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Wild Turkey and Morels with Chardonnay Lemon Beurre Blanc: ‘Braising the Wild’

Jack Hennessy's recipe from "Braising the Wild": Wild Turkey and Morels with Chardonnay Lemon Beurre Blanc.
Credit: Dara Hennessy

The title of the recipe alone gets me revved up. As usual, Jack Hennessy has some good timely tips, including on use of morels, if you have them.

Here is this week’s recipe from Hennessy’s “Braising the Wild,” part of the expanded outdoors coverage in the Sports Saturday wrapper in the Sun-Times.

Wild Turkey and Morels with Chardonnay Lemon Beurre Blanc

Let me make this very clear: I brine every single wild bird I shoot. And it makes all the difference, especially for wild turkey. Wild birds are incredibly lean compared to their domestic counterparts, meaning there isn’t the necessary fat to keep it tender and moist while cooking.

Brine your wild birds and you’ll retain more moisture while cooking. Here is my go-to brine for any bird (please note brining time varies depending on size of cut or bird):

1 gallon cold water

1/2 cup non-iodized salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 bulb garlic, peeled and smashed

10 ounces ginger, smashed

1/4 cup black peppercorns

(Mix all thoroughly until salt dissolves then add turkey)

For wild turkey breasts, I recommend brining for 10-12 hours. No longer. A longer soak could result in a salty-tasting bird. Also, you MUST thoroughly rinse off the brine afterwards. If you don’t, it’ll feel like you’re taking each bite with a teaspoon of salt.

If you are lucky enough to come across wild morels this spring, this recipe pairs great with them. If not, sliced cremini (or baby Portobello) mushrooms would also work. Below are the ingredients for the Chardonnay beurre blanc.

2 cups Chardonnay wine, reduced to half

2 large gloves of fresh garlic, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon each of kosher salt and black pepper

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 pound salted butter

1 lemon, juiced

Other needed ingredients (feeds four):

One bunch of asparagus, sliced thinly

Half a medium yellow onion, finely diced

One 16-ounce box of penne pasta

16 or more ounces wild turkey, cubed

8 ounces sliced morels or cremini mushrooms

Fresh thyme and Italian parsley, finely minced

To prepare:

  1. In medium sauce pan heated on medium-low, add wine, garlic, salt and pepper and reduce Chardonnay to half its original amount. Once reduced, add heavy whipping cream and juiced lemon and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Cut butter into pats. Turn off heat on sauce pan and slowly stir in butter, 2-3 pats at a time until dissolved. Set beurre blanc aside.
  3. Cook penne pasta and set aside.
  4. Cut wild turkey into nickel-size cubes. In a large sauté pan heated on medium high, add a thin layer of oil. Sear onions and asparagus then add wild turkey. Add a dusting of salt and pepper and freshly minced thyme, along with washed mushrooms. Toss ingredients until turkey is done.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, add a serving’s worth of penne, sauté pan contents, plus a ladle or two of buerre blanc. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Serve and garnish with freshly minced Italian parsley.

Any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram: @WildGameJack.