Turkey is one of the most delicious birds without any doubt. However, the question is can you eat wild turkey?
Yes, the meat of a wild turkey is definitely edible. However, it takes longer to prepare and cook wild turkey meat because it is leaner and dry as compared to regular poultry meat. But when cooked with the right spices and flavoring, the meat becomes juicy and full of flavor.
Why is the meat of a wild turkey so dry, you might wonder. Well, to understand this and some other facts related to wild turkeys you will need to read this article to the end.
In this article, you will clearly understand the fact that the meat of a wild turkey is edible. Besides that, I will also tell you why is it tougher to cook and what makes it dry.
So without any further ado, let’s start.
Can You Eat Wild Turkey in the Summer?
This is the first thing that comes to our mind when we think of can you eat wild turkey. Well, the answer is yes, it is safe to consume wild turkeys in summer if they are cooked properly.
While answering this question let me tell you that the meat of a wild turkey tastes better during the wintertime because it becomes more flavorful and tender when it is cooked in cold weather.
Why is the Meat of a Wild Turkey Dry?
The meat of a wild turkey is dry and tough to cook because it has less fat in it. It is leaner than the regular poultry meat, and it contains only about 3% – 5% fat. Now you might be wondering that how can so much difference in the amount of fat affects the taste and texture of meat?
In fact, the fat in a turkey is what makes it so delicious. This is because it helps to limit bacteria growth, and preserves its freshness by stopping the meat from spoiling.
So basically if you want to eat a tender and moist dish then you will have to use a lot of spices. You can also marinate your wild turkey before cooking. This will help in adding flavor to the meat.
But if you are not marinating your wild turkey, then it is advisable to cook it for longer periods so that the meat can become tender.
Are Wild Turkeys all Dark Meat?
Wild turkeys are not all dark meat. Although it is true that the thighs of a wild turkey contain more fat as compared to other parts, but still there are some white meat areas as well that can be used for cooking purposes.
For example, the breasts of a wild turkey contain white meat and they can be cooked in many ways such as deep-frying, grilling, sautéing, baking, etc.
It is a common misconception that the dark meat of a wild turkey contains a gamey taste because it is tough to cook.
This is not entirely true because when you are cooking any kind of meat then if you cook it at a high temperature for a limited time, the meat will remain bland.
On the other hand, if you cook any kind of meat in a slow cooker or for a very long time, then it will cause the formation of an excessive amount of lactic acid in it and your dish will taste sour rather than being juicy and delicious.
Does Wild Turkey Have White Meat?
Although a wild turkey doesn’t have a lot of white meat. The only part of a wild turkey that is considered to be white meat is its breast area. In fact, the dark meat of a wild turkey contains more fat as compared to other parts.
But when you are cooking a wild turkey in a slow cooker or for a very long time, it causes the formation of lactic acid and makes your dish taste sour rather than being delicious.
How Long Does It take to Cook Wild Turkey?
The time required to cook wild turkey depends on its size and weight. If your bird is small and lightweight, you will only need to cook it for about 30-50 minutes. But if your bird is big in size and weighs more than 15 pounds then it will take longer than the regular turkey.
The cooking time of wild turkey can be further reduced by marinating it. Besides that, you also have to consider several other factors before cooking the meat. These factors include:
- The temperature at which you are cooking your turkey
- If you are cooking it in a slow cooker, oven, or grill
- The internal temperature of the bird
Also if your wild turkey has been frozen then its cooking time will increase by 2 fold or more. So always make sure that your wild turkey is fresh.
How To Check if Wild Turkey is Cooked or Not?
The USDA has set the internal temperature for cooking turkey to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This is also the recommended safe internal temperature that you should check before serving your dish.
However, there are several other ways to determine if wild turkey meat is cooked perfectly or not. These ways include:
To check if the meat is cooked properly, pierce it with a fork or knife. The juice that comes out should be clean and free of blood. Also, you should not notice any redness inside the bird’s cavity.
If your wild turkey is stuffed then first remove the stuffing before checking its internal temperature.
After cooking your turkey at a high temperature, check its internal temperature with a meat thermometer. This is the most accurate way to determine if your wild turkey is cooked or not.
Does Wild Turkey Taste Good?
There are several people that think that wild turkey does not taste good. But this is a common misconception. The truth is, if you cook a wild turkey in a slow cooker for too long, it will form too much lactic acid and the dish will be sour rather than being delicious.
On the other hand, if you cook it at a high temperature for a limited time, the meat will remain bland.
But if you grill or roast your turkey properly then it can make an amazing dish. It is considered to be one of the tastiest meats because it contains high protein and low-fat content.
Also read – Why don’t we Eat Rooster
How To Make Wild Turkey Tastier?
If you want to make your wild turkey taste/ better then marinate it in olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, and garlic. Also, try to baste your turkey while it’s cooking by applying the marinade on all sides of the meat.
Besides that, if your wild turkey is stuffed then remove its internal organs before cooking it because stuffing can make it taste bad.
How Long Does it Take for a Wild Turkey to Spoil?
Cooked wild turkey can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days if you cut and package it properly. However, it can stay fresh for about 6 months when well-wrapped in the freezer.
Before placing your cooked wild turkey in the freezer wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then place it inside a freezer bag.
Also, make sure that you do not leave any air pockets when wrapping your turkey because the air pocket will play a major role in determining how long your dish stays fresh in the freezer.
How Much Meat from a Wild Turkey?
One pound of raw wild turkey meat contains about 1/2 pound cooked meat. So, if you are cooking a 15-pound bird then you will get around 7 to 8 pounds of turkey after it cooks completely.
So, after cooking a 25-pound turkey you will get about 15 pounds of cooked meat. Besides that, if you are using wild turkey breast then the yield is even higher.
Also, according to USDA guidelines, one serving of cooked wild turkey contains 4 ounces of lean meat. So for every 3 ounces of raw meat you will have 1 ounce of cooked meat.
What Is Wild Turkey Best With?
If you are cooking wild turkey then it will taste amazing with the following ingredients:
Onion, celery stalks, green beans, carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, green pepper are some examples of vegetables that work well with wild turkey. Also, fruit like cranberry sauce, orange sauce, apple, or plum sauce goes really well with wild turkey.
As far as spices are concerned; oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, garlic salt, and pepper work best.
Is Wild Turkey Meat Good for Health?
It is a common misconception that wild turkey meat is not good for health. The fact is, it contains several nutrients that are essential for the human body.
Wild turkey meat is rich in iron and B-complex vitamins. It also has about 2 times more protein than white meat chicken. Additionally, wild turkey meat contains less fat when compared to beef and pork.
Why Does a Wild Turkey’s Meat Taste Dry?
If you are cooking a wild turkey then it will taste dry if the internal temperature is not enough. Another reason for your dish tasting dry may be due to overcooking or high heat but this depends on the type of cooker you are using.
Also, when preparing a wild turkey in the oven make sure that you place it at an appropriate temperature, for example, 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, if the turkey is stuffed then check that it reaches a high enough temperature to kill any dangerous microbes
What Is Wild Turkey’s White Meat Texture Like?
The texture of wild turkey’s white meat will be similar to chicken if it does not have too much fat inside. On the other hand, wild turkey’s dark meat like the legs and thighs is similar to the texture of duck.
Wild turkey is amazing meat that can be used in several recipes; however, you need to know the best way to cook it so that it has perfect taste and texture. Also, make sure that you prepare your wild turkey properly because if not then it can make you sick.
To cook your wild turkey quickly and without any hassle, use a meat thermometer to check that it is properly prepared. Otherwise, you can always ask your guests who are eating the prepared dish about their opinion regarding its taste.
If they love it then you have cooked it successfully but if not then perhaps there is something wrong with the ingredients or the way it was cooked.
So, if you are thinking of cooking wild turkey this year then make sure that you follow these tips on how to cook your dish properly.
The Healthiest Way to Cook Wild Turkey
If you want to cook a wild turkey in the healthiest way possible then it is recommended that you bake or grill your dish instead of deep-frying it.
Also, do not use any oils while cooking your turkey because oil can damage the muscle cells present in the meat and this will lower its nutritional value.
So, to cook a wild turkey in the healthiest way possible, always bake or grill your dish instead of deep-frying it.
What Is the Best Way to Cook Wild Turkey?
There are several ways you can cook a wild turkey and all of them have multiple benefits. However, roasting, steaming, and boiling your meat brings out its natural taste and flavor.
If you want to make a delicious dish then choose any one cooking method:
Roasting: Roasting is the best way of cooking a wild turkey because you will get meat that is tender and moist. Also, roasting imparts a mild smoky flavor to the dish and enhances the taste.
Steaming: Steaming your wild turkey makes your dish healthier and tastier at the same time. It cooks the meat evenly so you will get a dish that is moist and tender.
Boiling: If you want to enjoy the unique taste of your wild turkey then you must cook it using the boiling method because it brings out the natural flavors of turkey. Plus, boiling tenderizes the meat and ensures that all nutrients remain locked in the dish.
How Many Calories in Feral Turkey?
Wild turkey is a great source of calories. It contains 95 calories in every 100 grams of meat.
So, it is recommended that you use wild turkey meat in moderation, or else you may gain weight very quickly with this high-calorie dish.
When compared to other meats, the wild turkey has about half the calories present in beef and pork and one-third the calories present in chicken.
Can you eat wild turkey? Yes, of course, you can eat wild turkey just like the poultry one. However, there’s a lot of difference between the meat of a wild turkey and the one raised on the farm.
The first thing is that wild turkeys do a lot of walking and thus their muscle tissue is more developed compared to their domesticated counterparts.
In simple words, the wild turkey meat is a lot tastier than the regular one but has a little bit different texture. Due to the tougher and leaner meat structure, the cooking process and time of both wild turkey and a domestic turkey are different.