Braised Wild Turkey Breast

This coaxes even a tough old gobbler breast into something tender, moist and flavorful. A typical adult gobbler has about 4lbs of trimmed, boneless skinless breast meat. You can also use the thighs and the legs.
Hover here for the “skinny” on fat…

Game sausage recipes always include added fat, usually pork. They use words like “shoulder trimmings” or “butt” or just “fat”.

The noble pig sports several types:

  • FatBack: (a.k.a. back fat) The hard fat found on the back of the pig. With a high melting point It is exceptionally well suited for sausage. It sometimes comes skin-on, in which case be sure to remove the skin.
  • Jowl fat: Prized by fancy artisinal sausage makers for it’s more creamy texture.
  • Shoulder Butt: (a.k.a. Boston butt, shoulder) A roast heavily marbled with excellent fat for sausage. The butt is the most common fat specified in game recipes. Keep in mind a whole butt is about 30% fat, 70% lean. Butt trimmings are much higher in fat percentage, up to 90% depending on who did the trimming. So there is a huge difference and they are not interchangeable in a sausage recipe.
  • Belly Fat: (a.k.a pork belly, where bacon comes from) A soft fat with a low melting point. Some recipes call for it, but some sources consider it unsuited for sausage. Probably best not to use belly fat or bacon unless the recipe calls for it or you’re experimenting on purpose.
  • Kidney Fat: (a.k.a. leaf lard) A hard intestinal fat concentrated around the kidneys. Possibly too hard for sausage, but it makes the flakiest pastries and the best lard.

Be warned that many grocery store meat counter folks, and even some butchers, don’t understand all of the above. I’ve had butchers tell me there is no difference between back fat and shoulder fat, and it just ain’t so.

Cost can vary all over the place – from free or close to it, to those who will charge as if it was loin. $1/lb or more for fat seems a bit like robbery.

Print Recipe
Braised Wild Turkey Yum
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
  1. Trim meat and coat with olive oil. Apply rub liberally.
  2. Wrap in cellophane and refrigerate overnight in something that will hold leaks.
  3. Preheat oven to 400­°F
  4. Unwrap and place directly on the bottom of a greased roasting pan (no rack or grate). Use a pan that is not too big for the amount of meat or you'll need way too much braising liquid.
  5. Drizzle a little more olive oil over meat and add mirepoix (onion/celery/carrot).
  6. Place in oven, uncovered. Turn occasionally until evenly browned (45 minutes or so).
  7. Add braising liquid to about 1 inch depth. No need to be precise, but two things you should NOT do: completely cover the meat, or run out of liquid while cooking.
  8. Lower oven to 300­°F. Cover pan tightly with a lid or aluminum foil.
  9. After 2 hours check every half hour for consistency, and to see there is at least half an inch of liquid left (add more if needed). When it is fork tender, it's done. 4 hours should be plenty.
  10. Set the meat aside covered in foil.
  11. Strain the braising liquid. If there's much visible fat (there won't be with wild turkey), ladle it off.
  12. Mix cornstarch well with a like amount of cold water to make a slurry.
  13. Thicken the braising liquid into a gravy by whisking in the cornstarch slurry. Then simmer a couple of minutes to reduce. Season to taste.
  14. For drumsticks, use a fork to pull the meat from all those fussy bones.
  15. Return meat to oven covered, to bring it back up to serving temp if needed. The gravy can be served spooned over carved slices, on the side, or added/tossed with shredded meat.
  16. Best served right away. It refrigerates and freezes fine, but if reheating without sauce use a moist method and maybe add some water or stock. It can be a bit dry.
Recipe Notes

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