IF YOU’VE ALREADY landed yourself a Maine-raised free-range turkey, whether it’s organic or natural (i.e., no antibiotics or hormones), congratulations. But did you know you need to cook it differently?

THE DISTINCTION between local birds and supermarket Butterballs is pronounced enough that farmer Abby Sadauckas writes a personalized letter to everyone who purchases her free-range birds with tips on cooking it the right way.

WE ASKED A FEW Maine turkey farmers to share their methods and tips with us.

Keep the temperature low. For Jules Fecteau of Serendipity Acres in North Yarmouth, who has been raising turkeys for 10 years, that’s 325 degrees F. “I do not go above that temperature,” says Fecteau. “Low and slow,” affirms Rhiannon Hampson of Grace Pond Farm, who raised 350 birds this season and favors 300 degrees F for her own Thanksgiving turkey.

But even if you’re going low, don’t expect to put the bird in at 10 a.m. and take it out at 3 p.m., the way you might with a 20-pound supermarket turkey. Sadauckas says her free-range birds take about half the time in the oven as conventional birds. “The rule of thumb is 15 to 20 minutes per pound (for supermarket birds),” says Joe Grady of Two Coves Farm in Harpswell. “We are definitely more like 10 to 12 minutes per pound.”

Skip the foil, oven-safe plastic bags or whatever other accessory you might normally use with your turkeys. As long as you keep the temperature low and watch the bird, it will stay moist. “You can even overdo it, and it will still be moist,” Grady says. That said, don’t expect a lot of fat. “The fat is a lot more delicate on the pasture-raised, so you don’t get this big pool of heavy fat,” Fecteau says. That’s because these turkeys have more muscle. “Like an athlete,” Sadauckas says.

Don’t bother with a brine. “I am not sure how much benefit you would get for a pasture-raised turkey,” Hampson says.

Flip the bird. That’s what Hampson does, cooking hers breast-side down. The free-range bird is not injected with water or saline, the way the supermarket bird can be, so this is her method to prevent the breast from drying out.

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