I am not one to strictly abide by recipes but generally cook with amounts and ingredients that sound good to me at the time. This usually works but I have seen some disasters result from people getting too carried away. A great meal of roast turkey can be ruined with too much seasoning or over-baking. This is especially true of wild turkey. With turkey season just around the corner, I thought I should share my guidelines in baking a turkey. This is by no means the only way to prepare your bird but I know this works, as opposed to some others methods that were not so good.
Step 1. Shoot your turkey. If given the option on getting a big old gobbler with a long beard or a young Jake with just a sprout of a beard, go for the Jake. The old gobbler will look better as a mount but can be tough and dry. The young bird will be much more tender and will not dry out as much during cooking. Turkeys can be difficult to kill. Make sure your bird is dead before you put it in the trunk of your car. This is even more important if it is your wife’s car. An angry turkey can really make a mess and will have a nasty attitude when you open the lid.
Step 2. As soon as possible, after weighing and pictures, clean the bird. I skin and clean as I would a pheasant as it is too much work to pluck all the feathers.
Step 3. Soak the bird in cold salt water in the refrigerator for several hours to remove excess blood. Change the water when you feel the need or when your wife tells you the bird looks disgusting with stray feathers floating in the water.
Step 4. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Step 5. Rinse your bird and pat him dry. Oil him all over and place a quartered onion and apple in the body cavity.
Step 6. Put a tablespoon of flour in a baking bag and shake. Rub the turkey with salt and pepper and lay strips of bacon over breast, legs and thighs. Carefully place your slippery bird in the bag with a cup of water, seal, and place in the over.
Step 7. Cook for one hour for every 4 pounds of turkey. This is the cleaned weight, not the bragging weight.
Step 8. When the hip joint is loose or the internal meat temperature reaches 180, your gourmet wild tom turkey is ready to serve.
Good luck and be careful during the next few weeks while turkey hunting. Moving around in the wee hours of the morning dressed in camouflage can be dangerous. Always be sure of your shot.