In another wonderful recipe out of the moment, Jack Hennessy in “Braising the Wild” gives us “Pan-Seared Wild Turkey Tenderloins and Fried Morels.”
I like how Hennessy keeps his recipes timely to what is going on in the outdoors.
“Braising the Wild” is part of the expanded two-page outdoors section in the expanded Sports Saturday wrapper of the Sun-Times.
I find that wrapper delightfully entertaining and informative. OK, and I really like having two pages to work with.
Here is “Pan-Seared Wild Turkey Tenderloins and Fried Morels.”
Pan-Seared Wild Turkey Tenderloins and Fried Morels
I am not a trophy hunter. There are no deer mounts or full fans hanging on my wall. I once saved the hooks and beard from the largest gobbler I shot, but I honestly couldn’t tell you where they are in my garage (if they’re there at all).
I am a meat hunter. I respect a good trophy, but care more about how many meals an animal will provide. For this spring thus far, our family bagged only one jake amid two mornings hunting. Because I love the tenderloins fresh off a wild bird, I went to work planning a meal but soon realized I needed a supplement. Good thing my morel spot was still flourishing that weekend.
The tenderloins on a wild turkey are tucked behind the main breasts, close to the keel bone. You almost don’t even need a knife to separate them. There is a thin tendon running through them. Some hunters remove this, though I never do. The tenderloins on a large tom are about the size of a pheasant breast, maybe larger, though obviously smaller on a jake. I recommend brining tenderloins separate from breasts, as they can grow salty quicker because they are a smaller cut of bird.
I recommend a simple spice mix here, but you can use whatever you like, though I’d suggest not using a mix with salt if you brine your tenderloins. For cleaning morels, I often soak them in a salt-water solution then rinse and let sit on a napkin-cover plate for an hour before cooking.
Ingredients (serves 1-2):
2 wild turkey tenderloins, approximately 4-6 ounces each
Handful of morels, approximately 6-8 ounces
Brine: 1 gallon cold water, 1/2 cup non-iodized salt
Suggested spices: light dusting of even mix of garlic powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, onion powder
- Brines tenderloins, separated from breasts, for 3-4 hours, thoroughly rinse afterward and let dry uncovered in fridge.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet to medium-high and add very thin layer of oil.
- Sear tenderloins on both sides, cooking thoroughly, then remove and cover with aluminum foil and set aside.
- In same skillet, add a little more oil then morels. Lightly dust with kosher salt and black pepper. Rotate for even sear. Remove when thoroughly cooked but not mushy.
- Plate together. Perhaps add a pat of butter atop. Enjoy.