Thanksgiving Wild Turkey From 'The Wild Chef'


[Photograph: Travis Rathbone]

There are a few wild turkey recipes in Jonathan Miles's new cookbook, The Wild Chef, but none are as iconic as the Thanksgiving turkey. Gloriously golden, with ultra-crisp skin, this stuffed bird is truly a thing of beauty. It's a simple recipe, cooked for a couple of hours in a moderate oven, but one trick helps to maintain the integrity of the lean breast meat: a couple of coats of pork fat and a sheath of fatback, salt pork, or bacon.

Why I picked this recipe: While I'm not necessarily a "bacon goes on everything" person, I do believe that a slice or eight can do wonders to a lean wild (or heritage) turkey.

What worked: I loved this turkey—easy, well-seasoned, and super pretty. What more could you want?

What didn't: The recipe doesn't mention how to divide up the pork. I used 1/4 pound, minced, for the stuffing; 1/4 pound, minced, for brushing; and 1/4 pound, sliced, to top the bird in the oven.

Suggested tweaks: If you aren't planning on hunting down a wild turkey this year, you could use any smallish bird following these same directions. This recipe works particularly well for leaner, darker heritage breeds. If you're roasting a larger bird (more than 14 or 15 pounds), you'll want to adjust the cooking times by increasing both the 350 degree cooking time and the 375 degree cooking time. Cover the bird with aluminum foil if it starts to brown too much before the meat is cooked.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have 5 (five) copies each of Choosing Sides and The Wild Chef to give away this week.