According to the Orvis company, which provides materials and advice for outdoorsmen, turkey is a very dry meat and can easily be overcooked. If you have successfully gotten your wild turkey home and are not sure what to do next, properly preparing the bird to be either frozen or cooked can make the difference between a delicious meal and a dry piece of meat on your plate.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Butcher knife
- Freezer bags
- Food brush
- Oil or butter
- Baking bags
- Baking pan
- Meat thermometer
Hang the turkey at your chest level, with the feet at least 12 inches apart. Remove the turkey's beard and fan.
Cut off the wings at the elbow joint. Grasp the skin at the tail end and pull it down toward the head, until it has passed off of the main body of the turkey and onto the neck. Cut off the neck; the head, neck and skin will come off together.
Remove all entrails from the inside of the body by scooping; if you hunted this bird yourself, you may have already performed this in the field. Cut off the legs at the knee joint.
Place the whole turkey in a large freezer bag, then cover with another freezer bag. Seal both bags airtight to prevent freezer burn. If you want to freeze individual parts, cut the legs, wings and breast from the main carcase and freeze each piece in its own double-layered freezer bag.
Place the bags in a freezer until you are ready to cook the turkey.
Stuff the turkey if you choose. Brush the turkey with oil or butter to help maintain moisture. Insert the full turkey into a baking bag. Add one cup of water to the bag and tie it closed. Baking bags can cook both stuffed and unstuffed birds.
Place the baking bag into a baking pan at least two inches deep. Bake the bird in an oven set to 177 degrees Celsius. Baking time is generally between one and three hours; generally, you should bake the turkey for 12 minutes per pound of meat.
Insert a meat thermometer into the turkey's thigh. If the thermometer reads 82.2 degrees Celsius, the bird is fully cooked. Do not eat the turkey unless you have reached this optimal temperature.
Tips and warnings
- Turkeys can be cooked in ways other than roasting, including grilling. Turkey parts can also be made into soup, gravy, strips and other types of food. However, if you choose not to roast the turkey, you should pluck the bird instead of skinning it; cooking in another way without skin will result in a loss of moisture and a dry meal.
- Make sure the turkey is thawed before attempting to cook.
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