What's your favorite wild turkey recipe? Thing is, we didn't want to just show you the kitchen part of it, where everyone's hands are clean and white wine (OK, cheap beer) is being sipped. This is an unedited look at the making of a real-life turkey dinner, straight from the spring woods.
Image 1 of 14
1 | Spring Gobbler
You may have noticed a recent cultural shift. People from rural communities and big cities alike are asking questions about their food—mainly, where does it come from?
Well, some of ours is about to come from this hefty 2-year old gobbler propped on Michelle's knee. He gobbled hard on the limb this morning and flew down to within gun range, no questions asked. It was a good death.
Image 2 of 14
2 | How to Clean a Wild Turkey
When the celebration is over, the work begins. Michelle plops her bird down on the "skinnin' rock," the limestone slab in front of hunt camp where we've butchered many a wild critter over the years. Her first cut is simply to break the skin along the gobbler's breast bone. Click here for a step-by-step video detailing how to clean a wild turkey.
Image 3 of 14
3 | Skinning a Turkey
Some good turkey recipes call for a whole plucked bird. We usually skin ours and render the two boneless breast fillets and drumsticks, which are good for slow-cooking, soups and such. With the initial incision, Michelle grabs the skin and forcefully pulls it away from the turkey’s breast.
Image 4 of 14
4 | Filleting Breast Meat
Though a pocket knife works, removing the breast fillets is easiest with a fillet knife. Simply slice alongside the breast bone and carefully work the meat away. Make sure to get the succulent tenderloins, which lay on the inside of the breast fillet, right along the bone.
Image 5 of 14
5 | Craw Check
A good turkey hunter is interested in turkeys, and usually checks the craw to see what area birds are eating. This is a shot of the craw of a bird I killed later that day. By the looks of things, he had a taste for ladino clover.
Image 6 of 14
6 | Boneless Breast Fillet
Behold the boneless, skinless turkey breast fillet. A finer slab of white-meat protein cannot be found in all of nature. This lends itself to many great recipes.
Image 7 of 14
7 | Turkey Beard
The gobbler’s beard. With a little salt and time to dry, it can be displayed for years to come.
Image 8 of 14
8 | Removing Spurs
Michelle removes the gobbler’s nubby spurs with a hack saw. Like the beard, spurs will last a long time if properly dried. Removing the heavy tendon from them leaves a convenient hole for threading them onto a leather lanyard, too.
Image 9 of 14
9 | Turkey Spurs
Michelle just paid good money to have her nails manicured, too.
Image 10 of 14
10 | Turkey Breast Trimming
Before your turkey breast is ready to cook, it needs to be trimmed. Trimming, as with venison, is the key to a tender texture and mild flavor. Using a sharp fillet knife, simply slice the breast meat away from the thick silver skin, fat and membranes. Grill-bound gobblers need to be cut into larger pieces. Gobbler hot wings are the menu tonight, though. These require smaller, well-trimmed morsels sized for the skillet.
Image 11 of 14
11 | Fried Turkey Nugget Recipe
This recipe begins like a standard fried turkey nugget recipe. Mix up a seasoned flour mixture to your liking. We like salt, pepper, Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning, garlic powder and paprika in ours. Wash your nuggets, pat them dry and coat them in the mixture. Simple as that.
Image 12 of 14
12 | Heat a Skillet
Heat a skillet (we use an electric one, but good old cast iron works fine) filled ¼-inch deep with olive oil to about 325 degrees. Don’t get it much hotter, or the olive oil will burn. Fry the turkey nuggets on each side until lightly browned.
Image 13 of 14
13 | Into the Sauce
While your nuggets are frying, mix a few healthy scoops of butter together with 1/3 bottle of Frank’s Red Hot sauce. (Yes, we put that @#$% on everything.) Melt and stir it, and immediately soak your nuggets in the mixture after you remove them from the hot oil. Place them on a foil-covered baking sheet, and preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Image 14 of 14
14 | Bake the Nuggets
Pour the remainder of your sauce over the nuggets, and slide the baking pan in the oven. Cook for a half-hour or so. The nuggets will be fork-tender when they’re finished, and they go perfectly with a side of ranch or bleu cheese dressing.