Ask any turkey hunter what’s best to do with a trophy Tom you’ve harvested and the answer you’ll get is likely to be something along the lines of either mounting it or just drying the tail fan to hang on your wall.
How best to go about preparing the bird for the table seems to be pretty much an afterthought, and that’s a shame.
In the old days, hunters considered the placing of wild game onto the plate as the ultimate way of showing reverence to the animal they worked so hard to outsmart. I’m a firm believer in the old thought that if you’re going to shoot it, you should eat it.
I also hold to the idea that if you have no intention of doing so, you really don’t need to be out there in the first place.
The majority of hunters these days still do enjoy the fruits of their hunting labor at the table and love to share the many recipes that they have for everything from deer to rabbit, waterfowl and upland game. But when it comes to the turkey, they often don’t know exactly how best to cook it.
More often than not, the meat of the wild turkey is relegated to the tried and true, but well worn-out, method of marinating in Italian dressing then wrapping in bacon and tossing on the grill.
If you’re ready to make better use of that gobbler that you put so much time and effort into getting, then cut these recipes out and give them a try. I’m pretty sure you’ll find yourself buying a lot less salad dressing in the future.
Wild Turkey White Chili
1/2 cup minced onion
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 pounds cubed, uncooked wild turkey breast meat
2 tablespoons chopped, seeded jalapeño pepper
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried savory
4 cups chicken stock
1 16-ounce can navy beans
1 16-ounce can Great Northern beans
2 medium potatoes, diced
Grated cheddar cheese
Chopped green onion
Tabasco, Texas Pete or another hot sauce
Heat some vegetable oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until tender. Stir in the cumin then add the breast meat and continue to sauté until the meat is cooked, about 5 minutes.
Next, pour in the chicken stock with the chopped jalapeño, savory and marjoram. Add the cans of beans and diced potatoes.
Cover and allow the mixture to simmer until the chili is thick, approximately 45 minutes.Serve in bowls along with the Tabasco, salt and pepper, green onions, sour cream and cheese to garnish.
1 wild turkey breast, marinated in vinegar, sugar and salt for 10 to 15 minutes
2 teaspoons red chili oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
4 tablespoons peanut butter, creamed with sesame oil
4 tablespoons soy sauce
White sesame seeds
2 tablespoons scallions
Cut and slice the cucumber into toothpick-sized sticks or strings and set aside.Cook the turkey breast by boiling, frying, grilling or in the oven then allow to cool completely.
With a mallet or rolling pin, tenderize the breast meat then use forks to shred.Arrange the shredded turkey meat and cucumber sticks on a plate.
Next, combine the chili oil, sugar, soy sauce, pepper and creamed peanut butter and mix into a sauce. Pour the sauce over the turkey meat and cucumbers and garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.
1 wild turkey breast
1/2 cup bourbon
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons spicy mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
With the skin removed, slice the turkey breast crosswise into strips about 1/2 inch wide. Wash the meat and pat dry.
In a medium sized, microwave safe bowl, pour in the honey and heat on high for about a minute. Once removed, whisk in the bourbon, Worcestershire sauce and mustard until smooth then place in a large sealed plastic bag along with the sliced meat. Squeeze out the air before sealing and then toss to completely cover the meat. Refrigerate for four hours.
In a different sealed plastic bag, toss in the flour, cayenne pepper, salt, paprika, onion powder, basil, thyme and garlic powder.
Remove the meat strips from the marinade, shaking off the excess, and place into the flour and spice mixture. Seal the bag and toss to coat the strips thoroughly. Heat approximately 1/2 inch of oil in a skillet and fry the turkey strips until golden brown. Allow the meat to drain on a paper towel.
Plate the strips and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and parsley to garnish. Serve hot.
Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his website at www.bradharveyoutdoors.com or follow on Twitter @BHarveyOutdoors.