Turkey season is upon us and there is nothing like getting outsmarted by a creature that has a brain the size of a pea! Ha! Ha! Ha! Well, I’ve sat in the field waiting for that beautiful dance from a Tom to occur a couple times this season so far, but have yet to harvest one. As you know, I’m picky on what I take. I want the oldest coolest dude in the bunch! And he hasn’t appeared quite yet. Maybe it’s because mother nature is a bit bipolar and can can’t make up her damn mind this season. She’s hot then cold, warm then a chance of snow flurries, what the heck mother nature can’t you just stick to one and go with it?
But I will admit that Turkey season is seriously delicious! There is something so wonderful about sitting for hours up against a tree watching the sun rise and calling in a gobbler. Am I right?
After you have been successful in the field preparing your turkey can be equally as fun. There are so many options you can do with turkey. But let’s first talk about the difference of wild turkey verses farmed turkey. Farmed turkey has been bred to have the subtle taste that it does. It has also been raised on a diet that is not natural for a turkey. A wild turkey would never be eating GMO Enhanced feed, which is what store bought large farmed turkeys have been fed on. Granted there are small farmers who are raising turkeys the right way, so not everyone is doing this. But our palette has adjusted to what I call a flavor lackluster. Meaning we have diluted the real taste of our animals. What you taste from a store-bought turkey is not how turkey is supposed to taste. It’s been made by man so to speak. So, for some when they get their first taste of wild turkey they might be put off by it. It’s definitely not the same in taste as store bought. Plus, wild turkey has not been pumped with water like store bought has. So, it can have the tendency to be very dry when not cooked properly. So, to counter act that there are a few easy things you can do to ensure a delicious wild turkey meal.
Brine: If you plan to eat the turkey breast and legs as is, meaning not grinding the meat or anything, a brine will be your turkeys best friend. A brine will add more water and salt flavor into the meat, so you have less chance of it drying out on you. Plus, a big reason I love brining is you can impart more flavor into the meat. As a Chef, I try to add more flavor into a dish everywhere I can.
Simple Brine Recipe:
4 Cups Water
½ Cup Kosher Salt
½ Cup Brown Sugar
1 TBS Black Peppercorns
2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
3-4 Bay Leaves
1 Head of Garlic Sliced in half
2 Lemons, juice squeezed into mix and rinds tossed in as well
Bring everything to a boil so that the sugar and salt dissolve. Once the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from heat and let come to room temperature. Then chill in the refrigerator. When the brine is completely chilled then add the turkey whole or in pieces and brine for 24 hours.
Grind: In the case of this recipe coming up, I used ground turkey. I like to grind the meat myself, because I can add fat to it to ensure its nice and moist. I like to add chilled duck fat to my grind and I usually do a 90% turkey 10 % Fat ratio.
With all that said I hope you are excited to enjoy your spring harvest! So, if you decided to go with ground turkey, here is a beautiful fresh recipe for Wild Turkey Larb. Larb is a Thai dish that I absolutely love! It’s easy to make and has the most beautiful bright yet intense flavors, something I really love about Thai cuisine.
Wild Turkey Larb served in Cabbage Cups
· 1 # Wild Turkey, ground
· 1 Chili, Sliced
· ¼ tsp Sugar
· ½ TBS Fish Sauce
· 2 Limes, juiced
· 3 Shallots, diced
· 3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
· 1 TBS Lemongrass, minced
· 1 TBS Ginger, minced
· Green Onions
In a cast iron skillet add about 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan. On medium high heat add the ground turkey, season with a dash of salt and pepper. Once the turkey is about half way cooked add the chili, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, shallots, garlic, lemongrass and ginger. Then finish cooking till the turkey is cooked through.
At the very end add torn mint leaves and chopped cilantro and green onions to the mixture. Serve in green cabbage cups and enjoy!