While most of us have at least some experience cooking a turkey, there are a few things to consider when preparing a pasture-raised bird.
Many conventional turkeys are injected with solutions to make them juicier and easier to cook. Pasture Raised Turkeys aren’t which means you have to focus on holding onto your pasture-raised bird’s natural juices.
But before we get to that, the turkey will need to thaw. No, we don’t expect anyone to simply toss their frozen turkey in the oven and hope it comes out cooked to perfection. But for the purposes of planning, know that it will take about three days for the turkey to thaw in a refrigerator. After that you’ll want to bring the bird to room temperature before cooking.
The best way to preserve your turkey’s moisture is to separate the meat that takes longer to cook.
Basically, we’re removing the dark meat to allow it to cook longer without drying out the rest of the turkey. Another note on planning: Your bird will dry brine (a method of tenderizing meat via salt and time) in the fridge for an additional 24 hours after seasoning.
Before setting the turkey in the fridge, it’s a good idea to spread salted butter and rosemary between the skin and the actual meat, sealing in those delicious natural juices.
Below is the simple recipe we recommend for getting the most out of a Farmer Girl Meats turkey. Still, be inspired in the kitchen and express your creativity through your cooking and by combining your own methods with ours. The kitchen is your studio. The recipe below is our adaptation of a piece in the November-December 2014 issue of Cooks Illustrated titled, How to Cook a Heritage Turkey.
Want a Pasture Raised Turkey this year? We Deliver! Learn more about our Pasture Raised Turkeys.
How To Cook A Pasture Raised Turkey Guide
Serving Size: 15 to 20 servings
Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: About 3 hrs.
Ingredients and Utensils
- One thawed Farmer Girl Pasture-Raised Turkey, neck removed
- 2 tablespoons of room temperature butter
- Kosher salt
- Rosemary sprigs – As much or as little as desired
- Good meat thermometer
- Good sharp knife
- Roasting pan and rack
1.) Thaw the turkey for 48 to 72 hours in the refrigerator. To speed up the thawing process, begin thawing on the counter overnight in a pan at room temperature. In the sink, open up the turkey and remove the neck and giblets (reserve the neck for stock or gravy; discard giblets). While the turkey is still in the sink, drain the cavity juices. Place the turkey on a cutting board and pat with a paper towel to dry and remove the moisture.
2.) Coat the roasting rack with a non-stick cooking spray, such as coconut oil.
3.) Remove the legs: Using a sharp knife, slice through skin between breast and thigh down to the joint on both sides. Using your hands, pull each leg quarter back to expose the joint between leg and breast. Remove the leg by cutting through hip joint and then skin. Repeat with remaining leg quarter.
4.) Remove the Backbone: Slice through membrane connecting breast to backbone, then bend the backbone away from the breast to break where it meets rib cage; use your knife to remove completely.
5.) Applying the Rub: Make a compound butter by mixing 2 tablespoons of room-temperature butter with a generous amount of kosher salt. Gently separate the skin from the meat on the legs and the breast using your fingers. Rub the compound butter on the meat, under the skin to create a rich moisture barrier. Place rosemary sprigs under the skin .Place turkey legs and breast–skin side up–on roasting rack. Tuck wings underneath breast. Sprinkle kosher salt evenly over the breast and legs to create a salty crust. Make sure the skin covers the meat. Refrigerate the turkey, uncovered, for 24 to 48 hours.
6.) Cooking the Turkey: Heat your oven to 250 degrees. Adjust the oven rack to lower-middle position. Transfer breast to large plate and set aside. Flip leg quarters skin-side down on roasting rack and place in oven; roast until thighs register 140 degrees–45 to 75 minutes. Flip leg quarters skin-side up and place breast, skin-side down, on roasting rack next to the leg quarters. Return to the oven and roast for 1 hour. Flip breast skin-side up and continue to roast until breast registers 155 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees–1 ¼ to 2 ¼ hours longer. Remove the turkey from the oven and let rest for 30 to 60 minutes.
7.) While the turkey is resting, increase oven temperature to 500 degrees. Stack the turkey assembly on second baking sheet to prevent excess smoking. Return the turkey to oven and roast until skin is golden brown and crispy, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer turkey to carving board and let rest for 20 minutes. Carve your turkey, serve and Enjoy!