July 2017
Your Next Meal From the Wildside

Wild Turkey on the Grill

A Versatile and Healthy Alternative

One of our favorite family meals of summer is savory, sticky, salty ribs cooking on the grill with thick, saucy baked beans and a deep pan of Creole-seasoned zucchini and squash on the side. We also add potato salad, corn on the cob and barbecue bread to the spread. This traditional seasonal feast definitely never goes unappreciated, but switching up the menu to add a little taste and nutritional variety can keep things interesting as you grill your way through the summer.

According to many sources, hamburgers are the longstanding, all-time favorite food to grill, but there are so many other choices such as Boston butts, steaks, fish and beer-can chicken. Because grilling is a key component of many of our meals from spring break to Labor Day, we use all kinds of proteins; but one food we don’t usually put on the grill is turkey. Turkey is really very versatile and can be a healthy grilling choice for your next meal.

 

Wild turkey is naturally low in calories and fat, and high in protein.

If you have a whole wild turkey from last season, you may want to put the whole bird on the grill like you would a chicken. You can do this, but timing your grilling to your expected mealtime is key. Grilling a whole turkey of 10-16 pounds can take two to three hours, depending on the size of the bird, and don’t forget to consider thawing time.

To speed cooking time, you can try spatchcocking your whole turkey. Spatchcocking is a technique that involves splitting open the bird, removing the backbone and flattening it. It’s similar to butterflying a steak and ensures a faster cooking time and thorough cooking. Butterflying a steak can lead to toughness, but your turkey can remain tender and moist if you brine, butter or otherwise baste it before grilling.

A quicker option for grilled wild turkey is using tenderloin in strips or medallions instead of cooking the entire bird. You can use them in some of the same ways you would use chicken or beef strips or chunks on the grill. Freezing the breast in strips will save time and effort at later mealtimes.

Wild turkey is naturally low in calories and fat, and high in protein. There are many ways to add flavor while still keeping it healthy.

These grilled turkey recipes focus on delicious flavors that will add variety to your summer menus. But if burgers are still your family’s favorite, you can always make a turkey burger starting with the base recipe below and adding your favorite ingredients to the mix.

 

TURKEY BURGERS

2 pounds ground wild turkey
1 large egg, at room temperature
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil
Add-ins:
1 serrano or other hot green chili pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
¼ cup minced red bell pepper
2 Tablespoons minced shallots
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground chili powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

In a bowl, combine turkey and egg, using your hands to blend. Season with salt and pepper.

Add additional ingredients as desired. Use your hands to mix well and blend. Season again with salt and pepper. Shape into patties of your desired thickness.

Brush olive oil on both sides of patties. Place on grill and cook for 6 minutes. Turn and grill for another 5 minutes or until desired doneness (thicker will take a little longer).

 

TURKEY TERIYAKI

¼ cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons brown sugar or honey
Minced ginger, to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1-1½ pounds turkey breast tenderloin, cut into 2-inch strips or chunks
½ pound mushrooms
4 green onions, cut in about 2-inch pieces
Metal or wooden skewers

Preheat covered grill to medium-hot heat.

In a 2-quart glass dish, combine soy sauce, sugar/honey, ginger, garlic and oil. Add turkey and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 15 minutes, but you can also marinate overnight. Remove turkey from marinade and discard marinade. Thread turkey onto skewers alternating with the mushrooms and green onions.

Place on grill and close cover. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until turkey is cooked through.

Note: If using bamboo or wooden kebab skewers, soak them in hot water for 20-30 minutes to prevent burning.

 

TURKEY BURRITOS

1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1½ teaspoons salt
1½-2 pounds turkey tenderloin, cut into ½-inch cubes
Avocado Corn Salsa (recipe included)
Metal or wooden skewers
Lime wedges
Flour tortillas
Sour cream and diced tomatoes, for garnish and to taste

Preheat covered grill to medium heat.

In a cup or small bowl, combine cumin, chili powder and salt. Place turkey cubes in a large plastic zip bag. Pour dry rub over turkey and shake to coat thoroughly. Let turkey sit while making salsa.

Rolley Len assists with salad prep.

 

Thread turkey onto skewers. Place skewers on grill and close cover. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until turkey is cooked through, turning once. Remove skewers from grill and squeeze lime wedges onto meat. Brush each side of tortillas lightly with water and place on grill; heat 10-15 seconds on each side. Put tortilla on a plate and top with turkey, salsa, sour cream and tomatoes.

Note: If using bamboo or wooden kebab skewers soak them in hot water for 20-30 minutes to prevent burning.

 

AVOCADO CORN SALSA

2 small to medium ripe avocados, finely chopped
1 cup cooked fresh corn or thawed frozen corn
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Chopped cilantro, to taste
2-3 Tablespoons lime juice
½-1 teaspoon hot green chili pepper, minced
½ teaspoon salt

In a medium bowl, gently stir all ingredients, adjusting flavors to taste as you mix. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

JERK TURKEY SALAD

 

Jerk Turkey Salad

6-8 ounces turkey breast tenderloin (2-3 servings)
1½ teaspoons Caribbean jerk seasoning
4 cups mixed salad greens
¾ cup cucumber, sliced and peeled
2/3 cup chopped pineapple
2/3 cup quartered strawberries or whole raspberries
Sliced celery, to taste
1 green onion, sliced
¼ cup lime juice
3 Tablespoons honey

Preheat grill to medium heat.

Rub turkey with jerk seasoning. Place turkey directly on the grill for 15-20 minutes or until turkey is cooked through and juices run clear. Turn once during cooking. Remove from grill and let cool.

Cut turkey into bite-size pieces. In a large bowl, put greens, cucumber, pineapple, berries, celery, green onion and turkey. Toss to mix. In a small bowl, combine lime juice and honey. Pour over salad and toss. Serve.

 

Christy Kirk is a freelance writer who lives in Little Texas.