Maple Turkey w/ Midnight Forest Bourbon Whiskey

I read over a dozen recipes for wild turkey before setting out to cook my first one. The sentiments I found in some forums as to the dark meat being “not worth” preparing did not deter me, but instead offered a full-on challenge. Well, challenge accepted! This method of dry brining, smoking and pressure cooking worked well while tenderizing the meat and infusing full flavor. Now that BHA's Midnight Forest Bourbon Whiskey made by Spotted Bear Spirits is a regular staple in my cabinet, it is also my go-to for this recipe.

Maple Turkey w/ Midnight Forest Bourbon Whiskey


Yield: 6 servings


  • 3ish pounds of wild turkey dark meat (legs, thighs, etc)
  • 3T olive oil
  • 1T kosher salt
  • 1/2T sugar
  • 1/2 cup mixture of herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary)
  • 1/3 cups Midnight Forest Bourbon Whiskey
  • 3/4 cups pure maple syrup, divided
  • 1T brown sugar
  • 8T melted butter

Instructions (Day 1): 

  1. With skin on, dry the meat extremely well
  2. Rub all over with olive oil to create a surface that seasonings will stick to
  3. Rub salt, sugar and herbs onto (and into!) the turkey skin
  4. Place on a rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet to allow air to circulate around the meat
  5. Put in fridge overnight, uncovered

Instructions (Day 2): 

*Note: this may sound odd, but swapping the pressure cooking and smoking steps is sort of interchangeable and a-okay. If you smoke before pressure cooking, finish the meat with the glaze under a broiler or back on the Traeger to set the caramelization.

  1. Add whiskey, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 1/2 cup water to the pressure cooker
  2. Insert a trivet or steamer basket to the pressure cooker and place all turkey pieces inside
  3. Close and set cooker for 30 minutes on high according to the manufacturer's specifications 
  4. Pour yourself a finger or two of Midnight Forest Bourbon Whiskey and read the shot of inspiration on the back penned by the late, great Jim Posewitz
  5. When the cooker finishes, let it naturally release and set Traeger to 225 or smoke setting 
  6. Make the smoke glaze: combine remaining maple syrup, brown sugar and melted butter
  7. Slather 1/4 of the glaze over the meat and smoke for 2 hours, adding more glaze every 30 minutes
  8. Plate while hot or eat it right off the grill!


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About Molly VandeVoort

Montana BHA Flathead Board Member (Whitefish/Columbia Falls/Kalispell)