Care And Preparation Of Wild Turkey

When a variety of wild turkey hunters at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks were asked about preparing and handling wild turkey meat, there was unanimous agreement on a few important points.

Wild turkey is sensitive to over-cooking, as is most game meat, said Dwayne Andrews, of FWP’s Miles City office. Expect excellent white meat on the breasts, with dark meat on the legs that can be tough and must be cooked differently from the breast fillets.

Andrews recommends that the turkey legs go into the crock pot for stew with lots of vegetables.

I strip the meat off the bones before putting it in the crock pot. This is a good way to make use of dark meat on the turkey,” he said.

Another tip for keeping wild turkey meat tender is to brine it.

The recipe I have calls for a ratio of one cup kosher salt to one gallon of cold water, said Ken Staigmiller of FWP’s Great Falls office.

He said a little brown sugar to taste is optional and he soaks the turkey for 10 to 12 hours before cooking it.

Another area of agreement is that wild turkey can be successfully frozen.

“I fillet the meat and freeze it for later use,” Andrews said.

The difficult part with freezing a turkey is getting it wrapped securely to prevent freezer burn, especially if you don’t choose to fillet it,” said Jim Vashro of FWP’s Kalispell office. Try to limit the air space between the turkey and the wrapping as much as possible to prevent it from drying out in the freezer.

Vashro said he just ate a wild turkey he had frozen for seven months and it was fine.

I smoked it, which is a delicious way to prepare turkey, he said. I’ve also cooked wild turkeys with brown-and-serve oven bags which hold the moisture in since a wild turkey is leaner than a commercial bird.

A quick scan of the Internet shows other adventuresome routes to take with a wild turkey including barbecued, cajun deep-fried, chicken fried, creamed and in a deep dish turkey pie.

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