A Forager’s Feast Starring Wild Turkey

Eric’s brother-in-law and nephew visited this past weekend. They’re both serious outdoorsmen so the three musketeers spent the entire weekend fishing and turkey hunting.

Gary, Eric’s brother-in-law, brought a turkey he shot opening day so we could all enjoy it for dinner Saturday night. He had plucked and boned it, and he asked me to prepare it. He suggested I season the turkey with salt and pepper and bake it in a covered casserole dish with lots of butter. Gary was worried the turkey would dry out if we cooked it uncovered. He also suggested I cook the turkey with the bunch of wild leeks he had picked Saturday morning while hunting with Eric and Jake (nephew). He figured the bird would take an hour to an hour-and-a-half to cook in a 350-degree oven.

I did as told and seasoned the bird with lots of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. I rubbed soft butter all over the meat. I scattered the wild leeks, whose heady aroma filled my kitchen, around, on top of and below the turkey. I poured some cheap white wine that had been aging in my fridge into the roasting pan, which I covered, and put it in the oven around 7 o’clock. I prepared garlic mashed potatoes to go with the turkey and a salad of dandelion greens that I had picked the night before.

The guys staggered into the house shortly after 8 PM after several hours of fishing. I didn’t think they’d be home until 8:30, but they were beat from having woken up at 4 in the morning to hunt turkeys. They were also famished. I checked the turkey as soon as their truck rolled into the driveway. It appeared to be done and it smelled wonderful.

Amazingly, the bird was perfectly cooked. When Gary sliced into it, the white meat was tender and juicy. When we tasted it, it was succulent and sweet, as if the turkey had been eating from sugar bushes while it was alive.

And the wild leeks: The hour in the oven rendered the ramps’ bite a rich tasting flavor.

How do you like to prepare wild turkey?

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