D’Artagnan on How to Cook a Wild Turkey
For Thanksgiving Wild turkeys are coming back in a big way. You've probably heard the terms floating around or filling your inbox. But what is wild turkey? It's is a true American original. It is a symbol of our country’s founding, of the settlers and of fall, food, and family. It is also one tasty bird.
To give you a little background information, wild turkeys are actually native to North America and have roamed the forests and fields for hundreds of years. In the 17th century, their population even reached ten million. Over the next hundred years, as the country expanded, the wild turkey population declined, and by the early 20th century had all but disappeared. Then in the late 1930s, the federal government established preservation programs that reinstated the population to healthy levels. This trend is increasing even more today as the demand for farm-raised and hormone-free poultry is becoming more and more popular.
D’Artagnan’s wild turkeys are the descendents of this original breed. They are farm-raised in a free-range environment and are some of the smallest turkeys available, weighing close to 10 pounds each. As active birds, their meat is firm and has a concentrated, rich flavor that is pleasantly gamey. They are real turkeys with real turkey flavor.
Wild turkey meat is lean and the flesh is denser than conventional turkeys and needs to be cooked in a slightly different way. You can follow the tips below to learn how to successfully roast a wild turkey. It also helps to use a recipe intended for these free-running birds; try D'Artagnan's Roasted Wild Turkey with Apple Sausage recipe or the Roasted Wild Turkey with Bourbon-pecan Stuffing recipe.
Braising is also an ideal method for cooking wild turkeys because it helps keep the meat moist and juicy. Try this two-meal recipe for Braised Wild Turkey Ragu as a first course and then Roasted Wild Turkey Breast with Fall Vegetables as a main.
D’Artagnan founder Ariane Daguin’s Easy Tips for a Succulent Wild Bird.
- Leave the turkey uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. This trick dries out the skin, which helps it to crisp as it cooks.
- Rub plenty of butter, or duck fat, all over the turkey before roasting.
- Shield the breast with aluminum foil, or cheesecloth soaked in stock or white wine, so that it does not dry out while the legs finish cooking.
- Roast the turkey in a foil-lined rack in a roasting pan, rotating it from one breast to the other. When the turkey is done, rest it breast-side-down.
- Baste the bird constantly during cooking.