Editor’s Note: Today, one more suggestion to help make your Thanksgiving feast even more special from our friends at the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission.
FWC photo by Andy Wraithmell.
Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for all who cherish its traditions involving friends, family and food. Some love preparing dishes from recipes that have been passed down through the generations. Others enjoy experimenting with new flavors. An interesting culinary trend is using organic ingredients, and serving wild turkey for Thanksgiving is a delicious, clean-eating option.
“Florida’s abundant wild turkey populations can provide the ultimate locally-sourced, organic Thanksgiving feast when knowledge, skill and good fortune come together for a successful hunt,” said Chef Justin Timineri, executive chef and culinary ambassador for Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “We’ve developed several mouthwatering wild turkey recipes for the big day and ways to serve leftovers using a variety of Fresh from Florida products.”
Wild turkey is a tasty and versatile protein. Fresh from Florida chefs adapted several recipes to use wild turkey ranging from Tikka Masala (below), an Indian dish traditionally served with chicken, to wild turkey quesadillas and wild turkey cottage pie (a take on shepherd’s pie). Because wild turkey meat is low in fat, techniques for cooking them differ from domestic birds, and the Fresh from Florida chefs provide recipes and tips on how to prepare tender, juicy meals.
The Sunshine State is home to robust populations of two wild turkey subspecies: the eastern and the Osceola wild turkey. Florida is unique because the Osceola subspecies lives nowhere else in the world but on the state’s peninsula.
“Turkey hunting in Florida is a chance to experience the outdoors in a very special way,” said Roger Shields, wild turkey program coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). “However, wild turkeys are extremely wary and possess sharp eyesight and excellent hearing so hunting them is a challenge.”
The FWC uses scientifically proven wildlife management strategies and professional expertise to meet conservation objectives and perpetuate sustainable turkey hunting opportunities. You can learn more about wild turkeys, including their behavior, habitat needs, and where they live in Florida at MyFWC.com.
RECIPE: FLORIDA WILD TURKEY TIKKA MASALA
2 Florida wild turkey thighs (skin removed)
5 Florida tomatoes, diced small
½ cup Florida bell pepper, diced small
½ Florida onion, diced small
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
3 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
Oil, for cooking
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Preheat a large pan to medium-high heat and add 1 teaspoon oil. Season the turkey thighs with salt and pepper and sear on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium and add 1 teaspoon oil. Sauté bell peppers and onion for two minutes, then add garlic and ginger. Sauté for one more minute. Stir in tomato paste and mix well. Next add all the dry spices and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes (do not drain) and broth, stirring to combine. Place the turkey thighs in the sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and cover for two to three hours (cook time will depend on size of turkey thighs). Stir every thirty minutes. Add stock or water if liquid evaporates or gets low. When meat is tender and ready to serve, stir in heavy cream and cilantro. Serve over noodles or rice.
Fresh From Florida food fact: Tikka Masala is an Indian dish traditionally served with chicken as the protein. We have adapted this recipe to use Florida wild turkey.