Cooking wild turkey is one of the main benefits that comes with hunting them. When cooked correctly, they are delicious! And there are several ways to cook them. The following recipe will take a break from cooking the breast of a wild turkey and focus on the pieces that some hunters are guilty of neglecting, the thighs and legs.
Thighs and legs off wild turkey are extremely versatile and can be used for a variety of dishes including traditional enchiladas with homemade sauce. Prepping the legs and thighs properly will ensure you have plenty of boneless meat to make several batches.
One of my favorite ways to cook wild turkeys is by turning them into Wild Turkey Enchiladas. There are several tricks to making enchiladas, including frying your corn tortillas to make it pliable, so they won’t crack or break when rolling with a tasty filling. There are no special ingredients you have to search specialty markets for, and even the sauce is quick and easy to make.
You can add heat to the filling or sauce with jalapenos or chili flakes. Wild turkey enchiladas is a great dish the whole family will love, or you can spoil everyone at hunting camp with your cooking prowess.
What You'll Need:
- ⅓ cup canola or vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- ½ cup red pepper, diced
- ½ cup yellow pepper, diced
- 2 cups cooked wild turkey, chopped (dark meat from the legs and thighs)
- 1 (8-ounce) can green chilies
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 2 ½ cups grated cheese (medium or sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Colby)
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan to medium and sauté the onions for 3 minutes. Add the peppers and turkey and reduce the heat to medium-low and continue sautéing for a few more minutes until the onions and peppers soften. Remove from heat.
- Stir in the green chilies, sour cream, 1 ½ cups of the grated cheese and half the cilantro. Set this mixture aside.
- Spread enough enchilada sauce to cover the bottom of a casserole or baking dish (a 9” x 13” pan works well).
- In a clean frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil to low-medium. Quickly fry a tortilla on both sides to soften it, about 10-20 seconds per side, but don’t fry until crisp. Lay the tortilla briefly on a paper towel to absorb some of the oil and fill it with about ⅓ cup of the meat mixture. Roll the tortilla up around the filling in a cigar shape, and place seam side down in the baking dish. Add a bit more oil to the frying pan and continue softening and filling tortillas one at a time.
- Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the rolled-up tortillas and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes until the sides are bubbling and the enchiladas are heated through. If cheese isn’t bubbling, broil for a few minutes. Sprinkle the remaining cilantro over the top and serve with salsa and sour cream.
Making Enchilada Sauce
What You'll Need:
*The following portion amounts will make 2 cups of sauce
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 1 Tbsp chili powder (use hot or mild to your liking)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp salt
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 3 tsp vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Enchilada Sauce Cooking Instructions:
- Mix the flour, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl.
- In a small pot, heat the oil to medium until it’s hot enough to sizzle when a sprinkle of flour is added. Add the spice mixture to the pot, and whisk constantly about 1 minute, until the spices deepen in color a bit and become aromatic, being careful not to burn the spices. Whisk in the tomato paste and slowly pour in the broth, continuing to whisk to remove all the lumps.
- Bring the heat up to medium-high and simmer the mixture for about 5-7 minutes until the sauce thickens.
- Remove from the heat, whisk in the vinegar and add black pepper, to taste.
Preparing Wild Turkey Legs & Thighs
Preparing wild turkey legs and thighs allows you to make wild turkey soup stock, and have tender, shredded meat ready to make a variety of recipes with.
- Place cleaned wild turkey legs and thighs into a crockpot and cover them completely with water
- Add ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp black pepper and turn the pot on high (you can also use a stock pot on the stove).
- Once at a rolling boil you can turn to low if the liquid continues to simmer. The long, slow simmer will make the turkey meat extremely tender, with no gristle residue. Let the liquid and turkey cool.
- Shred the turkey meat by hand, removing all the small bones found in turkey legs. There will be several cups of boneless, extremely tender meat when completed.
The broth should be saved for soup or other wild game recipes and can be strained to clarify. It will be concentrated and can be diluted with some water.