Wild Turkey Cutlets by Chef Randy King

Wild Turkey Cutlets

Once you harvest your turkey, the next step is preparing the meat and cooking up a great wild meal. Idaho chef, Randy King, not only has turkey recipes to try, but also tips on how to prepare turkey meat to get the best taste and texture from your bird.

For the spring turkey hunt, King offers up a recipe for Wild Turkey Cutlets. For other wild meat preparations, see Chef King’s website:

Let's Talk Turkey

The total mass of a turkey is always surprising to me. I shoot other big birds like geese and sage hen often but a turkey is just a totally different ball game, and as such needs to be treated that way.

Turkeys consist of 5 cuts of meat in total: the breast, the tenderloin, the wings, the thighs and the drumsticks. Each of these bird parts beg for a separate cooking method. It is not wise to just roast a wild turkey like a butterball. The breast will probably be dry, the drumsticks will be good for dog chew toys and the thigh meat will require a steak knife.

This month I will concentrate on the breast meat of a turkey, by far the biggest bang for the buck.

Turkey breast meat is not as soft and juicy as store bought, but it has a ton more flavor. Think elk meat vs. beef – similar but still different. But like store bought meat it still needs cooked to 165 degrees to be safe to eat. Be careful when cooking meat to this temperature, it can be very dry. To avoid dry meat make sure to remove it from heat a whole 10 degrees before it reaches 165 degrees on the inside. Carry over cooking will finish the job of getting the meat to 165.

Breaded Turkey Cutlets with Oil Poached Garlic and Tomatoes served with Pan Roasted Orange

This recipe calls for turkey “cutlets” AKA  slices of turkey breast. Lay your breast out on the counter. It will make half of a heart shape. Cut across the grain of the meat in about ¼ inch sections. You will get quite a few. It is even a little easier to cut when the meat is frozen a little.

Take those slices and place them between two sheets of clear plastic film about an inch from each other. Use a mallet or the bottom of a pan to hammer the slices into almost see through thin sections. You now have turkey “cutlets” and they are a transformed piece of wild game meat. Bread them and fry them, add a squeeze of lemon, and you have the German classic schnitzel. And that classic dish is what we are having fun with today. Replace the sour lemon with a sweeter caramelized orange and add the roasted garlic and tomatoes – bang – a whole new take on a classic.

Oil Poached Garlic and Tomatoes

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes

In a small sauce pan add the garlic, tomatoes and oil. Turn heat to medium low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Reserve in warm location. This will create more than you need for this recipe. Store them in a mason jar in the fridge, covered in oil and they will last up to a year. Just microwave the jar when you want some roasted garlic and tomatoes.

Pan Roasted Orange

  • 2  oranges, cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

In a medium sized cast iron skillet add the oil and then the orange halves, flesh side down. Heat on medium until the exposed orange flesh is dark brown. Remove pan from heat. Reserve.

Turkey Cutlets

  • 8 each 2 oz. turkey cutlets
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning herb blend
  • ¼ cup canola oil

Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan or cast iron on medium heat until a wooden spoon inserted into the oil just gives off bubbles and floats. Or head oil to 350 degrees. (This is an old German trick that I learned in Singapore, long story…all I know is that it works. The oil temp will be about 350 degrees)

Gather three small bowls. Place the flour, milk and bread crumbs in separate bowls. In the flour bowl add the black pepper, Italian seasoning and salt. Mix the flour and other ingredients  together.

Place cutlets in the flour and coat all sides evenly. Then place the cutlet in the milk, wetting all sides. Then place the cutlet in the bread crumbs, forcefully pushing bread crumbs into all parts of the turkey cutlet. Reserve the breaded cutlet on a plate. Bread the remaining slices.

Carefully place one cutlet at a time in the hot oil. Cook the cutlet until it is golden brown and delicious, or “GB&D,” on one side then flip. Cook the other side until GB&D as well. Reserve the fried cutlets on a paper towel lined plate.

Sage Grouse

I photograph Sage Grouse every year west of Arco. I arrive at 4 in the morning to setup my blind and listen as they fly in just before first light. The drumming and strutting attract the ladies. great photo opps.

E.R. Kammerath - Deputy Game Warden, 1931.

E.R. Kammerath Deputy Certificate

In 2005, Idaho native, Jennifer Jackson, began her career with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game as a Regional Conservation Educator in the southeast region.  Part of a long line of outdoorsmen, she thought she held the distinction as the first Fish and Game employee from her clan.  Not so.

A Christmas present from her mother the first year of her employ revealed a part of her family’s history that Jackson had not known.  Wrapped in a cardboard box were three family mementos— nine old metal deer and elk tags from the 1950s, a deputy game warden badge, and a certificate assigning Jackson’s grandfather the commission of “Deputy Game Warden without pay” signed by former State Fish and Game Warden, M.P. Bailey, in 1931.

Jackson’s grandfather, E.R. Kammerath, was the first family member to work for the early version of what became the Idaho Department of Fish and Game —even if without pay.  His full-time job was working as a jeweler at Christman’s Jewelry Store in Montpelier, a store he later purchased and operated under his name.  Kammerath was also an official Union Pacific Time Inspector.  Railroad engineers were required to have their time pieces checked for accuracy by Kammerath when they came through town.  But, as Jackson discovered, he was not only responsible for helping keep engineers on time, Kammerath helped keep hunters and anglers in line.

Today, Kammerath’s badge, certificate, and some of his old unfilled deer and elk tags sit on a bookshelf inside his granddaughter’s office at Fish and Game.  Jackson, who never knew her grandfather, says that she feels a strong connection to him because of his early role in wildlife management and conservation.

“It is one thing to see pictures of him fishing with my mother and hear stories of how he loved upland bird hunting with his dogs.  Those are special traditions for sure,”  Jackson says.  “But, I feel something else when I hold the very badge he used to wear when he was out in the field as a deputy game warden decades ago.  It reminds me that we are connected by another important family tradition—that of working for Idaho’s wildlife resource and the people who cherish it.”