Cooking a Pasture-Raised Turkey
Most store bought turkeys are injected with vegetable oil, water, salt, emulsifiers, sodium phosphate, and artificial flavorings. Pasture raised free range turkey, on the other hand, has not been basted or injected. You may want to consider preparing your turkey in a brine like most chefs. Brine is a saltwater and seasoning solution that allows moisture to penetrate the meat.
Even a slightly overcooked turkey will be moist and juicy when prepared in brine. Brine also expedites cooking time, since water is a better conductor of heat than meat. Brine can be made from your favorite herbs and seasonings. Here is a basic recipe to get you started:
Basic Brine (the essential step)
• 1 cup sea salt
• 1 gallon filtered water
• 1 cup raw sugar or honey (optional)
• 1 bunch fresh sage (optional)
• 1 bunch fresh thyme (optional)
• 3 tablespoons black pepper (optional)
Bring all ingredients to a boil; remove from heat and refrigerate.
Place thawed turkey in a deep roasting pan that is large enough to allow most of the turkey to be submerged in the brine, or use a commercially available brining bag (available in Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table stores or on their websites). We use a 5 gallon food grade plastic bucket. If you use just the pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (or put in an ice chest if your refrigerator is full). Turn the turkey in brine every few hours if it is not fully submerged. Keep turkey in brine for 12-24 hours.