Wild Game for Christmas Dinner: 3 Recipes You Should Try

Put your Christmas menu off the charts with these succulent wild-game hors d’oeuvres.

The aspect I love most about Christmas is that it’s a time to reflect upon and celebrate the birth of Jesus with loved ones. I’m not into gifts, Santa, snowmen or roasting chestnuts over an open fire. I’m more into the togetherness of friends and family, and the time we spend together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Sure, we spend lots of quality time together throughout the entire year, but Christmas is special and set apart, and we honor that.

Part of our celebration involves a finger-food feast to be enjoyed Christmas Eve after a 5 o’clock church service. Since I was a child, my mother has always gone all out for this meal. We can’t just have ham and turkey. Nope. We make a dozen or more hors d’oeuvres plus desserts. There isn’t a main dish, so it’s possible to try a little of everything — a win-win proposition.

Though everyone in my family hunts, I’m always in charge of supplying one or two wild-game hors d’oeuvres; a duty I take great pride in. The results show on Christmas Eve when my folks wear ‘em out.

Have you thought about preparing a wild-game dish for your family’s Christmas meal? I highly encourage it, and following are some of my favorite ways to prepare wild game for a feast to be remembered.

Turkey Tenders

Wild-turkey breast is often described as dry, chewy and tough. This recipe debunks that myth.

Ingredients

1 wild-turkey breast 1 cup flour 1 can lite beer Dash of salt Oil (canola or peanut) Dipping sauce of choice

turkey-tenders

A heap of turkey tenders has been deep-fried and is ready to warm in the oven for a few minutes before being served. 

Instructions

Trim fat/tendons from turkey breast, then slice breast into ½-inch cubes, cutting across the meat grain to ensure tenderness. Set aside.

Heat at least 2 inches of oil to 350°F in kettle or deep fryer. Temperature will drop to 300-325°F once turkey cubes are added.

Pour flour into medium bowl and add salt to preference. Slowly pour beer over flour while mixing to create a batter. When batter consistency is reached, set remaining beer aside should you need to make a second round of batter.

Dunk turkey cubes into batter, then transfer into kettle/deep fryer. Fry the battered cubes until golden brown, then set in a large bowl lined with paper towel. Once all cubes have been battered and deep fried, transfer them to a large baking sheet and pop them into the oven at 400°F for a couple minutes to ensure all are warm.

Serve with dipping sauces of choice (we like bleu cheese and BBQ). If everyone agrees on a specific sauce, you can shake the cubes and sauce in a large container. Welcome to the Buffalo Wild Wings of the wild-game world!

turkey-tender-seasoned

If your family/guests all agree on a dipping sauce, you can add the hot turkey tenders to a large container, adding the sauce and shaking vigorously. 

Bacon-Wrapped Venison Bites

You think your mouth is watering now? Wait until these babies are on your plate!

Ingredients

½ venison loin 1 cup salt 1 gal. water 1 pound bacon Toothpicks Dipping sauces

venison-bites

A Christmas staple at the McDougal household, bacon-wrapped venison bites are every bit as delicious as they sound. 

Instructions

Prepare the loin by trimming away fat and silver skin. Create a salt/water soak and add loin. Place in refrigerator and allow to brine 4-6 hours.

Remove loin from brine and rinse with cool tap water. Pat dry.

Cut the loin into quarters the long way, then cut across the quarters to create bite-sized cubes. Count your cubes and submerge as many toothpicks in water.

Next, cut bacon slices in half. Wrap one bacon half around each venison cube. Slide a toothpick through the center of each cube to hold bacon in place.

Grill or broil until done. Catch drippings in a clean tray or pan. Place all bites into a crockpot with drippings to keep warm and moist, then serve with dipping sauces.

Tempura Turkey

Tempura is a light, almost see-through batter. Chinese and Japanese restaurants often serve tempura shrimp and chicken. Wild-turkey breast is superb when tempura-battered and fried.

Ingredients

1 wild-turkey breast 1 cup rice flour 1 egg yolk ½ cup water 1 egg white (beaten until stiff) Salt and pepper Zucchini, green beans and mushrooms Oil

winter-turkey-blind-setup

McDougal annually hunts turkeys in December after most of his deer hunting is finished. A well-placed arrow took down this December hen (upper right). 

Instructions

Trim fat/tendons from turkey breast, then slice breast into ½-inch cubes, cutting across the meat grain to ensure tenderness. Set aside.

Heat oil in large kettle or deep fryer to 375-400°F.

Combine rice flour, egg yolk and beaten egg white in medium mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper to preference. Prepare veggies in bite-sized pieces.

Lightly coat turkey cubes and veggies in tempura batter, then deep fry until golden. Taste for saltiness, dashing on more, if needed.

winter-hen-turkey-kill

If you want to put your Christmas menu off the charts, incorporate wild game into the mix. 

I’m not a professional cook and rarely measure out ingredients — it’s often a little bit of this and a little bit of that — so you may wish to tweak these recipes to your liking. I’m a passionate bowhunter who kills to eat, and it just wouldn’t be Christmas in the McDougal household without wild-game hors d’oeuvres.

Give these recipes a shot this Christmas. I’m sure your guests will be wowed. Merry Christmas!

Darron McDougal

Darron McDougal

Darron McDougal is a full-time freelance outdoor writer/editor who lives in Antigo, WI with his bride, Becca. He's hunted in 12 states and successfully taken elk, bear, hogs, turkeys, pronghorn, whitetails, and mule deer, most with archery equipment on DIY hunts. The McDougals enjoy all things hunting and shooting. They believe in God and love to travel.
Darron McDougal

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