What Can You Use to Make a Wild Turkey Lose the “Gamey” Taste?
- Jack Daniels
Even salt on its own won’t kill that gamey flavor, but when you use it to make a brine, your turkey will be tender, juicy, and not so gamey. Jack Daniels? We recommend you avoid that until the dinner is done, lest you start stuffing the turkey with pumpkin pie. Butter and sage make a great rub, but it’s more for flavoring than removing any gamey taste.
Some of us aren’t the best planners, and that’s okay. You can put your frozen turkey in a brine for a couple of days, and it will be thawed and tender in time for dinner. In fact, if your turkey is thawing right now and you want it to be tender and juicy, you can drop it in a brine now and benefit from it tomorrow.
You’ll need one tablespoon of salt for every two cups of water. For something as large as a turkey, you can line a five gallon bucket or even a cooler and fill it with brine and the turkey. You don’t have to limit your recipe to salt and water either. If you want a bit more flavor, replace water (or some water) with chicken broth. Add herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme and/or savory to the brine.
Perfecting Turkey Skin
One of the biggest mistakes people make on the turkey skin is forgetting to pat it dry. Just like a roast or any other meat will better brown when frying after you pat it dry, so does a turkey skin. So, rinse off the brine and pat down the turkey, even if you don’t do anything else to it before it goes in the oven.
For the better part of the cooking time, keep the turkey covered with a lid or aluminum foil. This keeps the heat focused on the meat, while keeping the skin from drying out. For about the last half hour of cooking the turkey, remove the lid or tin foil so the skin can brown. Be sure to baste the turkey every now and then with and without the lid in order to help the skin be more flavorful and not dry out so quickly.
Keep in mind when cooking wild game, there is less fat on wild animals. That means they don’t have the fat that commercial meats do, which can add to the juiciness of the meat. Brining forces the cells to seal in water, but you can make your turkey even tastier with a butter and sage rub.
Butter and Sage Rub
This rub is going to go under the turkey skin, to add some flavor and juiciness to the meat. Slide your hands under the turkey skin to separate it from the meat. Now, slide a fork under the skin and perforate the meat, especially in the thicker parts, like the breast. This allows the rub to melt into the meat rather than just on top of it.
Mash two sticks of real butter in a bowl, but do not melt it. Add rubbed sage to taste, and mix it in with the butter. Pack the rub under the skin of the turkey, and mash down any clumps so that all the butter isn’t in one place.