Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cooking a heritage thanksgiving turkey

Now that the busy thanksgiving season is  coming to a close... our attention is turned to the final details of a perfect Thanksgiving meal. Heritage birds are quite different from conventional birds, and cooking must be adjusted for best results. Here are some general tips.

1: heritage birds cook faster.. much faster. Expect about half the time of a conventional bird.  Start checking for doneness at about what you would expect the halfway point to be, or earlier.

2: don't overcook! Heritage birds are best brought to no more then 165 degrees measured in the thickest part of the thigh. At 170 the meat will dry out quickly.

3: measure doneness with a meat thermometer, not a popular thing. Measure only in the thigh, not the breast.

4: stuffing is difficult. Due to the fast cooking, you have to precipitation the stuffing, otherwise it simply won't be done until the bird is much overcooked.

5: the temp you bake or roast at is not so important to the meat quality itself or doneness... but does determine the cripsiness of the skin. For golden brown crispy outside put some oil or butter on and cook at 375 or 400. For softer light brown skin cook at 300 to 350.

And remember... you will get equal portions of white and dark meat. These birds do not have the huge man made double breast. They have smaller divided breasts with a thick breastbone like a wild turkey.

Cooked right you will end up with a delightful juicy flavorful bird with meat texture that makes you doubt storebought conventional birds are even real. It really is that different!

After thanksgiving... do not waste the bones! It is incredibly simple to make the best turkey stock you ever tried. Just submerge the leftover bones in a large pot of water or slow cooker and lightly boil for a day or so. You can add a few peppercorns or a sliced onion and celery, and a little salt. When its done you will have excellent turkey broth that is both medicinal, nutritious, and delicious! Storebought canned broth can't even come close!

We wish you a happy holiday and encourage you to call of email if you have any questions!

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