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Cleaning a Turkey

Turkey

Cleaning a Turkey

Novice turkey hunters are often intimidated when it comes time to clean this large bird. Just like a chicken or other fowl, there are two basic ways to clean a turkey: plucking and skinning. If you want to help keep the moisture in the turkey while cooking it whole, then you should pluck the bird. Remove feathers from the turkey just as you would pluck a chicken. This method does take more time than skinning and it is messy.

Skinning the turkey is faster and cleaner, but you will need to wrap the bird in foil or place in a baking bag to cook whole. Here are some tips to make skinning the turkey easier:

  1. Hang the turkey by both feet at chest level. The turkey should hang so the feet are 12 to 18 inches apart.
  2. If you want to save the beard, remove it now. Grasp the beard as close to the body as possible, give it a half-twist, then sharply pull it away from the breast. The beard will pull away with a little tissue on it.
  3. Now remove the fan by cutting the skin away from the tail.
  4. Cut off the wings at the elbow or second joint.
  5. Grasp the skin at the tail and begin pulling it down. Work the skin off around the wings and pull it down to the neck.
  6. Cut off the neck and the skin. The feathers and head will come off in one piece.
  7. Open the body cavity and remove the entrails, if you have not already done so in the field. Be sure to remove all lung material from the backbone, as it tends to spoil quickly.
  8. Cut off the legs at the knee or second joint. If you don't want to cook or freeze a whole turkey, consider cutting it up into smaller portions. Remove the breast and other meat from the carcass and cut off the legs and wings. Package in appropriate servings for cooking. The turkey is ready for cooking or freezing. Double-bag the turkey in plastic freezer bags and seal as airtight as possible to prevent freezer burn.

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