Like many of you, I love it all: scouting, hunting and cooking the wild turkey.
Still, sometimes the same guy who knows how to outwit the toughest bird in the outdoors might fumble his way while trying to prepare that gobbler for a meal. Extending spring hunts in the kitchen should be a priority.
If possible, I like to utilize as much of the meat as I can, including the breasts and the drumsticks; even the remaining carcass once the legs and thick chest meat are drawn. Traveling by plane from turkey country as you bang out another Grand Slam might limit you to simply breasting the bird though.
As this goes, 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. You can raise the recipe bar too.
Just last night, I baked thin fillets from one thick Kentucky turkey breast taken on the April opener. In one mixing bowl I had a few tablespoons of fancy mustard and roughly a half cup of milk. On a plate, I sifted out some flour, and grated some jalapeno cheese. Next I rolled the thinly cut fillets in the mustard-milk mix, then in the flour-cheese deal. With the oven preheated to 400 degrees, I placed the meat into a glass baking dish, gently poured the remaining mustard-milk liquid on top, and slipped it in the oven. Forty minutes did the trick.
While many hunters only keep the breast meat for grilling or frying (and obviously baking) that’s only part of it. Go the game-cooking distance.
I like to parboil the drumsticks in a tall lobster pot ¾ full of 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 skinned body of the turkey (snap it into two pieces). Try it. You might be amazed at how much meat is still available.
Use with any recipe you see fit, including pasta dishes (pictured here). As implied earlier, simply add wild meat in place of the store-bought option and enjoy.
(Steve Hickoff photo)
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Steve Hickoff is Realtree.com's editorial director and turkey hunting editor. He’s been beaten by more birds than he can remember. Still he kills enough to eat well, and fool with beards, spurs and fans until the next season. Pennsylvania born and raised, Maine is his home base now. A full-time outdoor communicator with a couple university writing degrees, he chases spring gobblers and fall flocks around the country.