Let's talk the proper way to cook your bird. Let’s look at a delicious BBQ smoked turkey Breast recipe and see that when cooked right wild turkey is not dry but moist and flavorful.
Most turkey hunters breast out their birds, I have many recipes that are geared towards using the whole bird as well and legs and thighs, but don’t have many geared towards using the whole breast. This recipe is simple, and when done properly yields turkey that will be gone as soon as it hits the table.
There is this misconception that Wild Turkey and game birds have to be cooked to 160 minimum. This idea of cooking temperatures comes from cooking domesticated and store-bought birds that contain Salmonella bacteria. Salmonella lives in the intestines of birds, animals, and humans. Most human infections are caused by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by feces.
Salmonella is found 90% of the time in store-bought birds because of the processing and handling of them during the butchering and packaging process.
As hunters if we are handling our birds correctly Salmonella contamination is at 1-2%. This means that if we are cooking out birds to at least 148 degrees and that temp can held for 3 minutes that this bacteria is 99.99% destroyed.
So, when cooking wild turkey, I always say the magic number is 150 degrees. At this temp bacterium is killed off and the moister within your bird still remains. Once 135 degrees in met in meat the moister itself began to leave the meat, this is unless it has a fat. Since wild turkey is virtually fat free the meat will begin to firm and loose moister at 135. This is why 150 is the prime temp for wild turkey. You’ve killed the bacteria, cooked it until done and still retain the moister.
Okay let’s get into one of my favorite ways to cook wild game is on my Traeger, but if you don’t have a Traeger of other pellet style smoked you can always use a grill, oven, or any other smoker or BBQ.
Brining is another way to add flavor and moister to meat, even though this is not required it does help. If you want a quick BBQ brine read below!
BBQ'd Wild Turkey Breast
1 wild turkey breast, skin on or off
FFTP BBQ rub, *see below
1 cup of BBQ sauce, homemade or your favorite
- Preheat smoker, grill or pellet smoker to 180 degrees, I recommend using an oak, nut or fruit wood, pellets or chips. This will add just enough smoke flavor without overpowering the meat
- Rinse and pat dry the turkey breasts, removing outside moister will help the seasoning to stick without clumping and falling off during cooking
- Season turkey breast, you can be heavy handed with the seasoning. You want to create that seasoned bark on the breasts. If you have skin on the breast, score with large X’s this will help the fat to render and skin not get rubbery.
- Place breast on preheated cooking method skin down if you have skin on. At this point baste top with BBQ sauce, close lid and cook 8-10 minutes.
- Flip breast and increase heat to 375 degrees.
- Baste meat once more with BBQ sauce, close lid and don’t open again until turkey reaches 150 degrees.
- Remove turkey and tent with tinfoil allowing it to rest for 10 minutes. This will help the meat retain any and all moister before slicing.
- Start slicing at the point of the breast this or thick. Of you want to use the meat for lunch meat place in fridge until chilled 1-3 hours. Remove and slice thin with meat slicer or sharp knife.
- Meat will keep for 6-7 days in fridge for lunch meat.
- As always Enjoy.
- 2 tbsp Garlic powder
- 2 tbsp Onions, dried
- 2 tbsp Black pepper
- 2 tbsp Brown sugar
- 1 tbsp Cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp Chili powder
- 1/4 cup Paprika
- 1 tbsp Salt
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- 2 tbsp Cumin, ground
- 3 Bay leaves
- 3 Celery stalks
- 1 tbsp Garlic powder
- 1 Onion, Small
- 1 tbsp Oregano, Dried
- 1 tbsp Thyme, Dried
- 1 tbsp Chili powder
- 1 cups Salt
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1 gal Water