It being turkey season again, our oldest came to visit and shot herself a turkey. She cleaned the tom turkey, saved the tail for herself, and put some feathers in bags for Grandpa Truman and a couple of friends. So now there’s feathers in a few bags on the dryer, down feathers that escape the bag as the dryer shakes. She’s going to salt them, and freeze them, and I don’t know what else. I have a friend who microwaves them to kill feather eating mites (she said it’s the keratin in the feathers the mites eat.)
Feathers are great, but it’s the meat I value, and I’m happy to report our huntress doesn’t mind sharing. She decided to make open faced turkey sandwiches with the legs.
Now wild turkey drumsticks are very different from grocery store turkey drumsticks. They are tough; they have at least half a dozen (if I were the exaggerating sort, I’d say there were 20) cartilage sinews in each leg running length wise of the drumstick that have the consistency of the plastic in a plastic gallon milk jug, and the meat itself is very tough. It’s taken years to figure out how to make these legs palatable. But our oldest did it.
When she announced she was making open faced turkey sandwiches for dinner tomorrow, I readied myself for a chewy dinner and began plotting on how to finagle extra mashed potatoes and a bigger side of veggies. It was unnecessary.
She put the two turkey drumsticks in the crock pot, covered them with water, and cooked them overnight and up until it was time to prep for dinner. So they cooked for between 18 to 20 hours submerged in water that became a weak broth. (I added it to my perpetual broth and let it simmer down to be used for beef barley soup at a later date.)
For dinner the day after the hunt, we ate wild turkey leg open faced sandwiches served with mashed potatoes, gravy from chicken stock previously frozen, canned green beans, and stuffing I made from a few whole grain (plus flax and sunflower seeds) rolls that were too good to feed to the chickens. It was a mighty fine meal.
Hot Wild Turkey Drumstick Open Faced Sandwiches
2-4 wild turkey drumsitcks 4-8 slices of bread
Large crockpot with water to fill Gravy to cover
Put the drumsticks in the crockpot, cover with water, turn on high for 12-24 hours. Remove the drumstick from the crockpot and allow to cool so they can be handled. When they are cool enough remove the meat from the bone then remove the long thin plastic-like cartilages from the meat. There will be many. When the meat is free of the cartilages put it in a bowl to be reheated just before serving. The water covering the turkey legs will be to week to make a good gravy. Set it aside for another purpose. Make the gravy (and mashed potatoes).
(good broth makes good gravy)
6 Tablespoons butter or oil 6 Tablespoons flour 3 cups good broth
In a sauce pan large enough to accommodate the finished produce add the flour and butter or oil. Heat the pan over a medium hot burner melting the butter (or oil) so the flour can be mixed into it then let it heat up until it starts to bubble a bit and can be well mixed. When the flour and butter (or oil) is hot and well mixed (but not burned) start adding the broth a little at a time mixing all the while. If the broth is hot to begin with the gravy will thicken faster. Add the broth in increments until all is added or it is the thickness that’s preferred (less broth makes for a thicker gravy) Reheat the meat after the gravy is made and assemble the sandwiches.
Assemble the Hot Wild Turkey Drumstick Sandwich
Lay one piece of bread on the plate then cover the bread with the reheated turkey drumstick meat. The meat will be stringy, so it is okay to snip it with scissors as it is laid on the bread. When the bread is covered, pour the gravy over the meat. Serve with mashed potatoes.
Note: Used to be most diners served Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches and Hot Turkey Sandwiches. They were so prevalent the ‘open faced’ description wasn’t necessary. Growing up, I preferred the Hot Roast Beef. These Hot Wild Turkey Drumstick Sandwiches taste more like the Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches I remember from back-when.
For my readers who are interested in some bedtime story reading, the four booklets (Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter Editions) compiled from the last few years of this column can be found at the Goldendale Chamber of Commerce.