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Turkey dishes not just for November

Last year I cooked some wild turkey for a group of friends. Like many, they were wary, expecting to taste something they hoped to tolerate but did not expect to like.

I cooked it in a simple way … turkey breast in a crockpot.

Then I sliced it and made home-made gravy for it. Most of those who tried it remarked how similar it tasted to what they called real turkey. They went back for seconds and there were no leftovers. And that is not the way I generally cook wild turkey.

From the day most of us got the recipe from The National Wild Turkey Federation back in the 1970s, we’ve converted to this simple way of preparing wild turkey — deep frying it. Yes, there are other ways besides roasting to cook turkey. It begins by skinning the bird instead of plucking. Then filet the breast meat off the bone.You’ll have two sizable chunks of breast meat, which can be prepared separately if desired.

I slice the breast filet into half-inch slices. Soak it in a mixture of milk and egg, which helps to tenderize it, for an hour before cooking. Remove from egg mixture, then roll in breadcrumbs and drop into hot oil in a skillet.

Cook a minute and a half on each side. Do not overcook. When breadcrumbs are golden brown, it’s ready.

Remove from heat with tongs, place on paper towel or brown bag to drain and serve immediately. Most of us who have fixed turkey breast this way never again cook it any other way. It is definitely my personal favorite wild turkey recipe.

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I received recipe booklet in the mail from Ducks Unlimited that contains some amazing menu items.

It features their brand of seasonings and marinades as well as some Lawry seasonings which I use a lot when I cook wild meat, especially on venison steaks and chops. It’s not to cover some wild taste either, because I do not believe there is any such thing as a wild taste, but because marinades can add so much wonderful flavoring.

The following recipe is an example of something so delicious it could be a company meal.

APPLE AND HICKORY

WILD TURKEY BREAST

2 cups Ducks Unlimited seasoned Hickory Marinade, divided

1 tbsp Ducks Unlimited Poultry and Game Seasoning and Rub.

2 cups apple juice, divided

2 boneless, skinless wild turkey breast halves

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp minced fresh gingerroot

2 tsp cornstarch mixed with equal part cold water

3 tbsp chilled butter

Sliced apple garnish, optional

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine one cup each of Seasoned Hickory Marinade and apple juice with the Poultry and Game Seasoning Rub. Reserve remaining marinade and juice. Place turkey in bag and seal. Marinate in refrigerator for 2-6 hours.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Remove marinated turkey from bag and pat dry with paper towels. Discard used marinade. Add turkey to pan and cook until browned, about five minutes. Turn breast over and cook for an additional two minutes. Add reserved marinade and juice, along with garlic and ginger to pan. Cook until liquid is reduced by half; about 8-10 minutes. Stir in cornstarch mixture to thicken and then reduce heat to medium. Remove turkey from skillet when just cooked. Slice breast across the grain of the meat into half-inch thick slices. Remove skillet from heat and whisk in chilled butter until melted. Spoon over sliced meat and garnish with sliced apples, if desired. This makes 6-8 servings

Marinate time: 2 -6 hours

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20-25 minutes.

I use turkey legs for soup or turkey and noodles, turkey and waffles, turkey and dumplings. Either roast the legs or even better, use a crockpot if you have one large enough to hold the legs and cook them until almost overdone. Remove the meat from the bones and make any of the above dishes.

A hunting buddy of mine from Mill Hall, Lee Russell, gave me this great recipe for turkey pie. This is great for company.

TURKEY PIE

1/3 cup chopped celery

2 cups seasoned stuffing mix

3 cups chopped turkey

6 tbsp Butter or oleo

2 tbsp onion

2 tbsp parsley

3 beaten eggs

¢ tsp pepper

1 5oz. can evaporated milk

4-oz. shredded cheddar cheese

1 tsp. salt

1 box of dried mushroom soup

Cook celery in butter until tender. Add 2/3-cup water and stuffing mix and set aside. Combine eggs, milk, soup mix, onion, pepper and salt. Stir in turkey.

Pour into 10- or 12-inch casserole skillet which has been greased. Sprinkle with cheese, top with stuffing, cover and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with mushroom sauce using two single envelopes of mushroom soup mix and one cup boiling water.

If you have a wild turkey in the freezer and wish to roast it, remember that it does not have the fat in the meat that a Butterball does and because of that, it must not be roasted as long as a supermarket bird. If you roast a 20-pound wild bird the same as long as a 20-pound domestic turkey, it will come out dry and tough. I’d reduce the roasting time by about an hour for a delicious experience.

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