Lots of hunters like chasing turkeys, and I’m with them all the way. Every now and then, a turkey can do something really stupid, but most of the time they are so wary they make deer seem as foolish as babes in the woods. Then, there is that final approach into range that sometimes takes forever. If I could hold my breath under water as long as I hold it when a wary tom finally decides he wants your decoy for his lady friend and approaches, I would be a world champion free diver. The excitement and suspense can be exhilarating.
As much fun as the hunting is, eating wild turkey should be a lot of fun too. They are all trophies, but don’t be afraid to experiment and develop fun ways to prepare them. Having an excellent and unique table experience is the way family and friends can help celebrate your trophy turkey.
Orange juice isn’t just for breakfast any longer. Most wild turkeys are pretty tender, but occasionally an old boss gobbler might be a little tough. While this preparation works well with any turkey, it was developed as a way to tenderize a larger, older bird. The key ingredient is the citric acid in the orange juice. It can be pretty strong and helps break down the tough muscle fibers before cooking. Cooking the turkey slowly and over lower heat also helps get it done without toughening it.
For this, I like to use less-expensive orange juices. They typically haven’t been filtered as much as some of the more expensive brands, and that edge you taste drinking them is citric acid. I also like to use the juices with pulp. They also typically have been strained less and are a little stronger. These are often called “country style” or something similar to denote this. The juices labeled as “pulp added” aren’t the same.
This recipe includes using pepper bacon to wrap some of the larger pieces of turkey. The primary intent is to prevent those pieces from drying out while cooking, but who doesn’t like bacon? All the pieces can be wrapped in bacon or left bare. This is a personal preference; I like to mix it up and have some of both.
Speaking of the bacon, I would like to tell you it is a great way to gauge when the turkey is ready, but it’s not always correct. Most pepper bacon is thick sliced and takes a while to cook over lower heat on the grill. Smaller pieces of turkey will be done before the bacon. If this happens, you can always peel the bacon off and cook it a little longer. After all, it has already flavored and protected the turkey. Pepper bacon is excellent on its own, but shouldn’t be eaten undercooked and absolutely shouldn’t be wasted.
Orange turkey kabobs
1 wild turkey breast
1 quart orange juice
1 red bell pepper
2 squash, (1 zucchini and 1 yellow preferred, but can be 2 of either)
1 small package mushrooms
1 medium sweet onion
6-12 slices of pepper bacon (more if wrapping all pieces of turkey and none if not wrapping any)
8th Wonder Spice Blend (www.8thwonderspice.com)
Buttery Pam spray
Soak skewers. Cube turkey breast into approximate 1-inch cubes. Put turkey cubes into a gallon Zip-loc bag and cover with orange juice. Squeeze air out and let soak in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Slice bell pepper, squash, onion and mushrooms into appropriate size for skewers. Spray veggies lightly with Pam and sprinkle with 8th Wonder to personal preference. Prepare a pot of brown rice. Drain turkey cubes into strainer. Cut pepper bacon slices into halves or thirds (the bacon must wrap around the cubes). Wrap half of the larger turkey cubes with pieces of pepper bacon and secure with a toothpick. For a little spice edge to the meal, sprinkle these cubes with 8th Wonder Spice Blend before wrapping. Sprinkle other turkey cubes with 8th Wonder (to personal preference). Thread cubes and veggies onto skewers, alternating them. Sometimes I make bacon turkey cubes and 8th Wonder turkey cubes skewers separate, and sometimes I mix them on the same skewer. Grill using a vegetable tray on low heat for approximately 12 minutes. The idea is to get the cubes done without drying them out. Rotate skewers and cook approximately 8 minutes. Serve skewers over brown rice while they are still hot. This is almost a complete meal. I like to add another veggie that can be cooked on the grill. Salsa and chips is a good appetizer.