You can ask anyone in the turkey community, and they will agree: a longbeard's gobble can rattle your bones. It brings us back season after season, and is a growing love of the spring that roots deeper each year. The great state of Michigan has been my life-long stomping ground, but my developing desire to chase the Wild Turkey Grand Slam leads me to wander. Looking into the future, I plan to begin the next step of that goal in the Spring of 2023 with Merriam’s in Nebraska.
Through waterfowl hunting in the winter, I have become very fond of Western Nebraska making it the perfect place to start this journey for the memory books. However, my passion for wild turkeys does not stop in the woods, it extends into the post-harvest process and cooking methods.
I’ve grown irritated from years of hearing “turkeys are too tough and gamey to eat.” I believe if you spend more time on the processing and preparation than most people do, your culinary horizons start to broaden. I challenge turkey veterans to branch out, and with those new to turkey hunting or cooking, I would refer them to trying one of my recipes as a starting point.
One of the greatest things about cooking wild game is that it mirrors the pursuit. It’s part of the larger adventure and experience that doesn’t stop at the trigger pull. Turkeys present a fantastic opportunity to get into the kitchen and craft a meal that most people would love, and I encourage you to try something new with your bird this year. The limits are endless and a favorite among my group has been my Southern Fried Nuggets.
I created this recipe because of my fondness for crispy, fried chicken. Just like any good fried chicken, it starts with your seasoned buttermilk marinade. While your turkey breasts are marinating, start on your dredge. A good dredge needs to be salty with a little bit of heat. The base of my dredge is all-purpose flour - followed by salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper powder. Full recipe is as follows:
- Two Turkey breasts cubed into nuggets
- Half gallon buttermilk
- 1 splash of pickle juice
- 1 tablespoon “slap ya mama” seasoning
- 3 ½ cups All-Purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
Step 1: Take your cleaned turkey breasts to a cutting board and cut into bite size nuggets, while transferring the cut nuggets into your buttermilk marinade.
Step 2: Soak turkey nuggets in marinade for at least two hours or up to 24 hours.
Step 3: Combine your dry ingredients for your seasoned dredge
Step 4: Take a little bit of your marinade and splash it into your dry dredge to create little flakes of dredge. (Helps add texture and crispiness)
Step 5: Pull nuggets out of marinade and transfer into your dry dredge.
Step 6: Pull nuggets from dry dredge and shake. Place breaded nuggets onto a cook tray to transport to the fryer
Step 7: Place nuggets into fryer with oil preheated to 375 degrees (Use frying oil of your choice) cook till an internal temperature of 165 degrees and breading is golden and crispy.
Step 8: Place on a wire rack to let grease drip off, ensuring a crunchy nugget.