June 29, 2008

Wild Canada

When asked to describe Canadian cuisine I always struggle to come up with an exact definition. Instead of a particular style of cooking I find that Canada has certain ingredients that are distinct but can be used in many different ways. I think of the obvious things like maple syrup and back bacon, (aka Canadian bacon) but I also think of things like smoked salmon, venison, wild rice, (which is actually not a rice but a grass) mustard, (did you know Canada grows 90% of the world’s mustard?) morels, wild berries, fiddleheads, ice wine and wild turkey. From that short list I think it’s evident that Canadian cuisine is really made of natural resources rather than cooking techniques or particular dishes, (although I suppose you could argue for certain things like poutine and Nanaimo bars).

Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict is hosting Mmmm Canada to celebrate the foods that make up this great country and is asking for submissions of savoury foods that taste like Canada. There’s also a sweet version of this event which is being hosted by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess for Sugar High Friday, (which I had high hopes of participating in as well, but it’s just not going to happen. Remember how I used to be a Daring Baker? I think they’re kicking me out for lack of participation…).

For my submission I’ve prepared Hunter’s Wild Turkey which is a riff on Hunter’s Chicken. I’ve also paired it with wild rice, to make it extra Canadian. Ideally all of the ingredients would have come from my backyard, but I can only make such a claim for the wild turkey. Dad, (pictured here with his catch) got his turkey hunting license this spring after sitting through what I can only assume was a thoroughly engrossing afternoon, (snore) on the rules and regulations of turkey hunting. He then set out into the vast yonder that is the back yard and returned not too long afterwards with dinner! Many dinners in fact… wild turkeys are not little. He butchered it himself and cut it into appropriate dinner sizes before freezing it, ready to pull out later. I wasn’t home when the actual turkey catching happened so he made sure to save some for me. And it’s a good thing he did because wild turkey is tasty! Some of you are probably wondering if it’s really any different than the turkey you have for Thanksgiving and I would say yes, it is. Wild turkeys are, as their name suggests, wild, and that means they do a lot of running around which results in more muscle building than the average bear, (or turkey). The meat is therefore initially not as tender, but like any tough cut of meat, it can be turned into something delicious with the help of a long bath in the oven, (you know, braising). Gobble gobble!

Hunter’s Wild Turkey

1 ½ cup chopped shiitake mushrooms

2 T olive oil

1 T butter

Wild turkey pieces, (for this dish I used a breast and thigh)

1 large onion, diced

1 14oz can cherry tomatoes with juice

2/3 cup red wine

1 garlic clove

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp smoky paprika

Salt and pepper

2 carrots, cut into batons

Chicken stock, as needed

Preheat oven to 375F. Heat the oil and butter in a flameproof casserole dish, (dutch oven) and sauté turkey over medium heat until browned. Remove turkey and add onions and mushrooms and cook until soft, (around 5 min). Add the tomatoes and juice, wine, garlic and herbs and spices. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add the turkey back in, cover the pot and put it in the oven. Since wild turkey does a lot of running around and whatnot the meat is much tougher than regular turkey or chicken and must therefore be simmered for a long time to become tender. I cooked this one for about 3 hours, checking on it every now and then and adding chicken stock as needed as the liquid evaporated. When the turkey is done it should be tender and falling off the bone. Near the end of cooking, add in the carrots and cook until just soft. Serve with wild rice.

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Manggy said...

I have to confess that I'm absolutely clueless about Candian cuisine, and my head is filled with nothing but visions of pools of maple syrup :P But that turkey dish looks really good, with all the tomato-ey juices enveloping the meat!

eliza said...

i've never tasted wild turkey before, but judging from your dish, i'd try some!

joanne at frutto della passione said...

Looks great, I haven't had wild turkey in ages but I always prefered it. Going to stock up on the wild rice when I'm in Canada this summer - yipee!

jasmine said...

Every once in a while I hear of a wild tukey sighting down here (along with all the wild deer that follow the train tracks into our downtown). Haven't had wild turkey (yet) but I can just imagine the flavour.

Thanks so much for participating!


Mike of Mike's Table said...

I'm pretty clueless about Canadian cuisine as well (outside of tourtiere), and now that I think about it, I'd be hard-pressed to describe "American" cuisine as well. The turkey you cooked looks great!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Wild turkey is abundant here in Rhode Island -- but I have to admit that I couldn't kill one or even let someone kill one on my land. I have eaten it in local restaurants, though, and it really does have a much different taste than those Butterball turkeys you see in the supermarkets.

Peabody said...

This is an excellent choice for Canada...though I really want someone to do Kraft Diner.

LyB said...

Canadian cuisine is so hard to describe. You've done a great job with this dish! And the fact that your dad hunted the turkey himself makes it even more special!

Elle said...

Wow, that looks delicious! Never had wild turkey. I've seen some, though, hehe.

Gabi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabi said...

That looks so delicious. I hope you don't leave the DBs- you're how I found out about them and joined myself. :)
I know the busy thing though and I'm sure school doesn't help with the schedule!
Take care xx

P.S. Happy Canada Day!

Y said...

You shoulda started your recipe with, "First, catch your turkey.."! :D

test said...

I'm also in the category of never having tasted wild turkey. You make it look delicious.

Dragon said...

I'm also in the category of never having tasted wild turkey. You make it look delicious.

Kevin said...

That turkey sounds tasty and cooking a freshly caught turkey sounds like fun.

Parker said...

Wild turkey, sounds like a lot of work, but likely well worth it. Happy Canada Day!

skrockodile (sabra) said...

Yum! That looks so good - really rich and juicy!

Bellini Valli said...

I have eaten bear, moose, venison, partridge, quail..but not wild turkey. I would love this dish especially with the wild rice!!