Wild Turkey à la USA Today
Upon hearing that USA Today Food and Drink Reporter Dan Higgins wanted to write about cooking a wild turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, this Wisconsin-based National Wild Turkey Federation employee was happy to connect him with a bird and a recipe. It’s fitting that Ben Franklin’s choice for our national symbol and Exhibit A for conservation success stories—in which the National Wild Turkey Federation and state of Wisconsin play leading roles—should appear, on this most American of holidays, in a paper called “USA Today.” The trick to preparing wild turkey and other game is keeping it moist and tender. This is accomplished, here, by slow-and-low cooking and pinning bacon strips to the bird; dried fruits provide bright, contrasting flavor. Wollersheim Pinot Noir or Ale Asylum Ambergeddon are local libations that won’t disappoint.
1 wild turkey, plucked
Coarse sea salt, fresh-ground black pepper, and poultry seasoning to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, minced
2 stalks of celery with leaves, chopped fine
1 cup dried apricots (or other dried fruit of choice such as cranberries, cherries, currants, prunes, golden raisins, or peaches)
1 quart of stale French bread, cubed
6 slices of thick baco
2 cups orange juice
Heavy duty aluminum foil
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Generously season goose inside and out with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Melt butter in a skillet and brown the onion and celery; allow to cool. Mix together with apricots and bread. Loosely stuff goose. Pin bacon strips to the goose breast using toothpicks; place in a large roasting pan. Add orange juice and over with loose “tent” of aluminum foil. Roast until meat begins to break away from the breastbone, basting every half hour with drippings. Allow bird to cool. If gravy is desired, skim fat from pan drippings and thicken with flour or corn starch. Carve as you would a domestic turkey and remove stuffing. Serve with home-made cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and whatever other trimmings your family likes.