Recipe contributed by Field Staff Writer S. West.
I was fortunate enough to harvest my limit of two Ontario longbeards this spring. I truly enjoy a whole roast bird shared with family, so the fringe benefit to taking two gobblers this year was that I could break down one of the toms into legs, thighs, and breasts and then experiment with some dishes I had always wanted to make using wild turkey.
I had a few friends coming over in early June for a dinner party, and since they were relative novices when it came to eating wild game, I decided to use a couple of novel preparations to push their wild turkey experience over the top. The below may seem over-the-top, and it can certainly be a bit of a process, but if you are looking to impress friends and family with a summertime wild turkey feast, then give this meal a try and I can bet that you will have some happy dinner guests who won’t be able to wait until the next time you offer to cook wild turkey for them. The below measurements fed six hungry adults with no leftovers.
Confit Wild Turkey Legs
- Two wild turkey legs, thighs attached
- 8 cups of olive oil
- One large red onion, finely diced
- Six cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Salt & pepper
- 1tbsp of ground nutmeg
- 1tbsp of ground cinnamon
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 10 leaves fresh sage
- 15-20 leaves fresh tarragon
- Preheat an oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Thoroughly season the turkey legs with salt and pepper and put into freezer bags (or better, vacuum-sealed bags) for 12-24 hours. Take the legs out of the bags, pat dry, and then sear over a thin layer of olive oil in a Dutch oven or large, deep, flat-bottomed roasting pan. Once the legs are browned, remove them and add the onions, garlic, nutmeg and cinnamon to the pan. Heat them until they are translucent, but do not brown them. Add the legs back to the pan, and add the herbs.
- Pour the remaining olive oil over the legs and herbs. I needed 8 cups of olive oil for the size of roasting pan I was using, your hardware may require more or less olive oil to cover the meat thoroughly. Bring the oil to a simmer on the stovetop (avoid boiling it) and then cover the pan and put it on the middle rack of the oven for at least four hours. The longer this simmers in the oven the more tender the meat will become.
- After at least four hours, remove the meat from the oil and let it cool slightly before shredding it by hand. Just before serving, quickly sear the shredded leg and thigh meat in a hot pan to crisp their edges.
Smoked Maple Wild Turkey Breast
For this I used Hank Shaw’s Smoked Wild Turkey Breast preparation and recipe, scaled up to handle two turkey breasts. I painted my turkey breasts with maple syrup and cayenne pepper, and I smoked them for three hours over maple wood.
Sweet Potato Puree
- 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 cups water
- 1tbsp cinnamon
- 1tbsp nutmeg
- 2tbsp maple syrup
- 2tsp cayenne pepper
- Over medium heat, simmer the sweet potatoes in the water until they are fork-tender.
- Add the dry spices and the maple syrup and simmer for five to ten more minutes.
- Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
- Blend until smooth.
- 15-20 spears of trimmed asparagus
- 1tsp vegetable oil
- 1/8 cup of water
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Chop the asparagus into one-inch lengths.
- Over high heat, stir the olive and asparagus in a pan and brown the asparagus.
- Add the water and continue to stir the asparagus until all the water has evaporated.
- Season to taste
- One avocado per guest
- Canola oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Have your grill very hot (mine was over 600 Fahrenheit).
- Cut the avocado lengthwise and remove the stone.
- Lightly oil the avocado meat and put it flat side down on the grill for 30 seconds.
- Rotate the avocado 90 degrees and grill for another 30 seconds if, like me, you like crosshatched grill marks on your food. You could easily skip rotating the avocados and just do 60 seconds total.
Wild Turkey Bourbon & Yogurt Sauce
- 1 cup of Greek-style yogurt
- 2 oz of Wild Turkey bourbon
- 1tsp of lemon juice
- 1tsp of grated lemon rind
- Tabasco Sauce to taste
- Combine all ingredients (except the Tabasco) until smooth and well incorporated.
- Add the Tabasco at the end to make this as spicy as you like it. This makes a great dip to balance the leg and breast meat.