The recommended portion is 1 pound of uncooked turkey per adult or a little over that if you want leftovers or are feeding a lot of teenagers. Consider buying two or more smaller birds instead of one large bird. This can cut down the cooking time as well as provide more drumsticks!
USDA recommends keeping the turkey cold, i.e., in the fridge or a cooler, to slowly thaw, either on a tray or "cupping" the bottom of the bird in foil to prevent accidental drips. Check occasionally to be sure it is really thawing. The rule of thumb is 24 hours thawing per 5 lbs. of bird. A thawed bird in the original wrapping is OK in the refrigerator for several days but optimally should be cooked within four days after thawing.
A good meat thermometer is really helpful to cook your heritage turkey to perfection. The essence of a free-range heritage turkey is its flavor. No industrial bird can tickle so many taste buds or provide the satisfying savor found in each bite of these throwbacks. That the meat is firm and has recognizable aroma and texture will come as a surprise to those who have eaten only the bland turkey designed for mass consumption. Note, however, the eater may invest a bit more time and energy chewing heritage turkey. These turkeys are not tough. They are firm. You eat slower and may be satisfied with a smaller amount.
There's no trick to preparing one of these heritage gems. They do have less fat so cooking at a low temperature, with moist heat at least part of the time, is a common approach. Another tip: While it robs the meal of the drama of presenting the whole turkey before carving, many veteran cooks cut their heritage birds into pieces before roasting. This allows dark and white meat to be cooked to the correct degree of doneness (dark to 180°F, white to 140°). Consider cooking your first heritage turkey with minimal seasoning including salt, adding additional as desired at the table. That way you learn what the birds really bring to the table. Add stronger seasonings the next time, if you wish.
Preorder Caveny Farm Bourbon Red turkeys for pickup before Thanksgiving or Christmas. All turkeys are pre-sold. No additional birds are available at pickup. Processing is done at an inspected plant operated by an Amish family. All turkeys are processed shortly before pickup and are delivered flash-frozen for peak flavor.
Caveny Farm delivers to select local & Chicago farmer’s markets for pickup for the holidays. Or choose on-farm pickup and get a $9 credit per bird! Order your Heritage turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas now before some sizes sell out!