The young hen turkey from Idaho described in an earlier post was used to make a traditional roasted turkey, Cornish pasties and turkey soup. One reason that I took this bird was to demonstrate to area ranchers who may have flocks of 50 or more birds wintering in their yards, that these birds can make excellent meals. With such a superabundance of wild turkeys, there is not reason for not using every legal opportunity to take some of these animal-feed-fed birds for the table.
Just as one would not take the oldest rooster in the flock for frying, the best meat will be obtained from young hen turkeys taken in the Fall and Winter. Leave the tough old toms for the sport hunter and the old hens to raise their broods.
As described in my books, pluck your bird, bake it in moisture with onions and celery completely tented up in aluminum foil. Do not brown. Browning only dries out the meat. The bird is done when the legs freely wiggle, as is demonstrated in the video.
I utilize the dark meat from the leg quarters and legs to make a Cornish pasty. This product is something like a turkey pot pie, without the container. It is cooked completely in a bread crusts that is stout enough to be handled without breaking. The recipe is highly variable, but usually contains some root product/s, such as carrots or turnips, potatoes and often English peas along with chopped onions and whatever meat is handy – deer, bear, or in this case wild turkey. If no wild meat was available, beef or mutton was often used.
Start boiling the root products first, then as they start to become tender add the potatoes and lastly the chopped pre-cooked meat, onions and a cup of the turkey drippings from the roasting. Salt and pepper to taste. The crust is rolled out from white flour and shortening to which a half-teaspoon of salt has been added. I use no baking powder in this, although you can add half a teaspoon of baking powder to the flour to make a softer bread covering.
After allowing the meat and vegetables to cook nearly dry, spoon them into the rolled-out crust, crimp and bake until browned in a 400 degree oven. You can serve with a mustard- horseraddish sauce or a tomato-catsup-horseraddish sauce, or without any at all. The most convenient size to make is one about a foot long that will easily feed two people.
My turkey soup is equally free-form. I boil the bones from the turkey carcass and in this case also the giblets from the bird. The meat from the back and any clinging to the carcass was chopped up and returned to the boil water and the bones fed to my large adult dogs (Not puppies.). Any left-over drippings from the bird was added to the pot. In the recipe shown in the video I used a few carrots, Irish potatoes, rice, onions and a small can of tomato paste. When vegetables are nearly tender, add rice and cook until rice is done. Adjust seasonings by adding salt and pepper to taste.
A video of this meal that also shows this year’s making of Cherry Bounce, (a vodka product, or other distilled spirit, which has been allowed to leach wild black cherries for some months) is shown in the accompanying video. If you have trouble viewing it here it is also on YouTube.