Heritage Turkey - Roasting Instructions

In my own cooking style I do not cover the breast. Instead, I add additional fat to the breast meat by slipping fat, like butter or olive oil, under the skin over the breast. This is a method I use with all birds, except for duck. It makes the birds self-basting. If, along with the fat, you add under the skin of the breast crushed garlic, lemon, and herbs along with a little salt you are able to introduce additional flavors into the bird. It is also possible to work the oil and optional flavorings under the skin up over the thigh and leg.

I recommend roasting the turkey to a temperature that is significantly lower than the current custom. If you cook your bird to 140F you will help insure that the meat is moist. As stated previously, always start roasting with a bird that is at room temperature. A few hours before you plan to roast the bird, remove it from the refrigerator and let the bird come to room temperature. The deep flesh, not just the outer half-inch (1 cm), needs to be at or near room temperature before you roast it in order to achieve the best results. If the bird is at 34F (1C) in its interior parts when you start roasting it the breast will be dry long before the deep tissues are cooked. Because heritage turkeys tend to have little fat, I advise cooking them the way one cooks game birds — quickly. Roast in an oven at 425F to 450F. I would roast a heritage turkey to 140F, and no more. As always, let the bird rest for at least ten minutes before carving.

Submitted by Janet Duncan