Harvesting, processing, and cooking wild turkey

reading time: 4 minutes

By Jenny Underwood Few things are tastier than wild turkey; Our family enjoys eating it annually during hunting season. Now that our sons are old enough to hunt turkey, we have been blessed with plenty of fresh turkey. But how do you handle wild turkey for optimal use? Are they the same tame as turkeys?

First, a wild turkey is not like a store-bought tame turkey. Most often, dogs (males) are only hunted in the wild during the spring and are generally several years old. This means the meat is full of flavour, but you have to handle it right or you end up with a tough, chewy piece of meat.

The field processing of wild turkey is similar to any poultry slaughter. However we like to remove the breast and keep the legs and thighs separately. To do this, you will need a scalping gamble. Tie the turkey legs away from the gamble. Then pluck the breast feathers. After exposing the brisket, start with a sharp knife on the breastbone in the center. Make your first incision firm along the edge of your breastbone. Keep cutting the meat until the meat comes off the breastbone in one big piece. You will repeat the process on the other side. To skin the leg and thigh, simply cut through the skin of the leg so you can fit your fingers between the meat and the skin. The skin then pulls away from the meat easily by hand. Once you have all the skin on the thigh and thigh, you can separate the thigh using the drumstick attached to it at the joint that connects it to the main body of the turkey.

After cutting the carcass, you can process it into smaller pieces for freezing or proceed to preparation for cooking the turkey. Freezes:

  1. Cut the breast into small pieces and carefully remove any tendons. This nerve will never become tender, so remove it immediately for best results.
  1. Cut the breast into thin slices if you’re going to fry it. If desired, you can use a meat tenderizer and grind the fillets for more tenderness.
  1. Chop it into small pieces (about 1″ by 1″) for stews, pies, pot pies, or canning.
  1. To grill, cut them into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

I leave the legs and thighs whole for making the broth. Then I put my chops in salted ice water or a marinade (see marinade ideas in the article).

Side note: check all pieces for stray shot pellets. Nothing spoils a meal like biting into a nugget of metal!

Fried turkey breast with milk

  • 1 wild turkey breast, thinly sliced, string removed
  • yogurt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Half a teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun or chili seasoning (if desired, add more or less for seasoning)
  • 1 inch hot oil in a cast iron skillet or deep fryer

Leave the turkey breast to soak in the curd for 6 to 8 hours (or overnight). Combine flour, salt, pepper, and any other seasonings in a storage bag. Shake well. Heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Get rid of excess seasoning. Carefully coat the breast pieces with the flour mixture. Don’t crowd the pan. Fry until golden brown on one side (about 2 to 3 minutes). Flip and sear the other side. Place on plate with several layers of paper towels to drain. Serve hot or cold.

Alternate dressings in place of the buttermilk are ranch dressing, vinegar, or Italian dressing. One breast will serve 6 dishes with side dishes.

Instant turkey breast

  • 1 wild turkey breast, thinly sliced, string removed
  • 1 chopped onion
  • Vinaigrette (½ bottle)
  • Half a cup of extra virgin olive oil

Place the wild turkey breast, onion, vinegar, and olive oil in an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker. Close the pressure valve and cook on poultry mode for 60 minutes. Allow the pressure to drop naturally. Alternatively, you can use ranch dressing or Italian dressing in place of the vinaigrette. You can add 4 potatoes (cut into 2-by-2-inch pieces), chopped carrots, and celery for a delicious roast-style meal.

1 breast will serve 6 with side dishes.

Wild turkey smothered with gravy

  • 1 wild turkey breast, thinly sliced, string removed
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Half a teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • Half a cup of olive oil
  • water
  • broth
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 cups of milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy cast-iron skillet (with lid), heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot. Combine flour and spices in a storage bag. Add the turkey breast, one piece at a time, to coat and coat it well. Add to skillet. Collect the pieces in the skillet. Lightly fry on one side. Then flip it over and brown on the other side. Add about 1/2 inch of water to the skillet, reduce the heat to low, and cover the skillet with the lid. Simmer 45 to 60 minutes, adding water as needed to prevent burning or drying out. After the meat is tender with a fork, remove it from the pan. In a measuring cup, whisk together the flour and milk. Add to the beef broth in the same pan. Increase the heat again to medium or medium-high. Whisk constantly until it bubbles quickly. Remove from heat and serve hot with cooked turkey, mashed potatoes and hot biscuits.

turkey broth

  • 2 turkey legs and thighs
  • water
  • 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks of chopped celery
  • Half a cup of butter or olive oil

In a pressure cooker, toaster, or crock pot, place all ingredients except water. Then cover the turkey legs and thighs with water. If you are using a pressure cooker, close the pressure valve and cook on poultry setting for 90 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally. If you’re using a roasting pan or crock pot, cook at 275 F (or LOW) for 12 hours until everything is fork-tender and the gravy is dark and rich in appearance. A pot on the stove can also be used, but you will need to keep adding water and let it simmer for 4 to 5 hours. Remove the legs and thighs for other uses. Strain the broth and freeze, cann, or store in the refrigerator for use within 1 week.

turkey legs and thighs

  • Shredded turkey meat removed from 2 turkey legs and 2 thighs
  • 1 bottle of BBQ sauce
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 peppers (sweet), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

In a heavy cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and peppers and sauté until tender. Add turkey and sauté a bit. Then add the BBQ sauce, cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Served with hot rolls and crispy french fries. 6 services.

To prepare any turkey breast for pies, stews, or dumplings, cook the turkey in a pressure cooker for 60 minutes on the poultry setting with 1 quart of water and 1 stick of butter. Or cook it in a crock pot for 6 to 8 hours. Then add the turkey to your desired recipe.

Remember, if you prepare your wild turkey properly, you’ll wish hunting season came more often! So, clean your turkey thoroughly, cut it into small pieces, and cook it in a way that retains moisture, and you’ll be happy with the results.

Originally published in the March/April 2023 issue of Countryside Journal and Small Stock They are checked regularly for accuracy.

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