May 09, 2011
Recipe: Braised Wild Turkey Legs
By David Draper
Some folks, myself included for many years, fall into the breast-man category, in that they breast their turkeys and throw the rest of the carcass away. Now I’m not here to lecture you about wasting meat or to get all sanctimonious about not honoring the animal by eating every last inch of it. However, I do suggest getting into the habit of pulling the legs from your turkey because, truthfully, there is a lot of good and tasty meat there that you’re missing out on. And it doesn’t take all that long to do, especially if you skin them out. (Though I’d humbly suggest you pluck when you’ve got the time.)
Wild turkey legs are tough and sinewy, so you want to take your time, cooking them low, slow, and wet in a simple braise. The beauty of this is it’s really as easy as putting it in the oven and walking away for a few hours, although, like anything, the more time you spend at the start, the better the final product will be. By browning them first, you develop a richer flavor, then just add some liquid such as water, wine, stock, or like I did recently, milk; cover and let simmer for a few hours. Try it once and you’ll never let a pair of turkey legs get away again.
Mushroom Milk Braised Turkey Leg
-One turkey leg
-1 tbs. canola oil
-1 medium onion, diced
-2 celery stalks, diced
-2 carrots, diced
-2 cups sliced mushrooms (morels if you got them)
-4 cups milk
-Salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Brown turkey leg in oil, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
Remove turkey leg and add a bit of oil, if needed.
Turn burner down to medium heat.
Add garlic, onion, celery, and carrots. Cook until onion softens 3 to 5 minutes.
Throw in a healthy pinch of salt, along with the mushrooms. Cook briefly.
Add milk and return turkey legs to pot, along with any accumulated juices. Turn a few times to coat.
Cover and transfer to oven. Let cook for 2 to 3 hours, flipping turkey leg halfway through.
When done, remove turkey leg from pot and shred meat from the bone using two forks.
Strain vegetables, reserving milk. (Alternately, you could puree the mix with an immersion blender.)
Return milk to pot and reduce over medium heat. If necessary, thicken with a paste of 1 tablespoon game stock and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. If it’s too thick, add stock until you get the desired consistency.
Serve shredded turkey legs with mashed potatoes or rice, passing gravy at the table.