Turkey hunting is rewarding in and of itself. Bagging that first bird of the season after spending hours in the field with all your gear could not be more satisfying. But in addition to the thrill of the catch, there is nothing more rewarding than sitting down to your cooked bird at your dining room table.
Wild heritage turkeys take much longer than captive white turkeys to reach slaughter weight. They subsequently have more flavor, enhanced by its freedom of movement. Moreover, there is much more of this flavorful meat compared to the captive breeds. That’s because heritage turkeys have a larger proportion of bone to meat than their captive counterparts.
Heritage turkeys are also typically much leaner than the standard turkey. This means you enjoy a healthier cut of bird with much less fat content. But this also means, if not properly cooked, will dry out and your kill will be ruined. The first step to avoid drying out your bird is to ensure its at room temperature before your cook it.
If your turkey meat is at room temperature it won’t seize up and toughen, making it less enjoyable to chew. This is because when the meat is cooked when it’s at room temperature- rather than chilled- it will cook through much faster and more evenly. Also to avoid drying out the turkey, cook it for a shorter period of time.
Stuffing the bird also slows cooking time, so just seasoning the outside of the bird and separately cooking the stuffing is recommended. Also to avoid prolonged cooking time, remove your turkey from the oven as soon as it reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees. Finally, and most importantly, make sure your turkey stands for 20 minutes to reabsorb juices before you carve it. Following these steps will ensure your bird won’t dry out when cooking.