Contributors to this thread:
Turkey Legs and Thighs
Share your best recipes please, I haven't been a huge fan of the dark meat on turkey legs and thighs, but don't want to give up on them. A friend just gave me a pressure cooker so thinking about doing something with that. Any and all methods of preparing and cooking them is appreciated. Thanks
pressure cook and shred them, make rice in the broth, serve with the rice....mmmmmmmmm
i braise in stock in a dutch oven. usually best if i stick in the oven around 300 for 3-4 hours, or however long in takes to easily break down. younger bird maybe a bit less time, older one may be more. then do whatever type of recipe you would used with shredded meat. i like tacos or just pulled BBQ
Best meat on the turkey. Place both leg/thighs in a large crock pot and add a large can of Cream of Mushroom soup. Cook for 4-5 hr until the meat is about ready to fall off the bone. Use a fork and separate the meat from the bone and tendons. Add diced carrots, onions, celery, and quartered baby potatoes to the meat and soup stock. Place over rice or noodles. A meal fit for a king. Ps, also red wine. Paul
smoke them for bean soup......you won't be sorry
Place them in a crockpot. Add some chicken broth (or previously made turkey broth) to add moisture. Season however you like. Cook for approximately 8 hours or until meat begins to fall from bone. Separate bone and tendon from meat. Chop meat and use for tacos (similar to carnitas). I prefer to use heated soft corn shells then add cilantro, pico de gayo, fresh sliced avocado, and fresh squeezed lime juice.
I've done same as Paul. Crock pot is the key, something to make them fall apart then do your favourite thing with them. If you just use water, make sure to add some broth to keep it tasty. If you use mushroom soup, nothing else needed, serve over rice or potatoes.
I've found the legs impossible to eat. The thighs are a whole different story. We cook them right along with the breasts.
+1 for Paul, too. The crock pot will turn them into a tender feast. Years ago we only saved the breast. Wish I could go back and change that.
Brine them for a day, smoke, enjoy. Takes a little effort to separate the leg meat from the sinew but it comes apart easily after smoking.
This recipe blew away everything I've ever tried with legs. My 4 and 7 year old daughters even loved it.
I just had some for lunch. I brined them for 2 hours, 4 cups of water, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of kosher salt, a little garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper.
Then I put them in a crock pot with sodium free chicken bullion ( wife's idea ;) ), 5 cups of water, and a little salt. They cooked most of the day and when they were getting closer to being able to pull off the bone I added potatoes, corn, and carrots. Then let it cook until I could pull the meat off (maybe 2 or more 3 hours) and pulled the meat off, mixed it back in with the veggies and put it in the fridge.
Add some noodles and it is a great chunky turkey soup.
Got two birds worth of legs and thighs on the crock pot just like Paul described. Gonna be a feast tonight and yes, we have the wine!
I tried a couple times to cook up the legs and just never had any luck. But the thigh meat ... I like that better than the breast meat. Good stuff, sadly there isn't a lot of it on the bird, but every bit is worth the effort to remove.
Shot a skinny longbeard this past weekend. Live weight was 14 lbs, and full fan. Cleaned bird weighed 11.4 lbs. Very skinny. Decided to smoke the whole bird and then slow roast in the oven. Used my typical recipe for store bought turkeys: brine for 16 hours, coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Smoke for three hours. Wrap in two+ layers of tinfoil, and slow roast in open pan for one hour per pound at 170 degrees. Very tasty, but not as tender as store bought. Split the wings and thigh/legs and put in crockpot with one qt of chicken broth. Slow cooked all day. Deboned and added cooked rice, mixed vegies. Six more large meals from the wings & legs. Very little meat wasted.
I cut everything into into 1 inch strips or pieces then run through the tenderizer about 3 times. Cut strips into 1 inch chunks after tenderizing. I season some flour and dip pieces into flour, egg wash, back in the flour and then deep fry. Turkey nuggets!
On some cold, winter weekend I'll put legs and thighs in a big stock pot on the stove, with water, celery and onion and simmer about a football game and a half. (Shorter if it's a Cowboys game because the other team will be the only one scoring.) I remove the meat, dice it and start a batch of gumbo, using the broth for the gumbo stock. As others have said, very flavorful after you cook it long and low.
Ours came out very tender but two pieces were just ok. The two pieces were above the liquid. Leg meat came off with just a fork and tasty! MnRazorhead...i now feel the same way!
Using one of the braised shank recipes works very well for turk thighs and legs.
Thanks for the input guys, very much appreciated and great ideas. MNRazorhead, same here. Midwest, I remember a prior thread on deer shanks and making Osso Buco, which I need to try on my next deer instead of grinding. Sounds like low and slow is the consensus with different variations.
I de-bone/de-tendon everything I can get, then grind into burger. For every 4 lbs meat, 1 lb bacon. Season with whatever you like during second grind, patty and vacuum seal. I ended up with 32 pattied turkey burgers out of my first bird this spring. Grill, cover with swiss cheese on a good kaiser roll and enjoy.
Crock pot with a warm, low, and high setting, I put it on warm, cook the legs and thighs all day and seperate meat from tendons and bones afterwards and make turkey salad from it. Add celery, onion, walnuts, apples etc, however you like it. By far my favorite part of a turkey!
There was a recipe in traditional bowhunter magazine, I think last year, I tried that and it was out of this world. Everyone that I served it too thought it was fantastic.
bigdaddy, that sounds good. I believe you can just go online to their website and look it up. Always fun to try new recipes.
I agree with Paul@thefort. Best meat on the turkey. I will take any legs that other hunters do not want in my area. I trim the thigh and leg neat off best that I can (do not trim off the fat). I then dice the meat and make "turkey soup" :) Better then any chicken noodle soup that I have ever had (crock pot). A crowd favorite. Here is the recipe:
If you're breasting out your turkeys, you're missing some incredible meat. Put the legs and thighs into the crock pot as noted above - they're amazing. I'd also really recommend against skinning your birds. You can defeather them very quickly by dunking them in hot water - Google how to feather a chicken and there's an exact temp, I can't remember, and you dip them for 3 seconds at a time and eventually, the feathers fall right out and then you can cook your bird with the skin (which is the best part).
How long does it take to clean leaving the skin on a bird, X 100+ turkeys? Breast out the slabs off each side of the breast bone, Skin the legs down, pop the thighs out of socket...and go fishing....or get another turkey.
Use the meat in your favorite stew it really is good!
Thanks for the ideas guys!!!!!! I usually just bone it out and add to the grind, will try some of these out.
I'd trade any of you guys legs, thighs & wings for breasts! Lol.
For those that are calling the leg meat tough.........you need to cook it slower and longer. It will eventually fall off the bone and separate from the tendons.
As far as the breast meat goes, smoking is good, but the meat is really dry. I do them two ways. In both I remove as much of the silvery lining without wasting meat as I can then cut chunks or strips across the grain. For deep frying.........I soak the meat in buttermilk throughout the day then go straight from the buttermilk and roll in seasoned flour (I like Cajun seasoning). They can be pan fried in a 1/2" of oil or deep fried. I have to guard the nuggets from the kids so we have some to plate at the table. It's best eaten hot, but leftovers can be reheated.
For the grill.......I marinate in teriyaki throughout the day and grill. Myself and kids prefer the deep fry, but my wife likes the grilled better.
Last weekend I did this... It might be THE BEST wild game dish I have made yet. (at least according to the kids lol)
... This made a double batch BTW..... 2- 9x13 dishes
Crock Pot 4 whole rear quarters (legs / thighs) 1 LG onion diced 4 stalks celery sliced 2 cups sliced carrots diced garlic (much as ya like) S&P top with water and cooked on high for 24 hrs
At this point the meat was entirely off the bone, I cleaned out any unwanted bone and the like and coarse chopped up any bigger pieces. Reserve the stock
In a LG pot I added 3 or so cups of the stock back to the meat along with more garlic and onion / S&P 1 can cream of chicken 1 can cream of mushroom 2 lg cans Veg All ( the larger variety) 3 sm cans Veg All ( smaller variety) milk as needed to achieve desired consistency Oregano / dried chives
Cooked in the pot for 10-15 minutes to incorporate the flavors before pouring into 9x13 glass dish and topping with biscuits / pie crust / Etc and baking @350 for another 15 minutes.....
TRUST ME THIS IS A HOME RUN
I read of one where legs and thighs went into a crock pot with a large can of stewed tomatoes, chopped onion and a tablespoon of instant coffee(?). Don't know why on the coffee. Season to taste when cooked for sloppy joe sandwiches. I usually play with recipes. I'd consider trying to add some barbecue sauce and some chicken broth and cooking it. When it's done I'd remove the liquid add a some sherry and cook the liquid in the stove to reduce it down. Then add shredded meat.
Made turkey thigh meat stew using my usual venison recipe. Oh boy is that good! Now I know what to do with the other two left in the freezer.
When I first started killing turkeys, my mom and I would pluck them. Dunking them in water that was hot but less than boiling certainly helps. We never got the feathers to fall right off though. If there is a temperature that would easily make the feathers fall out that would be a good thing to know. The skin on a turkey is good.
Having said that, I almost always just breast them out. The amount of effort required to prepare such a small amount of meat (legs) isn't worth it to me.
Tacklebox, That looks GOOD! Actually, every dish above is damn good. I wish we could shoot more than one turkey a year up here in MN...
Turkey Leg Soup....my favorite soup.
Simmer leg/thigh(s) until they fall off the bone. 45-minutes (Jake) - 14 hours (old Tom). Remove bones & meat (save to put back in if desired). Strain soup to get out tiny bones parts & etc. Add chopped onions/carrots/celery, bay leaf, salt & pepper (if desired). Add chopped meat if desired. (Jake only for me.) Simmer until veggies are tender. Add noodles/dumplings of desired. (I may add/make dumplings from Shore Lunch with last 1/2 of big pot.)
Caution: Your down wind neighbors may show up.
We recently used an instant pot and made carnitas. Very good.
Instant pot = pressure cooker. Should work well for turk legs and thighs.
Find any good recipe for duck confit, and substitute turkey legs and thighs. Magnificent combo...works with pheasants, too.
good recipies guys, keep em coming
Breakfast today includes pan fried turkey heart and liver with a morel/onion cream sauce. Later the plan is to conquer the world.
wow....some people do actually eat eggs sunny side up. I always thought it was just for a pretty picture!
Hey Vids...used your turkey carnitas recipe and made some turkey tacos for lunch today with the meat. The crockpot slow cooking method made the leg and thigh meat tender and delicious...and easier to hunt for pellets since my tom was a shotgun kill. After browning up the shredded meat with honey and lime juice like your recipe describes we put it on corn tortillas with cheese, my wife's fresh homemade pico de gallo and salsa white sauce, avocado slices, and hot taco sauce. A masterpiece! Thanks for the recipe. Kevin
I love leg meat off of wild birds. I always save the legs from pheasants and even chukars. I brown them, throw them in a Dutch Oven and pour in a can of beer. IPAs are really good for this. Put the lid on and put it in the oven at 180 and leave it all day. Once the meat is separated you can use it for about anything you'd use chicken for, tacos, pot pie, enchiladas, soups, it's outstanding.
There's a dinner plate full of good meat on a breasted turkey, I've been pluckin' birds for some thirty five years. And,,,, if I know you are a "breaster", you wont be hunting on my land!! .....just sayin
Thanks for sharing all....
I put mine in the stock pot on the stove, Simmer for 36 hours., seasoned well. Best broth you can have! Then I shred the meat for turkey salad and use the broth for gumbo and soups.
Here's another suggestion, make Coq Au Vin with them. Just cook them longer and at a lower temperature. The red wine REALLY brings out the flavor in wild bird legs.
Hank Shaw's recipe from above, only i added a couple pineapple rings and gonna put just a bit of teriyaki/brown sugar mixture on when i brown the one side.... excited to see how it turns out!!
I figured I would follow up with this post from the spring. I decided to pressure cook some wild turkey legs and thighs the other night and just made a turkey pot pie to bring to Thanksgiving for my family. Photo still needs the top crust. Thanks again for all of the ideas and I still have a lot of the above suggestions to try. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!!!
Happy thanksgiving brother!!! Looks good, let us know how the ppl liked it!
For those of you who mentioned throwing it in a crockpot, last year I tried that and had the breast and legs sitting in a whiskey/bbq sauce for a day and then let it cook all day and the meat was drier than a bone. Was it the sauce that caused it to dry out or did I cook it for too long? Should you only cook it for a max of 4-5 hours? I think I did between 7-8 hours.
Bone them out and run them through a meat grinder. Then make meatballs with a little bread, egg, brown sugar and garlic salt. Then put them on the smoker. Gourmet.
I gave away my crock pot about 2 weeks ago. Been using an instant pot and it does everything a crock pot does except better. Large pieces of meat often end up dry as VogieMN says, but in the instant pot or a pressure cooker they don't dry out like that. It's been awesome. Everything you do instantly also has a gravy when you're done. I love it. I mean I only use it prob once a week, BBQ twice a week, and fry ground, eat fish and randoms the other days would be a usual proportion.
Vogie, my wife has beencooking chicken breast in the crockpot all day while at work. Get home, shred it down and use it in chicken pot pie, chicken broccoli Alfredo and i make chicken salad. It has been dry the last few times. I looked it up, and from what i read, lean meat cooked all day will lose its juices to the broth/water its cooking in. Best to crock pot really tough meats that are fatty or even better, lots of collagen. Thats what the article said anyways......
I just ordered an insta pot last night. Guess what for.....to cook up my turkeys legs/thighs from last spring. Funny timing on this one.....
Even funnier timing, Apauls, musta been posting at same time!!!
I brest out the bird. Take the legs, throw on the grill 30 minutes, let cool..use as a tire thumper..
If that how ur cookin em, thats bout what they r worth. If you never tried the hank shaw recipe for carnitas, you're missing out. Takes a little work, but its nice to use all of the bird....
I wouldn't crockpot the breast along with the legs/thighs. Just the legs and thighs. The breasts are made for deep fried turkey nuggets!
I can't help you with the crock pot Vogie, although we make chili, some stews and some chicken dishes with it when we know we have to come home, eat and go out for kids events or something else. However, the instant pot is incredible. Chicken even comes out better. I would always grind my venison shanks until I tried Osso Bucco in the instant pot.
I'm not a big fan of the dark meat on the turkey legs and thighs, so I typically shred them off the bone with a fork after they are done and use them in a sauce like a turkey pot pie as I posted in a prior thread. Wife and kids love it.
Thank you for all the feedback. SticknString, after that failure I did some research and I found that out as well that you shouldn't cook very lean meat in a crock pot all day.
Awesome info here. I too was one who discarded the legs and thighs. Not anymore. The crockpot technique made good meat for pot pie etc. That's why I read this site daily but very seldom post. You guys are a wealth of knowledge and you don't mind sharing . I appreciate !!!
Add 1 can cream of chicken soup along with a can of milk in the crock pot with your turkey legs and thighs. Cook all day and meat will be off the bones. Strain the leftover juices into a pot for gravy and add the turkey meat to the gravy. Eat over mashed potatoes, rice, or noodles. UNBELIEVABLY GOOD!! I threw all the legs away until I saw a similar recipe on here a couple years ago and will never throw another one away. The other day my son was telling me how excited he is for turkey season to get here so we can have turkey legs for dinner again!
Man, I hope I finally kill one this year...
Crock pot with barbecue sauce the best and easy.
Just resurrecting this thread since I just read again and made some bbq pulled turkey leg/thigh sliders inspired by some comments. Real simple. Cook legs/thighs in instant pot for 90 minutes with an onion and chicken broth. Meat falls off bone, remove bones, put in pan and add sauce, I used sweet baby rays. Fried up some onions and kids loved it. Want to try a sweet citrus sauce next time. Enjoy and stay safe!!!!
Looks delicious, tobywon kenobi!
I threw the thighs and legs of my wife’s bird from this spring in the crock pot with a package of wild rice soup mix and a couple of cans of cream of chicken soup. I couldn’t wait and had to sample it after about 4 hrs. It was delicious, but the meat was still a bit tough. I left it in another couple hours and that made all the difference in the world as far as the meat falling off the bone
Smother the plucked bird in mayo and flour with spices. Cook in a oven bag. Softens up the back, thighs and even old tom drumsticks
We get as much meat off as possible and grind them with some of the breast meat. Cindy has a recipe for Southwest turkey burgers with onion, green and Serrano peppers, etc. Made ahead of time and frozen makes a quick meal grilled with pepper jack cheese.
Smoked legs and thighs to be braised.
Smoked legs and thighs to be braised.
It was so good it vanished before I could take a picture .
It was so good it vanished before I could take a picture .
Braised meat in a cast iron pot is far and away better than cooking in a crock pot or slow cooker. It imparts a different taste / texture to the meat.
I smoked mine first before braising.
Below is a basic braising recipe from the pioneer woman.
Unbelievably delectable beef short ribs, slow cooked in wine and broth. Served over a bed of polenta, this is a seriously special dish!
8 whole Beef Short Ribs
Kosher Salt and Pepper To Taste
1/4 cup All-purpose Flour
6 pieces Pancetta, Diced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
3 whole Carrots, Diced
2 whole Shallots, Peeled And Finely Minced
2 cups Red Or White Wine
2 cups Beef Or Chicken Broth (enough To Almost Cover Ribs)
2 sprigs Thyme
2 sprigs Rosemary
Preparation Salt and pepper ribs, then dredge in flour. Set aside.
In a large dutch oven, cook pancetta over medium heat until complete crispy and all fat is rendered. Remove pancetta and set aside. Do not discard grease.
Add olive oil to pan with the pancetta grease, and raise heat to high. Brown ribs on all sides, about 45 seconds per side. Remove ribs and set aside. Turn heat to medium.
Add onions, carrots, and shallots to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape bottom of pan to release all the flavorful bits of glory. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes.
Add broth, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed. Add ribs to the liquid; they should be almost completely submerged. Add thyme and rosemary sprigs (whole) to the liquid.
Put on the lid and place into the oven. Cook at 350 for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 325 and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Ribs should be fork-tender and falling off the bone. Remove pan from oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes, lid on, before serving. At the last minute, skim fat off the top of the liquid. (Can also refrigerate mixture, then remove solid fat from the top.)
So for several years now I'll admit that I've been simply breasting out turkeys and leaving the rest for the yotes. Years of cooking whole birds and doing the same led to this. So this years bird, I took the drum sticks, onions, seasoning and a carton of broth and placed it all in a crockpot on low. Dinner time I pull the legs out, try them and yep right in the garbage. So tough they were inedible. Never again, however some canned chicken and bag of frozen noodles turned what was left in the crockpot into a yummy soup.
copperman, you didn't cook them long enough. 8 hrs is probably a minimum in the crock pot. You should be able to grab the leg bone, give it a twist and the meat falls off. Then the tendons will pull out with your fingers.
Perhaps not long enough but more importantly the temperature of your crock pot. I had a crock pot (Rival brand) which would not exceed 180*. Tough meats would never get tender...I gave it away and bought a regular Crock Pot brand. It simmers...what a difference that 30 odd degrees makes. When doing drumsticks and thighs the meat literally falls off the bone. I cook them in that 8 hour area or even a bit less.
Nice guys, I initially started this thread because I never made good use of the legs and thighs and I hated to waste them. I am not a huge fan of dark meat on the turkey, but try ways to use them so they are not wasted.
Copperman, definitely doesn't sound long enough in the crock pot and put it on high. I would seriously look into getting an instant pot (pressure cooker). Definitely a worthwhile investment and many uses in the kitchen, not just for game meat. You will not be sorry. In 90 minutes (probably can even go shorter time), that meat will be falling off the bone. You can then do whatever you want with it from there.
thanks, I try again on my next bird