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Up here in Ontario, we are among the last wild turkey habitats to get a proper spring. I’ve hunted turkeys in blizzards, and I’ve been out on the last weekend of May in a heavy coat and toque. Although we are building our own wild turkey tradition in the province, the traditions we are developing are built on the back of a greater historical legacy, one that is arguably rooted in the US South (apologies to Pennsylvania). All the yarns and tales of turkey hunting that I grew up reading were in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana. It is a staple sandwich from that last state that my mind headed to when I pulled the trigger on my biggest tom turkey to date in early May of this year. I had been to New Orleans pre-Katrina and had fallen immediately in love with the people, the food, and city’s culture. I went once again in 2013 for a business engagement, and although things had changed in the Crescent City, po’ boy sandwiches had not. They remained everything that a sandwich should be: simple, portable, and packed with flavour.
Enter our MEAT Grinder Giveaway
I am fortunate enough to live five minutes from a local bakery that makes one of the closest replicas I can find to a traditional New Orleans po’ boy bread, and the dredge was a mixture I picked up from a Canadian-owned small business that specializes in wild game seasonings. For this recipe I tried to stay as true to a po’ boy sandwich’s New Orleans roots as I could; crispy fried turkey nuggets, cool shredded iceberg lettuce, rich spicy mayonnaise, and juicy tomatoes on crusty French bread.
Leaning back in a chair in the sunshine of a warm late-spring afternoon, biting into this sandwich with a cold beer at the ready, I could almost hear the jazz playing outside the Market Café on Decatur Street.
Enjoy it, friends.
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Wild Turkey Po’ BoyCourse: Wild Recipes
1.5 lbs wild turkey breast (roughly one whole turkey breast)
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup Louisiana-style hot sauce
1 cup Hunting Season Spice Company “Dirty Bird” seasoned flour mix
Vegetable oil (for deep frying)
1 foot long French loaf or baguette
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp Louisiana-style hot sauce
1 head of iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
2 heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced
- Chop the wild turkey breast into rough cubes or strips.
- Place the wild turkey into a glass bowl and add the buttermilk and hot sauce.
- Let marinade, stirring occasionally for at least four hours and up to twelve hours.
- Place a zip-top bag in a large bowl and pour the seasoned flour mix in the bag.
- Add half of the wild turkey to the bag, letting most of the buttermilk drain from each piece before adding to the bag. Shake the turkey in the seasoned flour mixture until thoroughly coated.
- Remove the coated pieces of turkey to a baking tray or rack. Repeat the previous step for the other half of the wild turkey. Discard remaining seasoned flour.
- Heat your oil to 350 degrees in a deep cast iron pan or large pot/wok.
- Working in small batches, fry the wild turkey pieces until golden brown, ensuring the oil temperature does not drop between batches. When the turkey pieces are golden brown remove them to a rack to drain. Season to taste with salt and pepper while they drain.
- Repeat until all turkey pieces are fried.
- Mix the mayonnaise and hot sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
- Slice the bread lengthwise, making a “top” and “bottom” piece. Spread all of the mayonnaise mixture over both pieces.
- On the “bottom” piece, pile the fried wild turkey, while putting the sliced tomato then the shredded lettuce on the “top” piece.
- Assemble the sandwich so that the turkey is on the “bottom”, the sliced tomatoes are on the “top”, and the lettuce is between them.
- Slice the sandwich into quarters and enjoy.