It’s easy to rule out wild turkey legs as too tough for the table. But to the contrary, the thighs and drummies on our favorite game birds are loaded with tasty dark meat that should never be wasted.
Turkeys spend the majority of their life standing, and as a turkey hunter you know gregarious gobblers and hens typically prefer running to flying, so it’s true the legs are lean and mean. However, you’ll be amazed to find a pile of rich meat in the legs if you properly handle them.
There are a number of ways to prepare turkey legs. Regardless of the recipe, some type of slow-cooking process is key to breaking down tendons and connective tissues while maintaining moisture in the meat. This recipe starts with a basic braising process and ends with a flavorful spinach-artichoke dip that you’ve likely only experienced at a restaurant.
- 2 whole wild turkey legs
- 14-ounce can chopped (drained) artichoke hearts
- 4 ounces fresh spinach leaves
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 32 ounces chicken broth
- 1 can beer (pilsner or lager)
- 1 diced bell pepper
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Ground cumin
- Ground coriander
- Ground black pepper
- Kosher salt
- Peanut oil
- Fresh minced herbs
- Sliced apples
- Coat turkey legs with a rub containing the following: 1 tbsp. garlic powder, 1 tbsp. onion powder, 1 tbsp. ground cumin, 1 tbsp. ground black pepper, 2 tbsp. Kosher salt.
- Brown seasoned turkey legs in light bath of peanut oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large non-stick pot. Halve turkey legs at joint between thigh and drumstick if easier to fit in pot.
- Remove pot from heat and set aside turkey legs on separate pan. Scrape brown bits from pot and transfer turkey legs back into pot. Submerge browned turkey legs halfway in chicken broth and beer. Save excess chicken broth to add during slow-cooking process
- Cover pot and cook turkey legs in oven at 300 degrees for 3-4 hours. Check periodically to ensure sufficient moisture is contained in pot; add more chicken broth if necessary
- In a separate medium pot, fry diced bell pepper in peanut oil and then add artichoke hearts, spinach leaves and cream cheese. Mix evenly and season lightly to taste with garlic powder, ground coriander, ground black pepper, and Kosher salt
- When turkey legs are fork tender, remove from oven and let cool. While still warm to the touch, hand pull meat from bones and discard undesirable textures (tendons, etc.). This is also a good time to pick apart meat and remove any stray pellets from your shotgun pattern.
- Combine pulled turkey leg meat with creamy spinach-artichoke concoction and mix evenly.
- Serve as a dip with fancy crackers or baguette crisps, or as sliders with small toasted brioche buns. Garnish with fresh minced herbs (rosemary and thyme) and sliced red apples.