserts, tailgating, pig roasts, office events.”
When Hinck’s customers ask Margie about the cooking style of the food, “I tell them, ‘It’s your mom’s recipe,’” she says. “The recipes are in fact my mom Alice Hinck’s. She was a great cook and really knew how to bring out flavor. I think of her—I mean our—food as farmhouse classics, and that’s the best kind of home cooking. We use fresh ingredients, and we don’t cut corners. The food is buttery, it’s perfectly seasoned, it’s delicious.”
Dessert is handled by “my sister Mary, who has baked her whole life,” says Margie. “Her pies are the best. Pumpkin, pecan, apple. She also makes apple crumb cake and a vanilla cake with chocolate icing. It’s all available to go at the store.”
Margie’s family has made New Jersey its home since the 1920s. Her grandfather, Henry Hinck, moved from Queens to Lakewood, she says. “He came from a long line of farmers and started up a chicken farm in Lakewood. My dad, Richard, would deliver chickens and eggs to the farm’s customers up and down the Shore,” she says.
“People started asking for turkeys, and Granddad switched to raising them,” she says. “He had to sell part of his land to the state to accommodate the Garden State Parkway, and our billboard was a Parkway landmark. The farm was still plenty big, and to this day we raise our turkeys there.”
Turkeys turned out to be “a better business for the family,” says Margie. “They grow more slowly than chickens, so you can raise really high-quality flocks. We get shipments of turkeys when they’re two days old and the size of a sparrow. I say, ‘The flock that grows together stays together.’ They go through their lives as a sort of turkey community,” she says. “We care for numerous flocks at all stages of growth, and they’re full-grown at four to sixth months. We raise around 10,000 turkeys annually.”
Margie believes that their turkeys’ lives are as good as can be. “They’re home-grown and have been looked after by our farm manager, my nephew Richard, since he was a teen. He now lives in the farmhouse with his own family,” she says.
Margie is keenly proud of Hinck turkeys. “The way we raise them allows them to just be turkeys,” she says. “They stay healthy and love the sunshine. Their coops are airy pole barns that we keep scrupulously clean, so they don’t get sick. We protect our flocks from predators, and we feed them a high-protein diet with soy and whole grains. No hormones, antibiotics, anything like that. Later on, we mix corn in their feed to add fat to their meat. Ultimately, Hinck turkeys’ special taste reflects the care we give them.”
Hinck’s Turkey Farm, 1414 Atlantic Avenue, Manasquan; 732-223-5622.
Click here to leave a comment