It is easy for me to become preoccupied with elaborate gourmet dishes, to experiment with flavors and cooking techniques to make that wild-game dish ever more perfect. It is the trained cook in me that can’t help but want to see what I can conjure up in the kitchen with a little imagination and a smörgåsbord of ingredients.
Yet it is in the moments where I taste the magic of the simplest of dishes that remind me that simple can sometimes be the most intoxicating.
An Austrian woman served me this dish once after a day of bird hunting. It was cold and wet outside and the dining room was lavish with silver trays floating about the room and crystal glasses brimming with port. Amidst all of this lavishness was a simple cutlet, pounded until thin, coated in breading and quickly fried. She served it with lemon wedges and a side of ruby-colored lingonberry sauce, which was tart with just enough sweetness.
Her dish was called “schnitzel,” and not surprising, is an Austrian dish. I loved it for its lightness—crispy, thin, meaty, salty—that went well with just about anything you drizzled on top of it. I imagined what else I would add to it if the lingonberry weren’t available—a cranberry relish, my favorite chutney, a thick gravy, mashed potatoes or on a sandwich with tomato sauce.
But then I realized it was nice enough as it was. Its beauty was its simplicity—the purest ingredients allowed to speak for themselves.
Since spring is drawing near, and with it turkey season, this dish is coming into its season. It is light for spring’s warmer weather, but also versatile. So if you don’t bring home a wild turkey, it will work with just about any other meat you can imagine. Simple and versatile—those are the best recipes and often the most satisfying things to eat.
“Wild Turkey Schnitzel”
Serves 6 to 8
1 turkey breast, cut thinly into slices, on the bias against the grain
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup panko
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup grape seed oil (or vegetable oil)
Salt and pepper
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Cranberry relish or lingonberry sauce (optional)
1. Set three plates and one wide bowl on the counter. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and lay one turkey cutlet on it. Lay a second sheet of plastic over the turkey and pound it gently until it is thin and even. Set the cutlet on the first plate. Pound the remaining cutlets and add to the first plate.
2. Place the flour, oregano, garlic powder and red pepper flakes on the second plate and mix. Place the egg in the bowl and beat it lightly with a fork. On the third plate, combine the bread crumbs and paprika.
3. Heat the grape seed oil on medium heat in a skillet until a sprinkle of flour into the oil sizzles. Lay a turkey cutlet first into the flour mixture, then the egg wash, then the bread crumbs and place directly in the hot oil. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side and transfer to a rack set over a sheet tray or paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to preserve the crispness. Serve immediately with a wedge of lemon and cranberry relish or lingonberry sauce.
*Also try this recipe with wild boar, antlered game, upland game birds, rabbit, duck.
Find all of Georgia's wild-game recipes for AmericanHunter.org in Georgia's Kitchen.