Nothing satisfies turkey cravings like a couple of tasty smoked turkey legs and an ice cold drink! When I buy my Thanksgiving turkey, I always grab some turkey legs too. And if the store doesn't have any in stock, I'll ask if the butcher can order some.
Smoked drumsticks can be served at the same time as the whole turkey or cooked earlier, so there's something good to munch on while the turkey smokes.
The following brine recipe will lightly cure four large turkey drumsticks or eight small ones. The legs from tom turkeys can weigh up to 24 ounces each. Hen legs weight about half as much.
Prep the legs before brining. Rinse them well and trim off any loose bits of skin or meat.
Combine the Tender Quick®, salt, sugar, spices and water in a large bowl, mixing until completely dissolved. Put the brine in the refrigerator to cool. It needs to be in the 40 to 35 degree range before the legs go in.
Brining can be done in a single container that'll fit in the fridge, a bucket or other brining container, or a couple of plastic freezer bags. Leave the brining turkey legs in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
After brining, remove them from the brine, rinse well and drain. Dry them off with paper towels to ready them for the dry rub.
Seasoning the legs with dry rub is optional. Try some with and some without and find out which you like better.
(makes about 3/4 cup)
Season the legs with the dry rub, one teaspoon per small leg or two teaspoons on each big 'un. Smoke them at 250 to 275 degrees, using a light flavored smoker wood.
Apple, pear, or cherry are good choices for a mellow smokey flavor. Don't over smoke these. A hint of smoke flavor is enough.
Figure on four to six hours in the smoker. The smaller hen legs will take less time than jumbo tom legs. Shoot for a target done temperature of about 180 degrees.
You want these to be fall-apart tender. The more connective tissue that melts, the more luscious these become.
Remove them when done and let them rest and cool for half an hour before serving. If any are left over, you can shred the meat for making turkey leg sandwiches.
These freeze well. Wrap them tightly in a couple layers of foil, use no plastic wrap. To reheat a turkey leg,
just toss the foil wrapped package into the oven set at 325 degrees for
an hour or so, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
Originally Published - January 6, 2006
Nothing satisfies the hunger like a couple of smoked turkey legs and an ice cold drink. Whenever I buy the turkey, I also grab a half dozen legs to keep the big bird company as it smokes.
The legs go in the cooler of brine right along with the turkey. They don't need nearly the length of brining time as a turkey does, though.
Four to six hours is about right, depending on the size of the legs and the intensity of saltiness you desire. I remove the legs and refrigerate them in a freezer bag until it's time to smoke.
If you're just making smoked turkey legs, you'll need one gallon of brine for every six or eight legs, depending upon their size.
Here's a recipe I've used with great success.
Rinse and drain the turkey legs. Add the remaining ingredients to a large pan and bring to a boil. Take off heat, cover, and allow to cool to room temperature. Pour the brine into your brining container and place it in the fridge to cool. The brine needs to be between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit in order to safely and effectively brine the drumsticks.
Drop the legs into the brine, and soak them for four
to six hours. Remove them, rinse well, and drain. Dry them off with
paper towels to ready them for the wet rub.
Rub this mixture onto the turkey legs, and allow them to rest in it for an hour or so. Put them into the smoker at 225 degrees Fahrenheit, using a light flavored wood. Apple, pear, or cherry are good choices for a mellow smokey flavor.