Hickory Cider Glazed Wild Turkey
Yield: 8-10 servings
Hickory cider syrup is best made using a clean percolator. The use of a percolator is important because it runs the cider through the bark at a hot, but not boiling, temperature. If you boil hickory bark, the tannins will release from the wood fibers and turn the juice bitter.
1 gallon apple cider
2 quarts hickory bark, broken into small pieces
2 quarts sugar
Salt and blended pepper
1 wild turkey breast
Add cold cider to the percolator and the bark pieces to the filter. Turn on the percolator and run a complete cycle. Remove the liquids and remove the filter chamber of bark. Keep the liquids and bark separate and cool in refrigerator.
Once cooled, set the percolator back up. Add the hickory bark back to the filter and run the liquids through it again. Repeat this process 5 to 10 times. After the last run of the percolator, strain the liquids—the finer the strain, the clearer the resulting syrup.
Once strained, mix the sugar into the hickory cider and bring it to a near boil. Cool the hickory cider simple syrup and store in the refrigerator. If stored in an airtight container, the syrup can last for several months. The syrup can crystalize, but a quick heat through in the microwave will dissolve any crystals.
Season the raw, trimmed turkey breast with salt and pepper. Place turkey and hickory cider syrup in a Ziploc bag making sure to remove all air. Set in the refrigerator to marinate for 12 to 48 hours, turning at least four times to thoroughly coat.
Remove turkey breast from marinade and cut with the meat grain into 2-inch wide strips. Preheat grill to 500˚F, making sure to create a cool zone for slower grilling.
Grill strips for 3 to 4 minutes on all four sides. If the turkey hasn’t thoroughly cooked, remove to a cooler section of the grill until the internal temperature has reached 145˚F. Once the turkey is thoroughly cooked, remove it from direct heat to rest. Once rested, slice thinly against the grain. Serve with your favorite sides.
Tips of the Trade:
The bark of a shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) is very distinctive and recognizable. They prefer to live in the floodplains of the Midwest. The bark can be easily collected, and it can often be found on the ground (under the canopy), or by wiggling loose pieces until you find ones that are ready to fall off. Before use, wash bark well, making sure to remove any moss or dirt.