If you were successful during spring turkey season and returned home with some a big ‘ol tom, here is a great way to prepare it. Wild turkey meat is really lean and tends to dry out when cooked. Brining the bird is crucial to keeping it juicy. The quick frying of bite-sized nuggets seals in the flavor and keeps them moist. This works well with domestic turkey also. Give this one a try even if you didn’t get to hunt the big bird this spring.
- 4 cups water
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 Whole Turkey Breast
- Cajun seasoning
- 3 eggs
- Panko bread crumbs
- Vegetable oil
Put the salt, brown sugar, and water into a large zip lock, then seal and shake until fully dissolved. Split the turkey breast down the middle into two halves and place them into the brine bag. Let this chill in the refrigerator overnight.Remove the breasts from the brine and separate the meat from the breast bone. Slice the meat into pieces, ½” thick. Then cut these into “nuggets” of about 1”- 2” square. Season the pieces generously with the Cajun seasoning. They are now ready to bread.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended and season with some of the Cajun spice. Fill another medium bowl about half-full with the Panko bread crumbs. Dip the turkey chunks into the egg and then press them into the Panko crumbs until well coated on all sides. Lay these on a plate or paper towel until ready to fry.
Heat the oil in a large skillet or fryer over medium-high heat, until the oil reaches 350 °F. Fry the nuggets until golden brown, about four minutes per side, flipping them once. You will have to fry the nuggets in several batches. Do not put too many in the pan at once, as it lowers the temperature of the oil and they won’t get the crispy golden crust you are looking for. Remove them to a metal rack to drain and they will stay nice and crunchy.
A perfect accompaniment for the fried turkey is sweet potato fries. You can cut and fry them yourself from scratch or there are some excellent frozen options available in the grocery stores. I also recommend a dipping sauce of some ranch dressing with a bit of sriracha sauce blended in.
This tasty treat is a natural to pair with beer. I like a tropical, fruit forward, hoppy American IPA as my first choice. A robust, nutty porter really pulls together with the sweet potatoes and is quite satisfying, also. As for wine, a chilled dry Rose’ is a great choice in a lighter wine. A west coast Pinot Noir would be my choice for a red to round out a great meal of turkey nuggets.