Grilled Turkey: Another White MeatWhen it comes to food, turkey is not just another version of chicken-despite both types of meat being poultry. One benefit with turkey meat is that it tends to be bigger than what you’d get from chicken, meaning you get more meat from the same cuts. Hence why you see grilled turkey legs being sold at places like Disney World and Renaissance festivals, rather than chicken legs. When properly cooked, turkey can truly excel in flavor, but any sort of quick cooking, like the kind done in a stir fry, is likely to turn out poorly. Texturally speaking, the relatively larger size of a turkey means that individual cuts may have a tad more stringiness to them, hence why slow-cooking it tends to yield better results. In terms of flavor, turkey tends to contain proportionately more dark meat than chicken, meaning that it has a comparatively deeper and richer taste.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Grilled Turkey LegsTurkey is just like any dish with chicken-there are dozens of ways to go about the same basic recipe. Provided below are several recipes for turkey legs, including at least one turkey leg brine recipe, as well as advice on seasoning and how to marinate turkey legs.
Recipe #1: BBQ Turkey Legs ala Slow CookerIngredients
- Turkey legs, one per person.
- Water, 4 quarts
- Salt, kosher or sea, 1 cup
- Sugar, brown, 1/4 cup
- Worcestershire sauce
- Your favorite BBQ sauce
- Vinegar, red, wine
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, black
- Olive oil
- Prepare a brine by pouring the water, kosher salt and brown sugar into a vessel large enough for the number of legs you plan to cook. Make sure that the salt and sugar have completely dissolved before adding the legs. Adjust the ingredients based on how many legs you are fixing-shoot for just enough to fully cover the drumsticks. Feel free to use something like a bowl or a plate in order to keep the legs below the water level of the brine.
- Refrigerate the legs for anywhere between 4 and 24 hours. Remove them from the fridge 1 hour before you want to cook them, in order to bring them up to room temperature.
- Remove the legs from the brine and pat them dry.
- Right before you cook them, drizzle olive oil over each leg and rub in a mixture of salt and black pepper.
- Prepare your grill for indirect heating. Feel free to add some smoking wood for extra aroma.
- Prepare a basting mix of honey, vinegar, BBQ sauce and Worcestershire sauce and combine them all until it forms an even consistency. You can do this up to a day ahead of when you plan to cook the legs, storing it in the fridge until it is time to use it.
- Begin grilling the legs with the grill’s lid as closed as you can have it. Begin basting with the mix from the previous step on a frequent, regular basis so that the legs become covered in a rich, dark glaze of caramelization.
- Turn the legs every so often, continuing to baste. Make sure that you keep the lid closed between basting sessions in order to keep as much heat and smoke trapped within as possible.
- While individual cooking times can vary, most legs only need 20-30 minutes of indirect heat, at a moderate temperature, to be done. Cooking on high temperatures may finish the legs quicker, but also increases the risk of burning the legs. Check for doneness by either using a meat thermometer or making a cut into one leg. The good news is that brining mitigates most of the risk of overcooking while also keeping the legs nice and moist.
- Once the legs are done, take them off the grill and onto a serving dish. Cover with foil and allow them to rest for 10-15 minutes.
Recipe #2: Spritely Turkey Legs
- Soda, lemon-lime flavor, 2 liters
- Sugar, 2 tbsp
- Hot sauce, your favorite, 2 tbsp
- Flakes, red pepper, crushed, 1 tbsp
- Pepper, black, 1 tbsp
- Onion, sweet, sliced, 1
- Turkey legs, 4
- Honey, 2 tbsp
- Steak seasoning, 1 tbsp
- Preheat your grill for high temperature cooking and make sure to lightly oil the grate.
- Fill a large pot with the soda, sugar, hot sauce, pepper, pepper flakes and the onion slices. Then add the turkey legs and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Cook the mixture for 30-45 minutes, just until the legs reach an internal temperature of 180°F.
- Take the onion slices out of the pot and lay them over your readied grill. Place the legs over the onions and then treat the legs with honey and steak seasoning.
- Cook the legs, giving them a single turn, for 20 minutes; just long enough for a crispy brown crust to form.
Recipe #3: Basic Brined Legs
- Water, 1 gallon
- Salt, kosher, 1 cup
- Sugar, brown, 1 cup
- Turkey legs, 8
- Add everything but the turkey legs to a large vessel. Stir until the sugar and salt have fully dissolved.
- Submerge the turkey legs entirely within the brine. Cover and store in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours.
- Drain the turkey from the brine and make sure to thoroughly rinse it under cool water. Finish the prep work by patting them dry with paper towels.
- Ignite a fire within your grill, keeping one side coal-less. When the coals turn gray and the temperature has reached medium level, it is time to cook the legs.
- Spread out the legs in your grill so that they cover a single layer, positioned directly over the coals. Make sure to give the legs a turn every 5 minutes over the span of 10-15 minutes; just long enough for the skin to start crisping and even show initial signs of charring.
- Transfer the legs over to the cool half of the grill, cover the grill and let the turkey continue cooking for 40-45 minutes, remembering to turn the legs every so often. You want to hit an internal temperature of 165°F, reading from the thickest portion of the leg.
- Take the legs off the grill, giving them a few minutes to rest, then serve.
Turkey Legs Recipe #4 with Condiments
- Drumsticks, turkey, 4
- Oil, olive, 2 tbsp
- Soy sauce, 2 tbsp
- Honey, 1/2 cup
- Sugar, brown, 1/4 cup
- Ketchup, 1/2 cup
- Juice, lemon, freshly squeezed, 1 tbsp
- Salt, kosher
- Pepper, black
- Optional: Pepper, cayenne, 1/2 tsp
- Lightly oil the grill and preheat it to medium-high.
- Give each turkey leg a light coating of oil, salt and pepper, then place them all over the grill.
- Cook the legs for 4-5 minutes per side, just until some slight charring appears.
- Either transfer the legs to an upper cooling rack or keep cooking them over indirect heat between 45 to 60 minutes. Remember to turn the legs every so often so that they evenly crisp.
- Combine all of the other ingredients into a small pot and stir them until they evenly combine. Cook the mixture just until it begins to bubble. Stir the mixture well and set it off to one side.
- For the final 15 minutes of cooking, baste the legs with the homemade sauce you concocted during the previous step, making sure that the burner below the legs is off; this sauce is quite attractive to flames and you want to avoid this as much as possible.
- While cooking times will vary by the size of the drumsticks and your grill’s temperature, you should be looking for clear-running juice or an internal temperature of 165°F. Once the legs reach 165°F, take them off the grill.
- Give the legs one final brush of sauce and serve.