Your Wild Turkey
The traditional way to
clean a wild turkey is to pluck the feathers off and
then gut the bird. This will keep the skin on the
turkey which will give it more moisture and flavor
after you cook it. You can also save the "giblets"
(heart, liver, gizzard) from the bird and make a traditional
turkey gravy later when you cook it.
It is preferable to pluck
the turkey before removing the entrails. This keeps
feathers from getting inside the bird cavity and in
general keeps things cleaner. If you've already field-dressed
the bird, don't worry about it but be sure and rinse
out the cavity good to remove any feathers when you
are done plucking.
Turkeys have over 5,000
feathers on them and it is easier to remove them if
the bird is dipped in hot water. Some people use boiling
water but many people swear that water at 140 degrees
is the optimal temperature for plucking a bird. Once
a bird has been dipped in hot water, the feathers
will come off much easier and they also are easier
to handle since they are damp and they won't fly around
the room. A large washtub is best for dipping the
bird but you may have to improvise if one's not available.
The large primary wing feathers can also be a problem
and it's easier to just remove the wing at the first
joint past the shoulder so those very large primary
feathers don't have to be pulled out.
If you have left the
legs on to help you dip the bird, you now need to
cut them off. Then it is time to go ahead and remove
the entrails by gutting the bird. This process is
basically the same as Field
Dressing with the exception of needing to
remove the head with a large knife, cleaver or hatchet.
Some people also like to use the neck to toss in the
stock pot. That is your choice. You can also save
the turkey giblets (heart, liver, gizzard) and use
them to make a traditional turkey gravy. The gizzard
is what allows the bird to grind up its food. Be sure
and cut the gizzard open and to thoroughly clean it.
You should now have a
cleaned bird that is ready to be cooked or frozen.