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. The rule of thumb is 24 hours thawing per 5 lbs. of bird. Check occasionally to be sure it is really thawing. 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.
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. A good meat thermometer is helpful for cooking your heritage turkey to perfection.
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.
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.
The facility processing our turkeys (and much of the turkeys raised by small Illinois farmers) will not clean gizzards. This is good news for those not using the extra bits stuck in the bird as they no longer pay for it. It is bad news for giblet gravy lovers but outside our control.
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 in an Amish community. All turkeys are processed shortly before pickup and delivered flash-frozen for peak flavor.
The facility processing our turkeys (and much of the turkeys raised by small Illinois farmers) will not clean gizzards. This is good news for those not using the extra bits stuck in the bird as they no longer pay for them. It is bad news for giblet gravy lovers but outside our control.
Caveny Farm delivers to select local & Chicago farmer’s markets for pickup for the holidays. Or choose on-farm pickup and get a $12 credit per bird! Order your Heritage turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas now before some sizes sell out!