Thank goodness I decided to do some research on the web in advance of attempting to cook my first heritage, free-range, organic turkey this Thanksgiving. It turns out they are done cooking at a lower temperature than regular, store-bought and even free-range, organic birds (150-155 degrees versus 165-170 degrees), and they shouldn't be overcooked because they dry out more easily. The sources that I found also say not to cook a heritage turkey in a convection oven for fear of drying the meat out. This tidbit is the one piece of advice I'm probably not going to follow because I love my convection oven. I think they probably say this because a convection oven cooks at a temperature 25 degrees higher than a conventional oven. In other words, if you set both a conventional oven and a convection oven to 325 degrees, the convection oven is really cooking at 350 degrees because of the way it cooks. I've learned to make adjustments, almost always on the cooking time side of things (it's always shorter), though it's easy enough to lower the temperature in a convection oven by 25 degrees if you prefer to adjust that way. And I've always found that cooking in a convection oven helps my roasted chickens and turkeys come out moister and with a much crispier skin.
To assure our heritage turkey is moist, I've decided I'll marinate it for 24 hours before sticking it in the oven and I won't stuff it because the stuffing might not be done at the same time the turkey is. I'll make the stuffing on the side. This is the marinade I'm thinking of using, though I may adjust a bit depending on my mood and taste buds come Wednesday:
Heritage Turkey Marinade
1/4 c. olive oil
2-3 T. minced garlic
2-3 T. minced onion
2 T. minced lemon thyme (from the garden)
3-4 T. minced parsley (from the garden)
Minced zest from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lemon
3-4 T. melted butter, cooled
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste (at least 1 teaspoon)
I plan on rubbing the marinade all over and under the skin and letting it marinate for a good 24 hours wrapped in plastic wrap to help flavor and moisten the turkey meat for our Thanksgiving meal.
I'm going to give myself 5 hours for cooking the turkey since it weighs 25 pounds. I'll tent it with foil in the beginning because I don't want the skin to get too dark. And I'll baste it along the way, about once every hour or so after the first 2 hours.
I can only hope we get a bird that looks this good come Thursday, but I'm certainly going to give it the old college try.