Quick Sautéed Turkey Bites with Butter and Herbs

A Taste of the Wild Recipe Featured Recipe

This recipe shared by Eileen Clarke, is one that she was first introduced to while visiting White Oak Plantation, when owner Robert Pitman demonstrated the art of crafting his famous sautéed turkey breast. In her cookbook, Eileen actually refers to the recipe as ‘Robert P’s Quick Sauted Turkey Breast’, and she said, “The butter makes it quite decadent, and may be the easiest recipe I’ve ever cooked–certainly one of the easiest to remember. If you don’t have fresh marjoram, improvise with basil, sage, oregano or tarragon. According to Robert Pittman, the important thing is to use only fresh herbs and real butter. No substituting margarine for this dish, please. And no dried parsley either!”

An additional note that Eileen shared towards using a wild bird in the recipe was, “If your turkey is a trophy gobbler, brine it first in 2 cups of cold water, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon brown sugar in the fridge 24 to 48 hours before cooking it.  Brown sugar tones down wild flavors while salt tenderizes. And no, a 48-hour brine will not turn wild birds to mush as with store-bought birds. Those are baby birds; the wild turkeys we hunt are adults.”



1 pound boned turkey breast, cut in bite sized pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram

1 tablespoon chopped chives

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley



  1. Dry the turkey bites with paper toweling, leave them wrapped for 10 minutes, then unwrap and season with the salt and white pepper.
  2. Melt the butter gently in the pan, over medium-high heat until it liquefies and starts to sizzle. Add the turkey chunks, marjoram, chives and parsley, and sauté the meat, stirring as it cooks to make sure all sides of the chunks get cooked, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Arrange on a platter over rice or egg noodles, and serve with fresh asparagus or as an appetizer all by itself.

Tips from the Kitchen:

Better sautéing means better flavor: It’s the Maillard reaction, otherwise known as the browning reaction. Browning meat properly creates a full, intense—good–flavor. The pan needs to be hot enough, not overcrowded (which lowers temperature), and the outer surface of the meat needs to be fairly dry.  Start by wrapping the meat pieces in paper towels (before cooking) for 5-10 minutes to dry them, and cook in batches so there’s ample space between each morsel. Start the pan on medium-high heat, and wait for the butter to sizzle before adding the meat.  Since butter has a low smoking point, soon after it sizzles smoke will rise off the surface of the pan.  Add the turkey and herbs right away or the butter will burn.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs are easy to grow in summer, and putting them in a south-facing window in the winter months doesn’t work in Montana where I live. But I learned something important last September. We had a very, very early Siberian Express hit us, so the evening before the temps dropped through the floor, my husband and I ran out to the garden, stuck a shovel in the ground on one side of each herb plant, ripped them from the ground, and stuck each in a large pot. Indoors we set them under the tomato starting lights we rely on each spring, and topped off the pots with planting soil and gave each plant a good dose of transplant rx and fertilizer. The rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram and parsley are thriving. The basil, is limping along, apparently resenting being ripped from its bed unceremoniously. Still. Even without the bratty basil, the fresh herbs under my grow light have brightened many a frigid winter dish.

Learn more about Chef Eileen Clarke – author of several cookbooks focused on processing and preparing your wild game.

Categories: Featured, Game Birds & Waterfowl

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