New respect for big turkeys

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by longranger, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. longranger

    longranger Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 23, 2009
    laguna hills CA
    Today was another learning experience. Thought I knew what I was doing processing turkeys. Learned the hard way today that processing a 40# plus broad breasted is way different than the other birds I have done before, none over 30#.

    First clue that it might be different is that I need both hands to pick this tom up by the legs and it was like holding a baseball bat in each hand.

    Second clue the bird did not fit into the cone I have been using this season. OH MY!!!

    Third clue bird is less than amused when I pull him out of the cone. Still he cooperates pretty well considering.

    Then it looks like my luck has changed. He obediently puts his head and neck on the chopping block. Clean one shot with the cleaver. Then it begins to look like a scene from a bad comedy. This bird takes forever to bleed out. If I did not know better I would think it was getting multiple transfusions just to freak me out. Of course every 10 or 15 seconds this headless turkey decides it wants to get up and take a walk. Fortunately he never got away to bruise himself.

    Last challenge the scalding pot. It worked but did not look anything like the HUGE 20 gallon stock pot it is.

    That was my first and will be my last huge turkey. Once was enough and the adventure of cooking him has yet to occur. I am probably going to cut him up before brine and then smoke the pieces all at once. Maybe that way the breast can come out nice and moist since it won't be waiting on the thunder thighs to get up to 165 degrees.

    I'm tired.
  2. AHappychick

    AHappychick Wanna-be Farmer

    Dec 16, 2008
    oh my [​IMG]

    note to self: get all turkeys to the processor this week.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2009
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Know how that is.... I butchered two broad breasted turkeys that were around 50lbs live weight last year. So heavy I walked them to the back of the house, used a 50lb feed bag as a cone, and like you said, the blood just kept on pouring.
  4. heritagehabitatfarms

    heritagehabitatfarms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 11, 2009
    clinton ar
    i had a BBB tom that was a pet and after 3 years he got where he could not walk so we butchered him... he was over 50# and we had much the same problems with him lol... his breast alone was 21# we had to cut him in 3 pieces just to get him in the oven a little tuff but it was some of the best turkey meat that i have ever had... not as gamy as wild but way more flavor than the ones that we butchered at 10 months...
  5. Steve_of_sandspoultry

    Steve_of_sandspoultry Overrun With Chickens

    We are planning to do 4 heritage toms this morning. We use a feed sack to hold the bird in plus wrap a rope around the wings/ mid section of the body to keep them from flapping. Tie the legs together also makes it easier. Then we just skin them and cut them up. The only time we scald and pluck is for "special" meals.

    Steve in NC
  6. Neil Grassbaugh

    Neil Grassbaugh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 1, 2008
    I was raised on a turkey breeding farm. Big, older, toms seemed to be available for table use very often. They were usually birds that had some sort of leg or wing problem and it was a matter of salvaging the meat before the bird was wasted.

    We always hung the bird with one rope noose over both legs. Dad said they didn't strugle as much if you did it that way. I never tested it otherwise so I really don't know.

    We hung the 40#plus (that was a big turkey back in the 50's and 60's)by the legs in that way from a near to the ground horizontal branch of a tree. There was always enough clearance so that when the throat was slit and the bird bled out that the resulting wing floping would not contact anything.

    We had the facilities to scald and defeather birds of this size but usually elected to skin out as much of the bird as was practical.
    We skinned them to obtain the breast, leg and thigh meat for "turkey steak". A family favorite of ours.

    Once the breast meat had been seperated from the frame and the thigh meat deboned it was sliced across the grain for pan frying or deep frying. Mother would use a chicken type deep frying batter to prepare it that way.

    For pan frying it is just dredged in flour, browned in a skillet and left to slow cook for quite a while. Salted and peppered to taste. Nothing complicated, just like fried chicken. And the gravey is great on mashed potatoes.

    Since I have access to 50# plus commercial toms these days I always have packages of turkey steak in the freezer and ready to go. My two honorary teenage grandsons can eat all three of the main attractions by the pounds. It amazes me how much they can eat - then I think back to my two brothers and I when we were teenagers.

    My family is a tight fisted German heritage farm bunch that never let anything go to waste. My Dad would cut out some of the leg meat for steak but it really belongs with the deboned frame, back and legs in a stock pot to "cook off" the meat for any number of dishes.Turkey pot pie being my most favorite. Mother always cooked the turkey with celery and onions in the the stock pot. But then my Mother thought that you could improve the tase of vanilla ice cream with the addition of a little bit of celery.

    Big turkeys are great, and probably the most so when prepared in this way.

    Oh- and forget this "brining" procedure when you prepare turkey for steak. As a matter of fact I think that turkey should only be "brined" for one of two reasons.To prepare the bird for smoking or to render it unpalateable and deserving of a quick trip past the table.

    Heritage Turkeys - I participated in raising them when they were common farm stock. They have the taste and texture of the more natural turkey, the wild ones.

    Think about the first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims had wild turkey meat, the Indians (who were invited to the party and had been eating wild turkeys for years) brought . . . . fish.
  7. becky3086

    becky3086 Crested Crazy

    Oct 14, 2008
    Thomson, GA
    LOL, great post. I really enjoyed reading it. Turkey steak sounds so good but I have enough to do right now with chickens, quail and ducks. Turkeys are another "someday" project.
  8. Buster52

    Buster52 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 28, 2009
    Geronimo Oklahoma
    Well, I knew my 50 pounder was gonna be a bear, so I cheated...


    Last edited: Oct 26, 2009
  9. TechEdFireman

    TechEdFireman Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have two BBBs "thanksgiving" and "christmas" to butcher here in the near future. Thanks for all the advice, thanksgiving is up near 50# and I was wondering how I was going to go about butchering him I may take out the engine hoist to elevate him up when slitting his arteries.
  10. The Chicken People

    The Chicken People Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2009
    Smithville, Mo
    Engine Hoist sounds like it will work!

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