Turkey
Wild Turkeys at the Goliad, Texas Ranch

Flautas are a well loved Tex-Mex entree made with a flour tortilla that is rolled up around a filling and deep fried. The filling varies from beef, chicken, frijotes and in this recipe, Wild Turkey share with us by native Texan Janell Matula.

Flautas and Taquitos  are very similar. The main difference is with a Taquito, you use corn tortilla, not flour like the Flauta. Additionally, Flautas are rolled longer and normally an entree where Taquitos are smaller and normally served as an appetizer.  Although, breakfast Taquitos break this rule and are flour tortilla filled with any number of fillings, egg, potato, beans, chorizo, Barbacoa and cheese.

Janell is an artist who uses different mediums from oils, acrylic and   water color when she creates her many different paintings seascapes, still life’s or Texas scenery. She not only enjoys taking her brush to the great outdoors, but is also an avid hunter.  Over one Thanksgiving holiday, she even discovers the art of cooking Wild Turkey Flautas.

At the family ranch in Goliad, Texas, Janell and children took some extra vacation days to enjoy quality time together before the remaining family would join them on Thanksgiving day.  Spending days exploring the 80 acres of various oak and mesquite trees, lush grasses and country side is always a pleasant escape from Corpus Christi, Texas where Janell resides.

One morning her son Cory, who was 13 years old at the time, got up before day break to check out the wild life on the ranch. Each year they spend time hunting deer and wild boar though this was going to be an unexpected hunting season. As Cory explored away from the cabin, he found a group of wild turkeys. Unlike the term flock, turkeys are referred to as rafter. The turkeys in a five acre clearing near the cabin where feeding as they moved through the grassy pasture. Cory, with excitement, quietly moved away from the area before running to the cabin entering where he cried out “Hurry.  Hurry, get the gun, there are tons of Turkeys outside,” states Janell.

Janell, who is very safety conscious, would not allow Cory to use a gun unsupervised and woken from Cory’s excitement.  She quickly slipped on her boots with her night clothes, grab the 12 gauge shot-gun and shells and the two headed outside to the porch. She handed Cory the gun and shells as he loaded the weapon and quietly approached the rafter of turkeys in the clearing shaded by a few mesquite trees.

Janell watched Cory sneak towards them. He took aim with a deep breath. As he slowly exhaled, he squeezed the trigger firing into the rafter beading his sight on a large gobbler. The turkeys startled from the exploding sound of the shot gun quickly disappeared through the nearby Mesquite trees. Cory moved through the tall grass finding the stifle turkey.  As he carried it back towards his mom, Janell could see that the gobbler was near as big as her son.

Unknowing of Cory’s hunt, his dad brought a fresh store bought Turkey with him for the Thanksgiving holiday, now giving Janell one more for a feasted meal.  Janell use the store bought Turkey for the dinner using a deep fried turkey recipe, and used the Wild Turkey to make the Flautas.  “I couldn’t keep up with the demands as I fried batch after batch,” states Janell. “The family came back for seconds, then thirds”

CLEANING THE BIRD:

First thing with all feather game is to clean the bird. Unlike live birds that will continue flapping around after the head is removed, wild game hunted merely just need to have you cut and remove the head and bleed for a few minutes.  Tie the feet an allow to hang, neck down. If you desire to have skinless, bird, you merely cut and remove all the skin and feathers will come with it, but if you desire to leave the skin on, you need to scald the bird to easily remove most feathers.

Scald the bird. As the bird hangs, take a large pot which will allow the whole bird to fit into. Fill 2/3 full with water and bring the temperature to 145-150 (F) degrees. Place the bird into the pot completely immersed in the heated water to roughly 145 degrees F. Leave it for 45 seconds.  Remove it and immediately remove the feathers.  They should be fairly easy to pluck out. Filoplumes are hair like small feathers that are not easily pluck. Leave these for the next step. Feathers along the wing tips can be hard to pull out even after scalding. Using a pair of pliers will make it easier to grip and remove.

Remove hair feathers.  Using any flame source, outdoor camp fire, torch, gas grill or stove, simply singe the filophume hair feathers off. Be careful to not burn the skin or cook the bird. Once done, you are ready to butcher. 
Butchering:  Place bird on a cutting block with back down laying flat. Remove the feet by cutting between the knee joints with a sharp knife. Cut the flaps of skin between the legs and beside the anus.  Open up the body cavity without cutting any internal organs. Remove gland beneath the anus by making a V-cut.  Insert a hand into the body cavity of the bird. Scoop out all organs and air sacs (birds don’t have lungs). Throw everything away except the heart, liver, and gizzard if you plan to use them for something else such as giblet gravy. Scoop out the trachea and esophagus that is still embedded in the neck. This should allow your bird to be ready for cooking whole and can be baked, fried or cut into smaller pieces though I prefer to cook whole and deboned left-overs.  


Janell’s Flautas

Ingredients: 

2 lbs Turkey
1 can whole tomatoes
Butter
Vegetable oil 
Salt
Pepper
Garlic Powder/or minced 
Cumin
Greek Seasoning: Caverdars all purpose: 
Flour tortillas
Cook turkey: After turkey is cooked, remove approximately 2 pounds of meat to be shredded.  Mix shredded meat with whole tomatoes. Add 1 tablespoon Greek seasoning, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 large tablespoon of butter together in a mixing bowl.
In a large skillet, melt one tablespoon butter, then add the ingredients. Cook down on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes or until ingredients become a thick sauce.  
With a deep fryer skillet, pour oil to cover 2.5 to 3 inches of oil just deep enough to allow the rolled tortilla to be cover as you fry into the tasty flautas.  Heat at 350 (f) degrees. 
Place one tortilla on flat surface. Add two tablespoons of the thick turkey sauce into the tortilla center and spread towards edge. Roll the tortilla to a tight flute and use a toothpick to hold together in the long rolled shape. This recipe should allow for 24 tortillas to be filled and fried into flautas. 
Once all of the tortillas are filled with the toothpicks holding each roll, you are ready to fry. Take one large plate and place several paper towels over the plate to absorb excess oil after cooking. 

Place several rolled tortillas into the fryer for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Ensure the tortillas are evenly cooked on all sides. Once golden, remove and place on plate to serve, adding several more into the skillet until all are cooked.  Should any sauce filling escape while frying, just scoop out as you fry the wraps so as not to burn.  Once all the flautas have been cooked, you can serve with sour cream, cheese dip, guacamole or salsa if you like, or just as they are. As Janell said, “Good luck keeping up to the demands for more.” 

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