I went to the local grocery store with my wife on Friday afternoon to pick up some chicken breasts and ran across something that I hadn't seen in a long time - turkey legs! Every time I think of turkey legs, it brings back memories of Disney World's smoked turkey legs at Frontierland. Now, since I'm in possession of an MES, I had to take home a couple of packs to experiment with. Friday evening, I put the six legs in a brine and let them sit in the refrigerator until Saturday. I had wanted to use a cure or TQ, but after striking out at three different grocery stores, I realized that my only option would be to order some via the internet. I did order some TQ that evening on the internet, but I'll have to wait until my next smoking project to experiment with it.
Here are the turkey legs sitting in the brine. It's a standard brine that I mixed up, but I added a little more brown sugar than I usually do this time around.
Before removing the turkey legs from the brine, I thought about how I was going to smoke these big drumsticks, so I decided to do three batches with two legs per batch. My reasoning is that I'm still experimenting with the MES, so I wanted to try a bunch of different things to see what effects, whether positive or negative, these things would have on the finished meal. The other thing I wanted to try was to keep the water pan dry and to use crushed charcoal mixed in with my wood chips, all while kicking up the MES to 275-degrees, versus the 225-degrees that I would normally use for something like this. I decided to divide my three batches like this (The Triple "S"):
With the smoke recipe, I added no rub and just smoked with a mix of apple and cherry chips. With the sweet recipe, I mixed up some EVOO, brown sugar and a few other spices and used that as a rub. With the spicy recipe, I mixed up a dry rub with paprika, cayenne and chipotle as the foundation, then added a few more spices.
Here are the turkey legs with the sweet rub on them sitting in the MES.
I smoked each batch individually and pulled out the first turkey leg at 165-degrees IT and the second one at 190-degrees IT. Since I like a crispy skin, each batch was finished in the oven for roughly 10 minutes at 400-degrees in the convection roast setting. The only change I made to this was on the sweet turkey legs, which I basted with a 50/50 mix of margarine and a hickory-molasses BBQ sauce, in order to add further to the sweetness.
Here are the finished smoked turkey legs.
Here are the finished sweet turkey legs.
Here are the finished spicy turkey legs.
After performing my taste test on them, I really couldn't tell the difference in tenderness between the ones I pulled out at 165-degrees IT and the ones I pulled out at 190-degrees IT. I don't know if this has to do with the fact that I finished them off in the oven or not, but they seemed to be equally tender.
Also, it's my opinion that the addition of the crushed charcoal (Kingsford Competition Briquets - one briquet per wood chip load) added to the overall flavor. In fact, this is the only time I've used charcoal in the wood tray and I ended up with a dark film on the viewing glass, which tells me that something out of the ordinary was going on in the smoking process this time.
After my taste test, my wife, kids, niece and nephew devoured the rest, so I think it's safe to say that the three recipes came out pretty darned good!
Please enjoy the pics!