Butter Turkey

When it comes to turkey, few prepare a bird better than Tiffany Haugen, and if your springtime adventures have put poultry in the freezer, this recipe is as good as they get.

by Tiffany Haugen

When properly taken care of in the field and not overcooked, wild turkey is one of the best tasting, most tender, upland game birds there is, no matter if it’s a jake or an old tom. After taking a bird, get it field dressed and allow the meat to cool. Don’t toss the birds around as the meat easily bruises. Turkeys are big birds and retain heat for a long time, so get it in a cooler of ice or a refrigerator, as soon as possible after the kill.

At Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, the relatives devour the wild turkeys I cook, well ahead of the store-bought bird someone else brings. Even spring turkeys don’t last long in our house before they’re gobbled up. One of the great things about wild turkey meat is its mild taste, thus it easily takes on the flavors with which it’s cooked.

Butter Chicken is a popular curry throughout the world. Originating in Northern India, Butter Chicken can be a less complicated dish with fewer spices than some curries, and it adapts well to wild turkey. The added healthy fat from cashews makes this dish extra creamy. Canned coconut milk can be substituted for the cream if desired. Using a blender or food processor will make this a fast and easy meal.

For slow-cooked wild turkey legs and thighs to cook separately, blend all marinade and sauce ingredients together in a blender. Add everything to crock pot and cook on high 3-5 hours or until meat falls from the bone.

The Recipe

1 pound wild turkey breast


1/2 cup plain yogurt

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1” fresh ginger, minced

2 teaspoons turmeric

2 teaspoons garam masala

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4-1 teaspoon cayenne or Kashmiri chili pepper

The Sauce

3 tablespoons butter + 1 tablespoon

1 cup cashews

1 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup cream

2 teaspoons sugar, optional

1 teaspoon salt


Fresh cilantro for garnish

Cut turkey breast into bite-sized pieces. In a blender or food processor add yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, and pepper. Blend or pulse until marinade is smooth. Coat all turkey pieces with marinade, cover and refrigerate 3-12 hours. In a small bowl, cover cashews in water and soak, refrigerated, 3-12 hours

Remove marinated turkey and cashews from the refrigerator and drain water from cashews. In a blender or food processor add soaked cashews, tomato sauce, sugar and salt. Blend or pulse until sauce is smooth.

In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons butter on medium high heat. Remove turkey pieces from marinade and add to skillet. Brown turkey on all sides and remove from pan. Add another tablespoon of butter to the skillet and add remaining marinade. Once the marinade is bubbling, add blended cashew and tomato mixture. Bring sauce to a boil. Add the turkey to the sauce and reduce to medium-low heat. Simmer 4-6 minutes, adding cream right before serving. Add additional hot water to achieve desired sauce consistency. Serve over basmati rice with fresh cilantro.

Note: To order signed copies of Tiffany Haugen’s popular book, Cooking Game Birds, visit scotthaugen.com for this and other titles.

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