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  • Help, I killed my turkey twice!

    This was the first year that I got to hunt for turkeys. And, after three weeks of learning, I finally called in a jake. It was probably a combination of beginners luck and a truly stupid bird but I was thrilled regardless.

    i skinned the bird and decided to smoke it as I normally do with farm raised turkeys. Since this was my first wild turkey i decided to do an experiment and also smoke a store bought turkey breast at the same time. I Used the same brine but covered the wild turkey with bacon strips to try to keep it from drying out.

    I failed miserably! As soon as the temperature hit 160, i took it out of the smoker but it was closer to jerky than smoked turkey. Yet the store bought turkey was great.

    So can anyone tell me what I did wrong? What is the safe temperature for wild birds? Should I have tried injecting brine or seasoning?

    I hope to try again next year so any help will be aappreciated!

  • #2
    I have a lot of experience with both cooking wild turkey and hunting them, so maybe I can offer some advice.

    I hunted and killed my 2 spring birds and 1 fall bird every year for a long time, but I had a terrible time getting them to come out edible, they always dried out. I tried cooking them in a bag, tried injecting them with butter and other stuff, but it never made any difference, they were still miserably dry. So bird after bird I kept experimenting and finally came up with two methods that worked out well.

    One tasty way to prepare them is to strip them up in thick slices, then beer batter and fry, super tasty. I never tried battering and frying the entire bird, but I'm guessing it would probably work.

    Another fairly successful method is to pluck, not skin, then cook it as you would a typical store bought bird in a roaster pan. But if you use this method make sure to cook it slow and baste it regularly throughout the cooking process with lots and lots of butter and olive oil. My wife has injected them with butter also, and make sure to get some injected into the drums and thighs, those birds spend their entire lives running, so unlike a farm raised birds, the legs are very tough and dense.

    I have a friend that has one of those big turkey fryers, he says he leaves the skin on then just fry's them whole like you would a regular domestic bird and they come out great.

    Another fellow says he leaves the skin on also, but he cooks his covered with aluminum foil in his big covered barbecue.

    Now I do recall many years ago my life long best friend dug a really, really deep pit with a back hoe, he filled it with about a cord of hard wood, he used mesquite, then burned the mesquite down to super hot glowing coals,a good 4' deep coal base. He was hosting an out door New Years Eve party for a bunch of our friends, we had at least 60 -70 people show up. So we were doing a couple of couse deer / venison, an elk hind quarter, the ribs and back straps, not an entire elk, a whole javelina, 30 - 40 whole quail, 10 or 15 pheasant, a few ducks, and of course 5 or 6 wild turkey that he and I had killed that year. We didn't skin the quail, turkey, pheasant or the ducks. We added a massive amount of vegetables inside and around the game, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, celery, sme garlic cloves, and some cut up papaya in each bag. Then we tightly wrapped them with layer after layer of cheese cloth and game bags to keep the veggies tightly confined around the meats. Once this was done, we placed them in large burlap sacks, doubled over multiple times to create multiple thick layers, then used bailing wire to get the burlap real tight around them to keep the inner contents densely packed together. Then doused them with vegetable oil, then soaked them in large new trash cans filled with water and various spices for several hours to get the sacks and inner cotton cheese cloth and game bags completely saturated. I think for about 4 or 5 hours.

    Once all this prep was accomplished, we laid a sheet of galvanized steel over the hot coals, then placed the sacks of game meats on top of the galvanized, then sealed the top of the pit with 2 sheets of galvanized, then sealed it with a heavy layer of dirt to make it air tight to insulate and keep the heat in, and to keep any air from getting in. We let everything cook undisturbed for at least 24 hours or so. When we had uncovered it the temperature inside was unbelievably extreme. We removed the sacks using a pitch fork, as it was too hot to get them out any other way. We carefully cut the burlap off to avoid getting any dirt or grit from getting on the inner wraps, then laid the inner sacks on a long string of camp tables used as serving tables. Then cut the inner cloths open to fully expose the meats and veggies, no serving trays necessary. The game meats were moist tender fall off the bone quality, never had a game meat extravaganza that was as tasty as that turned out, succulent, even the javelina was outstanding.

    Anyone hungry after that presentation?

    HBC

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    • #3
      HBC, Can't top that!

      I've killed several wild turkeys over the years. I use two methods of prep.

      1. Slice the breasts into 1" square strips. Coat strips with flour. Dip floured strips into an egg wash (one Tbsp of water per egg mix), roll egged strips into crushed cornflakes (I make the crushed flakes by putting the CF into a food processor and pulsing a couple of times.) Deep fry coated strips. Optionally, brush your favorite wing sauce on the deep fried strips and place in a 350* oven for 10 minutes to "set" the sauce.

      2.(Which I posted here before.) Make Sausage: https://www.handloadersbench.com/for...eakfast-sauage
      Every once in a while in life we need a policeman, a lawyer, a doctor and a preacher. We need a farmer three times a day, every day.

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      • #4
        When you skinned the bird, you made it a lot harder, to end up with moist smoked bird, it's best to pluck bird and leave skin on.

        Make a weak brine, enough to cover bird. (couple gallons or more)

        For each gallon of brine
        2 QTs hot water
        1/2 cup kosher salt ( 1/4 cup plain non-iodized salt, can be subbed)
        1 cup brown sugar
        Diced onion
        1 tsp to 1 TB black pepper (to your taste)
        1/2 tsp garlic powder or crushed fresh clove of garlic
        l
        one beer of your choice (Lager or IPA, depending on your taste)
        cold water or ice, to bring to gallon

        Dissolve salt/sugar into hot water, add spices and onion, let cool, then add beer and ice, to bring to gallon.
        Brine at least 12hrs, up to 24hrs @ 33-37f.
        Drain and spatchcock bird, place skin side up, overnight on rack (uncovered) in bottom of frig
        Smoke low and slow (225f or lower) (skin side down, first hour or so, turn skin up to finish) until breast reaches 150f and leg/thighs 165f (3-4hrs avg)
        Let rest at least 1/2hr, before carving. Serve with Lingonberry jam, (cranberry jam works in pinch)

        Brining retains moisture, letting skin dry overnight, lets skin absorb smoke and crisp better. This also works well with other fowl, such as ducks, quail and dove breasts. If you skin instead of pluck, brush often, with flavored cooking oil, while smoking or grilling.
        Columbia Falls, MT
        If we don’t speak out against the infringements of today, it will weaken our ability to stop the next infringements.
        Since it took 26th Amendment to change voting age, expanding rights under 14th Amendment. Why doesn't same requirement, to restrict rights, extend to 2nd Amendment?


        NRA Benefactor Life, NRA Ring of Freedom, NRA-ILA Partner in Freedom, GOA Patriot, SAF, Oath Keepers

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        • #5
          Thanks for the ideas - I wish I had asked before skinning the bird. And, yes, HighBC, you have made me hungry but I doubt that I will ever have a feast such as yours!

          RD, both the sausage and the fried turkey chunks sound great.

          RobertMT, you are right about keeping the skin on the bird. I Used a brine recipe very similar to yours but used hard Apple cider instead of beer. I found it give the meat and gravy a slightly sweeter flavor.
          Last edited by OconeeMark; 05-21-2018, 14:36.

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          • #6
            I often use cider instead of water, especially for pork. Duck or turkey, does pretty good with overnight soak in buttermilk, then a double coating of cornmeal and quick fry.
            Columbia Falls, MT
            If we don’t speak out against the infringements of today, it will weaken our ability to stop the next infringements.
            Since it took 26th Amendment to change voting age, expanding rights under 14th Amendment. Why doesn't same requirement, to restrict rights, extend to 2nd Amendment?


            NRA Benefactor Life, NRA Ring of Freedom, NRA-ILA Partner in Freedom, GOA Patriot, SAF, Oath Keepers

            Comment


            • #7
              RobertMT, I forgot to as what type of wood you use for poultry?

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              • #8
                If I use apple cider in brine, I use apple wood. If I use maple syrup for the sugar, I use maple. Cherry is very good for duck, it's a strong sweet smoke, that can overpower chicken or turkey. It can be good, to mix a bit of it in with, milder wood. Plum can work OK, pretty mild. I have plum, cherry, and apple trees, so I use the pruning's. I peel most of the bark off, otherwise it's strong and bitter. I save the hickory, pecan, and oak for pork.
                Columbia Falls, MT
                If we don’t speak out against the infringements of today, it will weaken our ability to stop the next infringements.
                Since it took 26th Amendment to change voting age, expanding rights under 14th Amendment. Why doesn't same requirement, to restrict rights, extend to 2nd Amendment?


                NRA Benefactor Life, NRA Ring of Freedom, NRA-ILA Partner in Freedom, GOA Patriot, SAF, Oath Keepers

                Comment


                • #9
                  Well once again I'm the lone heretic. I don't pluck or skin. I fillet out the breast. Cook it any way you like to cook chicken breast. On a wild turkey the wings and drumsticks just aren't worth the effort.

                  If you really want to cook it like a domestic turkey then plucking is your only option. Be prepared for a lengthy job. Those little pin feathers can be a pain. We always wet plucked our birds. Dip it in a large pan of hot water. The feathers pluck much easier and don't seem to stick to everything as much. You can't get the water too hot or dip the bird too long or you risk scalding it which damages the skin. Thus, after many plucking sessions I just fillet out the breast.
                  If it weren't for double standards, liberals would have no standards at all.

                  "Ammo and really good friends are hard to find in a gunfight so I bring them with me" E. J. Owens

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by OconeeMark View Post
                    This was the first year that I got to hunt for turkeys. And, after three weeks of learning, I finally called in a jake. It was probably a combination of beginners luck and a truly stupid bird but I was thrilled regardless.

                    i skinned the bird and decided to smoke it as I normally do with farm raised turkeys. Since this was my first wild turkey i decided to do an experiment and also smoke a store bought turkey breast at the same time. I Used the same brine but covered the wild turkey with bacon strips to try to keep it from drying out.

                    I failed miserably! As soon as the temperature hit 160, i took it out of the smoker but it was closer to jerky than smoked turkey. Yet the store bought turkey was great.

                    So can anyone tell me what I did wrong? What is the safe temperature for wild birds? Should I have tried injecting brine or seasoning?

                    I hope to try again next year so any help will be aappreciated!
                    First off, did you dry smoke or wet smoke?

                    I virtually NEVER dry smoke, only jerkey, cheese, or a particular recipe I have for smoked, pickled eggs to make scotch eggs from.
                    Essentially cold smoking.
                    All other smoking is wet.
                    I have never smoked a live turkey, I started smoking Turkeys about 1994 and smoke 2 to 4 a year ever since. 10 to 26 pounds.

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                    • #11
                      Skin always dries out on me, I cover the skin with a piece of oiled cloth (butter or oil) keeps it from leathering, either that or just peel off before slicing, either way.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Damannoyed View Post

                        First off, did you dry smoke or wet smoke?

                        I virtually NEVER dry smoke, only jerkey, cheese, or a particular recipe I have for smoked, pickled eggs to make scotch eggs from.
                        Essentially cold smoking.
                        All other smoking is wet.
                        I have never smoked a live turkey, I started smoking Turkeys about 1994 and smoke 2 to 4 a year ever since. 10 to 26 pounds.
                        I wet smoked it. But even with the water pan full and bacon strips wrapped around the breast, it was the driest turkey I have ever tried to eat. Next time I will either leave the skin on or follow some of the other recipes. Skinning it was just too easy. I never did that with ducks and I should have realized that easy rarely means smart.

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                        • #13
                          This is what I've discovered as a good way to cook wild turkey..
                          Do not skin the turkey, melt two sticks of butter , add seasonings like salt pepper garlic &onion powder (or your favorite cajun seasoning ) add spices to taste, I put in a 1/2 cup of honey.
                          Melt and mix and then inject the butter all over and into the turkey. Pack the cavity with a lemon, orange and/or onion . rub down the outside with olive oil and sprinkle with cajun seasonings .
                          All of this is to add moistness.
                          Brown and Bag it....get the turkey sized Brown and Bag and follow the directions...it will come out great !

                          I've done smoking, deep frying, oil-less frying aka roasting and hands down the old school brown and bag comes out the best tasting and moistest....May be a combination of injecting-stuffing with citrus - baking in a bag I don't know....but it works best.
                          Gary

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