Cooking Your Wild Turkey

Almost any chili recipe you have on hand will work with wild turkey. (Steve Hickoff photo)

You’ve done the hard part and tagged a spring gobbler.


Some of the camp talk after our Yamaha Outdoors Texas turkey hunt this season involved eating our kills, too. Good news is, almost all wild turkey meat can be used for recipes. Tips follow to make the most out of your bird.

Clean, Use and Freeze the Rest

Clean your turkey as soon as possible, especially in warm weather. You’ll also want to take some photos while the bird is intact.

You can freeze a whole bird after plucking it, or break it down into various parts (breast meat, drumsticks or just thighs, and meat bits). Freezer paper, plastic zip bags and plastic wrap can all be used. The key is to first let the bird cool.


Package parts as you might imagine using meat for meals. Fillet the breast meat or cube it. Detach thighs from the rest of the leg. All wild turkey meat can be used, so even keep the carcass for soups and stews—especially in hunting camp.

In other words, don’t put it all in one big package as you’ll have to defrost all of it at once.

Policy
This Texas longbeard made for a great wild turkey chili. (Steve Hickoff photo)

How to Prepare Your Turkey

After defrosting turkey meat, and depending on the recipe, cube or fillet breasts into smaller parts for tenderizing. To do this, place meat on a cutting board, cover it with plastic wrap and use a meat hammer to gently tap each piece. This breaks the meat down a little and makes cooking and eating it an enjoyable experience. True enough though you can also simply use a Dutch oven or crockpot to slowly cook the meat for hours, which will tenderize it as well.

You can use wild turkey breast meat in almost any recipe that includes store-bought domestic chicken fillets or farm turkey. Just swap it out. It’s that simple. My opinion: fresh wild turkey is far better than frozen-foods-section poultry.

Many 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.

While many hunters only keep the thick breast meat for grilling or frying (and obviously baking) that’s only part of it. You can of course bake the whole bird in the traditional Thanksgiving manner. Pluck it. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roast the bird breast side up, of course. The internal temperature should read 180 degrees when it’s done.

If the wild turkey’s been skinned, “bard” the breast with strips of bacon. This keeps the lean meat from drying out. You can also cover it in tinfoil as you might with a farm bird.

Use the Drumsticks Too

Go the game-cooking distance. Again, the theme here is to make use of the whole turkey and you should. In the interest of using the whole bird, try parboiling your skinned wild turkey drumsticks. Here’s how:

Step 1: Gently place the skinned drumsticks in a tall lobster pot full of boiling water.

Step 2: After 90 minutes or so, you can remove the legs (use prongs), cool them, and pick the meat for use in soups and stews.

Step 3: Breast meat and legs now removed for other recipes, you can do the same thing with the upper and lower de-feathered and skinned body of the turkey (snap it into two pieces).

Step 4: After cooling, pick the meat and keep it in a bowl. Substitute these tasty meat bits with game bird or even traditional recipes of choice.

Cooking wild turkey well extends the hunt.

Recommended for You

Bows

New TRUGLO Bowfishing EZ•Rest

May 23, 2019

Brush-style bowfishing arrow rest and kits designed for simplicity and reliability.

Trout & Salmon

How to Catch the Biggest Trout in the Stream

David Paul Williams

Several factors need to be evaluated before reaching a conclusion about what fly, lure or...

Hogs

Quick Tips: How to Spot and Stalk a Hog

Ian Nance - May 28, 2019

Try these tips to improve your wild boar hunting skill set.

See More Recommendations

Trending Stories

Catfish

10 Biggest Catfish World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - December 08, 2014

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a...

Catfish

Catfish Night & Day: How to Catch 'Em Both Ways

Terry Madewell - April 04, 2018

Catfish tend to be found in shallower water at night, but they are still active during the...

Reels

10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper - July 16, 2015

Fishing reel maintenance provides a steady stream of business for The Fisherman's Warehouse

See More Stories

More Wild Game

Wild Game

Chili Garlic Smoked Quail Recipe

Rio Piedra Plantation

This simple smoked quail recipe is seasoned with ancho chili peppers, roasted garlic and other...

Wild Game

Venison 'White Castle' Burgers in a CanCooker Recipe

Jessyca Sortillon

You know those irresistible little burgers from White Castle with the mini onions? With this...

Wild Game

Butter-Basted Duck Breast Recipe

Traeger

Preparing a gourmet dinner in the outdoors is easy with this recipe from Traeger! These duck...

See More Wild Game

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×