If you have a hunter in the family – or you’re a hunter yourself – you might have a wild turkey on hand for this year’s Thanksgiving feast. But before you get your wild turkey ready for the oven, there are a few things you’ll want to know about cooking wild turkey, as well as the proper method of preparation.
Will my wild turkey taste like a Butterball from the store? No. Wild turkeys are closely related to the domesticated breeds we’re used to eating, but still, they are different birds. Wild turkeys have more defined muscular structure. They’re less fatty, so they’re less juicy. Their meat is gamier in flavor, chewier in texture and there is relatively no breast meat. And, the little breast meat that does exist is not the white, plump meat we’re accustomed to from store-bought turkey. It’s darker and firmer (yet just as tasty).
Will I have to clean it? Maybe. Generally speaking, wild turkeys are going to come to you in the whole-bird state, unless given to you cleaned by a hunter friend or family member. Cleaning it is a pretty unpleasant task, to be honest, so you might want to consider taking it to a butcher shop that specializes in wild game. But if you are planning on cleaning it yourself for your feast – first choose a recipe. Next, decide if you’re going to skin it or pluck it. Then go online and check out skinning and plucking methodology – we found great information on the Divine Dinner Party website, which you can find here.
Is there a recipe that will suit all my guests? Probably not. A lot of people are used to domestic bird, so it might not be a bad idea to make a small store-bought turkey or turkey breast along with your wild bird. But since you’re trying something new by preparing wild turkey, why not go exotic? Below is a recipe from the Missouri Department of Conservation that seems like a sure-fire way to wow your Thanksgiving guests this year. Enjoy!
Roast Wild Turkey in White Wine with Mushroom Paté Stuffing
Pate Stuffing (amounts are for 10-12 pound bird)
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms (about 1/4 pound)
- 2 quarts fresh white bread crumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 pound chicken livers, finely chopped
Ingredients for basting and later use:
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1 clove garlic, halved
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 can (10 1/2 oz.) condensed chicken broth
- 1/2 cup white wine
Melt butter in skillet and sauté onion and mushrooms until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Turn into large bowl. Add chicken liver, breadcrumbs, parsley, salt, thyme, marjoram and pepper. Toss until thoroughly combined.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and dry turkey inside and out. Mix salt and pepper. Sprinkle part of mixture inside turkey. Spoon stuffing into neck and body cavity. Use twine to close cavity, fasten wing tips to body and tie ends of legs together. Place turkey breast up, in a deep roasting pan with a tight-fitting cover. Brush with oil and sprinkle the remaining salt and pepper. Roast uncovered for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Insert meat thermometer in turkey thigh at thickest part. Add onion, garlic, cloves, bay leaf and basil to roasting pan. Pour chicken broth and wine over turkey. Cover pan tightly. Roast, basting every 30 minutes, for 2 1/2 hours, or until thermometer reaches 185 degrees F. Leg joints should move freely. Remove turkey from roasting pan and remove twine to serve.
And don’t forget to stop into Charlie Johns grocery store for Thanksgiving feast needs – from cranberry sauce to turkey gravy, Charlie Johns is your one-stop shop for all your holiday dinner needs.