As part of our Armed Forces Initiative we'll be featuring exclusive recipes inspired by military service throughout the year. These recipes have been developed by Justin Townsend, a BHA Field To Table contributor, editor-in-cheif of Harvesting Nature and a Deck Watch Officer in the United States Coast Guard. Our Armed Forces Initiative strives to ensure that active duty and veteran military personnel continue selfless service and enjoy the camaraderie of likeminded individuals committed to the mission of protecting our public lands and waters, and who support the ethical fair chase of wildlife. Learn more, here.
Text and Photos By Justin Townsend
Last week we celebrated the birthday of the United States Coast Guard, which is where I humbly serve. We have been a sea going service since 1790 – the founding of the Revenue Cutter Service. Since then, our cutters (ships) have patrolled the US territorial seas and abroad fighting for and protecting our citizens and others around the world.
The one thing a sailor looks forward to at sea is good food, and this recipe is just that, delicious and comforting. On cutters, the midnight watch gets to have a special meal prepared for them because they usually sleep through breakfast. Chicken Cordon Bleu – more commonly known as “Hamsters” (named for their brown, round appearance) – are a crew favorite throughout the fleet. I used some turkey, instead of chicken, and prosciutto, instead of ham, for this quick midnight snack. Semper Paratus!
Wild Turkey Cordon Bleu, aka Hamsters
- 1-2 wild turkey breasts
- Dijon mustard
- Ground black pepper
- 6 pieces of prosciutto
- 3 pieces of sliced Swiss cheese
- Garlic powder
- 1 egg, whisked
- 2 cups panko
- 2 Tbsp melted butter (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut the turkey breast lengthwise into 1 ½ in. cutlets. Lay out a piece of plastic wrap on the cutting board and place a cutlet flat on the plastic. place another plastic wrap sheet on top of the cutlet. Leave room around for the meat to expand. Use the meat mallet to flatten the cutlet to approximately ¼-inch thick.
- Remove the top piece of plastic wrap and set aside.
- Brush the top of the cutlet with the Dijon mustard and season with the ground black pepper.
- Place two pieces of prosciutto on top of the cutlet. Cut a slice of cheese in half and place each half on top of the prosciutto. Roll the cutlet like a pinwheel to create a little meat mount. Try to tuck in the edges, so the cheese doesn’t melt out in cooking. Place two toothpicks or skewers through the meat to hold it together.
- Season the meat mound with salt and garlic powder.
- Pour the flour and panko into two separate bowls. Roll the meat roll in the flour first then roll in the whisked egg, and finally in the panko.
- Set this roll aside and repeat with the others.
- Once all the meat has been rolled, place the rolls on a baking dish and place in the oven.
- Cook for 30-40 minutes or until the internal temp reaches 165.
- If you have a broiler, brush the hamsters with the melted butter and place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until nicely browned.