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Baked "Fried" Wild Turkey

Stacy Harris | www.gameandgarden.com

fried turkey fingersI was inspired to create this appetizer while attending and evening wedding of a lifelong friend. It seemed everyone had tried chicken fingers with honey mustard sauce, and I thought this would work great with wild turkey.

Baked "fried" wild turkey is the healthy version of the popular southern favorite, deep fried turkey. These "turkey fingers" are a huge hit at any occasion and can be frozen and reheated without losing flavor or that crunchy texture of the crust and tenderness of the meat.

Many of my friends will only fry their harvested wild turkeys, because they say that it's the only way they can make it taste good. It is understandable; the meat of a wild turkey is quite different than that of the domesticated or farm-raised varieties. Because wild turkeys constantly forage for food, fly and run very fast, they build up more muscle fiber and connective tissue. This causes the meat to be tougher than the domesticated varieties which are bred to produce abnormally large breasts causing them to be somewhat immobile.

The flavor of a wild bird is far superior to that of the domesticated variety but must be treated differently in preparation to break down the muscle fiber and connective tissue. one easy and fool-proof technique is to pound your turkey with a meat mallet before cooking. This tears the fibers and connective tissue and relaxes the muscle of the turkey. 

Be prepared to keep this recipe in a very special place, because your family and friends will ask for it again and again. Don't forget to make a double batch and freeze some for later.

Hint: If reheating frozen baked "fried" wild turkey, preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Place the frozen turkey on a sheet pan about 2 inches apart and heat until warmed through and crust is golden brown and crunchy, about 8-10 minutes. 

Turkey Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 1 wild turkey breast
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 cups plain breadcrumbs
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Non-stick olive oil spray
  • Red pepper flakes

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preparation method

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Slice turkey breast into 3/4-inch slices then pound the slices with a meat mallet to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut the pounded turkey into 2x6 inch strips and moderately salt and pepper them.
  3. Combine yogurt and honey in a medium-size bowl. Put breadcrumbs on a separate plate. Dredge turkey pieces in yogurt mixture, then coat with breadcrumbs.
  4. Place covered turkey slices onto a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick olive oil spray. Coat top of turkey liberally with non-stick olive oil spray. Place in oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked through.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine mustard, honey and balsamic vinegar. Mix well.
  6. Remove turkey from oven and place on serving platter. Serve with honey mustard sauce. Garnish with red pepper flakes.

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