How many of you toss the legs, thighs, and wings of the wild turkeys you take? Not you, you say? Well, maybe you know a guy. If you aren’t using the dark meat of your hard earned birds, you’re letting a delicious, lean protein source go to the varmints. My wife recently killed an eastern wild turkey, and the boneless, skinless yield was as follows:
Live weight – 14.7 lbs
Breast – 3.86 lbs (26%)
Thighs – 1.47 lbs (10%)
Drumsticks – 1.22 lbs (8%)
Wings and trimmings – 0.9 lbs (6%)
If we had only breasted out this turkey, we would have tossed 3.59 pounds (24%) of her prize. Don’t do that! Your depression era elders would not approve! Sure it takes more time, but did you really need to check Facebook for the 37th time today? If you use the recipe below, you will never let those “tough old legs” go to the scavengers again.
Honey Sriracha Turkey Jerky
3# Ground Wild Turkey (Dark meat)
4.5 Tbsp Honey
1.5 Tbsp Kosher Salt
- Kill a wild turkey. At times turkeys do not want to cooperate with step 1, so you may substitute store bought turkey. (I don’t recommend using store bought ground turkey for jerky. If you must buy your turkey, buy whole cuts and grind them yourself)
- Skin the turkey and debone the drumsticks, thighs, and wings. Pay special attention to the drumsticks as they are full of tendons. A filet knife works best for this job.
- Run the meat through a meat grinder twice. Coarse grind first, then fine grind. I use the kitchenaid grinder attachment for my wife’s standalone mixer. Notice I said the mixer belongs to my wife, no self respecting outdoorsman would admit he has a standalone mixer.
- Mix all of the ingredients together using a potato masher and let it sit in the fridge for an hour (or overnight) to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.
- Take a break! You’ve earned it.
- Stuff into a jerky gun and squeeze into even strips on dehydrator racks. I use “The Judge” Artisan Jerky Gun
- Place in your dehydrator or into your oven until the jerky breaks upon bending, but does not snap. I used my oven, set on 170 degrees Fahrenheit, with a wooden spoon wedged in the door to allow air to circulate. It took about 8 hours with this very scientific method. You could also use your smoker if you wish to impart a smoky flavor to the jerky. Times will vary depending on a multitude of factors, so you’ll want to do this on a day when you can check the jerky periodically for “doneness.”
- Once the jerky is complete, I store it in plastic bags in individual portions in the freezer. Freezing prevents any worry of bacteria forming. It will thaw very quickly and is great for a quick breakfast or snack.
This is my favorite way to use the dark meat of the wild turkey. Let me know how this turns out for you in the comments.