April presents a pleasant dilemma for Carolina Sportsmen. Yep, Carolina Sportsmen have choices to make during April; will they go fishing, are they still chasing feral pigs or varmints, or will they ply the countryside in search of a longbeard tom turkey? There are no wrong answers.
Thankfully Daylight Savings Time arrived during March and relocated an hour of sunlight to later in the day, allowing a little more time outdoors
Wild turkeys are a game management success story in both Carolinas, and a growing number of sportsmen dedicate a chunk of their time in April to chasing them. They say it’s a labor of love, but it comes really close to being an addiction.
Due to the popularity of hunting turkeys in April, this month’s recipe offers a unique way to enjoy them. Turkeys and tacos are rarely used in the same sentence and this isn’t turkey tacos, but a way to use some taco seasoning and dressings in an alternative way to prepare and serve wild turkey.
Turkey taco loaf
This unique and simple recipe can be made with meat from a turkey’s legs, wings, back, neck and other meat many folks don’t utilize. It can also be made using leftovers and is a great way to use the meat that isn’t so pretty after a turkey moved just as the trigger was squeezed or one that required a second shot at a moving target. If you’re chopping it up, no one cares if it was perfectly formed before being cooked.
With this recipe, I discovered that an Alaskan ulu knife is the ideal tool for chopping the turkey. I use a fairly large bowl and the curved blade of the ulu fits it perfectly.
The option to make this with turkey that was previously cooked and left over or with fresh turkey gives it a lot of flexibility.
I use the full package of taco seasoning and it’s a good flavor for me. If you like your tacos milder, you may want to use a little less of the taco seasoning. I use low sodium taco seasoning and it works well. The abundance of salt in the tortilla chips more than makes up for the lower sodium in the seasoning.
Crushing the tortilla chips is easy. Stop when they’re down to roughly the size of panko bread crumbs. I break them into smaller pieces and put the pieces into a heavy-duty zip lock bag, then use a rolling pin to crush them into smaller pieces. If you don’t have a rolling pin, a jelly or pickle jar or a can of soup will do just fine. I like to use the thicker, round tortilla chips, but if you have a favorite, try it with them first. It takes a lot of tortilla chips to make a cup and a quarter after being crushed.
2 Cups chopped turkey
1/2 Cup chopped onion
1 chopped Jalapeno
1 Can small green chilies
1 TBL chopped pimientos
2/3 Cup Half and Half
1 1/4 Cup crushed tortilla chips
1/2 TSP smoked paprika
1 Package taco seasoning
2 TBL vegetable oil
Non-stick cooking spray
Salt and pepper (to taste)
- Chop the turkey a little finer than bite size pieces.
- Chop the onion, pimiento and the jalapeno.
- Crush the tortilla chips.
- When starting from scratch, sauté the turkey in the oil until it is starting to brown before adding the onion, jalapeno and taco seasoning, then follow the directions on the taco seasoning package.
4A. If beginning with previously cooked turkey, sauté the onion, and jalapeno in the oil for a couple of minutes before adding the turkey.
4B. Once the turkey is warm, stir in the taco seasoning following the directions on the package.
- In a medium to large bowl, beat the eggs and stir in the Half and Half.
- Drain the chilies.
- Stir in the chilies, pimientos, tortilla chips, paprika, salt, pepper and the turkey, onion and jalapeno mixture. Mix this well.
- Spray a loaf pan with the cooking spray and spoon in the turkey mixture.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes. Do not allow the top to scorch.
- Remove from oven and allow to “rest” for 5 minutes.
- Slide a knife around the edges, place a plate on top of the pan and turn the pan over to remove the loaf.
- Turn the loaf back upright.
- Cut medium thick slices from the loaf.
- Sprinkle each slice liberally with cheese, add some salsa and a dollop of sour cream and serve it with tortilla chips.
This goes well with refried beans and rice. I like salads and often begin with a lettuce wedge or a green salad. Just about any dessert goes well with this. April evenings are typically pretty mild and should be an excellent time to sit on the deck or patio after dinner and make some homemade ice cream to finish the meal.
Tortilla chips have a lot of salt and you won’t need to add much. I don’t add any. However, I like pepper and have to remember that others will be eating this also to keep from overindulging.
Don’t be afraid to adjust an ingredient or two to suit your personal tastes. Get it tuned in and you’ll find times to fix it. Enjoy!