Smoked turkey with ramp pesto

by Andrew Rochon | May 12, 2023
smoked turkey with ramp pesto

This is my most-used, extremely versatile preparation for wild turkey breasts. Serve sliced on top of a spring salad, on a sandwich or panini, or fanned on top of creamy pasta.


Serves 2

  • 1 large wild turkey breast
  • 1 ⁄2 cup smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp mustard powder
  • 1.5 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp cayenne
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp ground pepper


  • 2 L water
  • 3⁄4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 ⁄2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 4 cloves garlic

Ramp pesto:

  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 ⁄4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 ⁄4 cup Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 3 cups chopped wild ramp greens
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3 ⁄4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


1. For the brine, heat all ingredients over medium-high heat until the salt and sugar dissolve. Cool down in refrigerator. Once cool, place turkey breast in the brine, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

2. For spice rub, combine all ingredients and mix them well.

3. Rub turkey breast all over until evenly coated.

4. Turn smoker to 225 ̊F and smoke for 2–2.5 hours 5. For pesto, add garlic, walnuts, Grana Padano, ramp greens, and basil into a blender, while blending on high, slowly add the olive oil until mixture become smooth.

6. Season with salt and pepper and then coat the smoked turkey breast generously with pesto.

7. Slice and serve.

Andrew Rochon is OOD’s food editor. You can follow more of his culinary adventures on Instagram: @wilderness_chef

Originally published in the May 2022 issue of Ontario OUT of DOORS.

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