By Steve Hickoff
Wild turkeys are different than store-bought frozen roasters, for sure. No, they're not gamy. Yes, they're delicious. It all depends on the cook of course. To me, wild turkey is as turkey as turkey can be. Want true organic food? Tag a bird during one of the fall or spring turkey seasons.
You can bet we’ll serve wild turkey this coming Thanksgiving Day.
First some history. As hunting them goes, at first there were no rules, and now there are many. Our modern hunting seasons rightly insist on fair chase, where the quarry has a better chance of winning than you do. Regulated turkey hunting seasons around the United States ensure the steady growth and stability of populations. Wild flocks thrive.
Here’s hoping you killed one this fall or that you still have some wild turkey in the freezer from last spring. There’s no better way to extend those hunting memories than by cooking them this holiday season.
Use It All
Assuming you made a clean shot, dressed that bird in due time, and kept it cool for the transport home on the back of your Yamaha ATV or Side-by-Side vehicle, you should be in good shape for starters. I like to utilize as much of the meat as possible, including the breasts and the drumsticks; even the remaining carcass once the legs and thick chest meat are drawn.
You can basically use breast meat in any recipe that includes store-bought domestic chicken fillets or farm turkey. It’s that simple. Many guys simply opt to finger the meat, roll it in egg batter then flour, and fry it in cooking oil. That’s cool—it’s good, and seasonings offer flavor options.
We sometimes like to bake thin fillets cut from several thick turkey breasts.
In one mixing bowl add a few tablespoons of fancy mustard and roughly a half cup of milk. On a plate, sift out some flour, and grated jalapeno cheese. Next roll the thinly cut fillets in the mustard-milk mix, then in the flour-cheese deal. With the oven preheated to 400 degrees, put the meat into a glass baking dish, gently pour the remaining mustard-milk liquid on top, and slip it in the oven.
Forty minutes will do the trick. Delicious stuff.
While many hunters only keep the thick breast meat for grilling or frying (and obviously baking) that’s only part of it. Go the game-cooking distance.
Meat for Soups
I like to parboil the drumsticks in a tall lobster pot ¾ full of boiling water.
After 90 minutes or so, you can remove the legs, cool them, and pick the meat for use in soups. Breast meat and legs now removed, you can do the same thing with the upper and lower de-feathered and skinned body of the turkey (snap it into two pieces).
Try it. You might be amazed at how much meat is still available.