We got an eastern wild turkey from Anshu Pathak of Exotic Meat Market for Thanksgiving. However, we got invited to a friends house for Thanksgiving and put the turkey in the freezer and did not eat it until early January when we had some friends over for dinner.
|An eastern wild turkey we saw near Minneapolis.|
Unlike domestic turkeys that can't fly, Anshu raises these birds on his farm and they run wild and can and do fly. I picked the never-frozen bird up from his office a few days before Christmas and reluctantly froze it as indicated above.
|Your normal supermarket bird does not look like this.|
|It is fun to have it come with the head.|
Because it was not Thanksgiving and we were not devoting the day to it, we did not stuff the bird or do any special preparation other than putting it in a cooking bag in the oven. That was a mistake. We under-cooked the normal cooking time for a turkey of this size and still overcooked it. It was over-done, chewy and slightly gamy, something I've not experienced with the two previous wild turkeys we've cooked.
|Here is the bird, minus the head and legs.|
|The bird after cooking, still in the bag.|
|The browned and fully cooked bird.|
|A platter with some of the white and dark meat.|
A couple of thoughts and observations for future wild turkeys. First, you can't be casual with wild meat. There is much less room for error in cooking because it is less fatty. So give it proper attention. Second, brine it ahead of time. The brining will break down the meat a little bit and moisten it up. It will also help reduce or get rid of any gamy taste. Third, stuff the bird. There is nothing like good moist stuffing. Fourth, put butter under the skin to provide better moisture while cooking. And fifth, use a thermometer rather than rely on a cooking time gauged for a domesticated bird.