By. Danielle Prewett of Wild + Whole
Inspired by the Spring season, this tender pan-roasted turkey breast is cooked with asparagus in a bright pan sauce made with white wine, tangy feta cheese and fresh dill. If you forage, this is the perfect opportunity to use wild asparagus which is beyond delicious with the sauce. Wild turkey is one of my favorite things to eat but it can be a little daunting sometimes, especially if you want to avoid the all too familiar dry breast meat. Here are two things I keep in mind to ensure a juicy piece of meat:
The first is keeping the skin on and scoring. I highly encourage you to pluck and cook with the skin intact because that layer acts as a protective barrier to the meat and keeps it from drying out. If you have a large, fatty Tom taken early in the Spring season, you can score the skin (much like a duck) on the upper portion of the breast that helps to release the fat when cooking so that you can crisp the skin. However, even after removing the sponge (fat reservoir on adult males covering the top of the breast and crop cavity) there can still be a gelatinous layer of fatty tissue underneath skin that won’t get crispy. If this is the case, just remove the skin before eating.
The second thing I like to do with a very large bird is to cut the lower portion of the breast off. You will notice that the breast meat is thick towards the top (about 2 or more inches) and then gets dramatically thinner towards the bottom. I cut the breast crosswise right where the breast meat begins to thin out (usually the lower 1/3 portion). You can save those pieces from each breast for an entirely separate meal, mine were each about the size of a large pheasant breast. The reason for this is because when roasted, the meat will never cook evenly if kept whole (unless you’re slow-cooking or smoking it). By the time the upper portion reaches the target internal temperature (150 degrees), the thin lower portion is way past that resulting in dry, over-cooked meat. The recipe shown here uses the thick top portion for pan-roasting. I served this on top of a healthy portion of orzo pasta but any starchy side or some sautéed morel mushrooms would work perfectly.
Turkey with Asparagus and Feta
1 large (or 2 small) turkey breasts (roughly 2 lb)
salt & pepper
1 – 2 bundles of asparagus, woody ends trimmed or snapped off
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 C. white wine (dry and crisp)
1 C. turkey/chicken stock
2 T. butter
2 T. crumbled feta cheese
fresh chopped dill for serving
Oil for cooking
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
If you have a fatty bird, use a sharp knife to score through the skin in a cross-hatch pattern to
release the fat and juices.
Season generously on both sides (make sure to get under the skin
too) with salt and pepper. For best results do this step 24 hours in advance.
Add about a teaspoon or more of oil to a large, cold sauté pan and place the turkey skin side
down. Turn the heat to medium-high. Let it sizzle and cook, undisturbed, until the skin crisps to a golden color (about 5 minutes). Flip and brown for another 3 minutes on the other side. If
your turkey is skinless, you should brown it once the oil is hot on both sides. If your pan is small, work in batches to avoid over-crowding. Remove and set aside.
Turn the heat down and let pan and oil cool for a moment if it reached smoking point. Add another splash of oil and sauté minced garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up bits at the bottom. Let it boil down to cook the alcohol off. Add the stock and continue to let it simmer for several minutes until reduced by half. Swirl in the butter and once melted, add the asparagus and sprinkle in the feta cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Return the turkey to the pan, wedging it in the center with the asparagus around it and transfer the whole sauté pan to the oven. Cook the turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. This took me approximately15 minutes for a turkey breast that was 2” thick. Let the meat rest under foil to reach a final temperature of 150 degrees. Peel off the skin before slicing and serve with the asparagus and a generous sprinkle of chopped dill.
Danielle Prewett, the woman behind Wild + Whole, is joining MeatEater as a Wild Foods Cooking contributor! Danielle is passionate about what she does. She believes wholeheartedly in knowing where her food comes from, which is why every recipe you’ll find includes wild game she has hunted herself. With each recipe, Danielle tries to raise the standards of wild game cooking by creating delicious, healthy meals. Danielle was drawn to hunting because she wanted to develop a deeper connection to what she eats. Beginning today, you’ll find Danielle’s new wild game recipes exclusively at MeatEater.
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