If you have ever removed the breast meat from a wild turkey, you probably noticed the small strip of meat that lies between the main portion of the breast and the bone. We call these the turkey tenders or cutlets. You can keep the tender with the rest of the breast meat and prepare them together, but we like to remove and package them separately for recipes like these bourbon BBQ fried turkey tenders.
Removing the tender is easy. You will find that it just about falls away from the breast meat once you have filleted it from the bone. There is a strip of connective tissue along the cutlet that needs to be removed before cooking. You can’t miss it; it looks like a white ribbon sticking out from one end. There is more to it than what you see on the outside. That little ribbon of chewiness runs through the center of the tender. Run the blade of a sharp knife down both sides to remove it. Your tender will now be in two more or less equal-sized pieces.
We do a double dredge for this recipe for an extra crispy crust that stands up to the dip into the BBQ sauce made with Evan Williams Outdoorsman Edition bourbon. Set up your station with equal amounts of seasoned flour in two containers with a dish of egg wash between. Roll the breast tender in flour, dip into the egg wash, then into the second flour dish. Keeping the flour containers separate keeps the dredge dry for the first dip, ensuring the meat gets completely covered.
6 to 8 wild turkey breast tenders
4 cups seasoned flour, like Kentucky Kernel brand, divided
2 eggs, beaten with 1/4 cup water
Vegetable or peanut oil for frying
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups tomato ketchup
1/2 cup Evan Williams bourbon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup lemon-lime soda
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Make the BBQ sauce before frying the turkey tenders. To a saucepan over medium heat, add the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the remaining ingredients. Stir well and bring the mixture to a light boil. Reduce the heat to low and maintain the sauce at a simmer while you fry the wild turkey tenders.
Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. While the oil heats, dip each tender first into the seasoned flour, then into the egg wash, making sure to coat the entire surface, then into the second flour container.
Once your oil is near or at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, gently lower the tenders into the skillet. Fry the turkey in batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pan. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until the turkey is a crispy golden brown and just cooked through. Transfer the cooked turkey to a paper-lined sheet pan.
Once all the turkey has been fried, use a set of tongs to dip each tender into the simmering BBQ sauce just before serving.
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