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Wild Game Cooking

BBQ Turkey Legs Recipe – Barbecued Wild Turkey Thighs

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Slow smoked BBQ turkey legs are a great way to eat that part of the bird, whether it’s a wild turkey or farmed. Here’s how to go about getting the most out of these underrated cuts.

Mostly when I talk about BBQ turkey legs I am referring to the thighs, but the drumsticks benefit from this process, too.

The reason is because the thighs only have the one bone in them, and none of those crazy tendons and ligaments that the drumsticks have — and those will never break down, especially on the barbecue.

What follows here are tips and tricks on cooking better BBQ turkey legs, and on how to use them.

First, separate them. Cut the drumstick from the thigh. This will matter a lot in the final product, because generally speaking, you will sit down to eat the thighs, but use the drumsticks in another recipe where they are slow simmer until the meat falls off the bone.

Doing this gets around those nasty ligaments. More on this in a moment.

Brine Thy Bird

It’s important to brine your BBQ turkey legs because this will keep them juicier as they cook. Because you’ll likely cook the drumsticks a second time in a soup or somesuch, it’s less important for them. But it’s vital with the thighs.

My normal brine is 1/4 cup kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal), to 1 quart of water. Dissolve the salt in the water and submerge the thighs (and legs if you want) in the brine in the refrigerator overnight. When you’re ready to cook, just rins and pat dry.

BBQ turkey legs on the grill.

BBQ Turkey Legs Slowly

Slow is key here. You want your smoker or grill cool, like 200F to 225F. It will take time, so do this on a day off or a weekend. I’ve had old gobblers take 6 hours to get tender.

Here’s the thing: You can go one of two routes. You can cook your bbq turkey legs just until they’re done, with an internal temperature of about 160F, or you can fully barbecue them like a pork shoulder, which will take the meat close to 200F.

I choose the first route with jakes and farmed birds, the second with old toms.

For the drumsticks, if you want to actually eat them right off the barbecue, you will need to go the long, slow route, and you’ll still have to eat around the tendons and such.

Smoke and Gear

I do a lot of smoking on a Traeger, but any grill or smoker that will hold low temperatures is fine. If you’re using a gas grill, fire up one element and cook the turkey legs on the other side, grill cover down.

Soaking some wood chips, then setting them on an open piece of foil directly over the gas element will give you a bit of smoke flavor on a gas or charcoal grill.

Wood choice is up to you. I really like oak, maple, hickory or fruit woods. But it also depends on your sauce. In the maple bourbon sauce below, any of the aforementioned woods would be great. But in the picture above, I used a Chinese char siu sauce, and in that case oak is my preferred choice.

If you are going with a Southwest or Mexican sauce, mesquite is the way to go.

About those Drumsticks

Chances are you’ll have super tough drumsticks. That’s OK if you plan for it. Eat the thighs at dinner, then the next morning, use the drumsticks to make any of these recipes, where you simmer the drums slow and low in water or broth

If you liked this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below; I’d love to hear how everything went. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture and tag me at huntgathercook.

  • If you are brining your turkey legs, dissolve the salt in the water and submerge the turkey in this overnight, or at least 4 hours. Rinse and pat dry.

  • Get your grill ready as described above. Coat the turkey thighs in the vegetable oil. Lay them skin side up on the cooler side of of the grill. Cover and cook until the meat reaches about 160°F, flipping every 30 minutes or so to paint with the maple-bourbon BBQ sauce. For the first 30 minutes, let the turkey cook without the sauce while you make it.

  • Once the turkey is on the grill, make the sauce by sauteing the grated onion in the butter for a few minutes. You don’t want the onion to brown, but you do want it to cook enough to lose that raw onion smell and flavor. This should take 5 minutes or so on medium heat.

  • Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Boil this down by 1/3. Adjust for heat and salt. If you want, puree the sauce in the blender. I prefer to puree my sauce because it will be thicker that way. Return it to the stove top over very low heat. Stir from time to time.

  • When the turkey is done, shift it to the hot side of the grill, skin side down, for a few minutes to caramelize the sauce. Paint with a little more BBQ sauce right when you serve.

Wood choice is up to you, but oak and fruit woods are perfect here. Only use mesquite if you’re using a Mexican or Southwest style sauce. 

Calories: 482kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 226mg | Potassium: 551mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 39g | Vitamin A: 433IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Source link: by Hank Shaw at

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Wild Game Cooking

Sopa de Lima Recipe – Authentic Sopa de Lima Soup

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After I got my first-ever chachalacas in Texas, I went looking for a recipe that would highlight these amazing chicken-like birds: Classic sopa de lima from the Yucatan fit the bill.

Sopa de lima is essentially a hybrid between chicken soup and tortilla soup, spiked with the zest and juice of limas, which are themselves a hybrid of a citron and a lime. Yes, real deal sopa de lima is not a lime soup, but limes are a good substitute.

A bowl of sopa de lima
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

It can be very hard to find real limas. My advice is to use the smaller key limes if you can, and if not, a mix of Meyer lemons and regular limes is another good choice. Failing that, just use a regular lime.

You will almost always see sopa de lima as a chicken soup, but I happened to have a rare alternative: chachalaca. Wha? You heard me, chachalaca. It’s a cousin of a chicken that is native to the Yucatan, so I am guessing that somewhere, someone has made sopa de lima as a chachalaca recipe.

I chose sopa de lima because you can really taste the bird in this recipe, as opposed to some dish where the meat is covered up in chiles. The best way to make this soup is to cook a whole bird gently in water, vegetables and some herbs, then pull the meat off the bones, strain the stock and make the soup from there.

You can make things a lot faster by using shredded leftover chicken (or any other white meat) and pre-made chicken broth. But you will notice the difference, so if you have time, it’s better from scratch.

My recipe for sopa de lima is an amalgam of one I found in David Sterling’s excellent book Yucatán: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition and another from a Spanish language cookbook called La Cocina Familiar en el Estado de Yucatan.

Once made, this soup keeps for a few days in the fridge, but if you want to freeze it, leave out the garnishes and add them when you thaw and reheat it.

I cook quite a lot of Yucatecan food, so if you like this recipe, you might want to try my rendition of cochinita pibil, poc chuc, which is grilled pork, dzik, which is a shredded venison salad, a stew called ajiaco, or a braised Yucatecan turkey dish I like to make with turkey thighs.

If you liked this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below; I’d love to hear how everything went. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture and tag me at huntgathercook.


  • 3 pounds white meat, chicken, grouse, quail, turkey, etc.
  • 1 quart chicken or other light stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, Mexican if possible
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns, cracked
  • 8 allspice berries, or 1/4 teaspoon ground
  • 8 whole cloves, or 1/4 teaspoon ground
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped


  • Either put the chicken into a large soup pot whole, or cut it into pieces. Your choice. Add the remaining soup base ingredients plus enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring this to a simmer and cook gently until the meat is tender, anywhere from 30 minutes for quail to 3 hours for an old rooster or turkey legs.

  • Remove the bird and strip the meat from the bones. Reserve the meat and discard the bones — unless you have lots of time, in which case return the bones to the pot and keep cooking for another hour. Whenever you are ready, strain the soup base into a large bowl through a strainer lined with a paper towel. Discard the solids and reserve the broth.


  • Heat the chicken fat or olive oil in a clean pot over medium heat. Add the onions and stir to coat with the oil. Cook until soft and translucent, but not browned, about 5 minutes. After about 3 minutes of cooking, add the diced poblano or bell pepper.

  • When the onions are soft, add the garlic and habanero, if using. Let this cook for a minute or two, then add the shredded meat, the tomatoes and the broth. Bring this to a simmer and add salt to taste. Let it all cook for 20 minutes, then add the lime zest and juice. Turn off the heat, and serve the soup with the tortilla chips and cilantro.

NOTE: This will take a lot less time if you use leftover chicken and pre-made chicken broth. 

Calories: 341kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 140mg | Potassium: 589mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 571IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Source link: by Hank Shaw at

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Wild Game Cooking

Pozole Verde Recipe – Pork Pozole Verde

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Pozole exists in a galaxy of varieties throughout Central and Northern Mexico, and, like many dishes there, mimics the flag’s colors of red, white and green. This is my rendition of pozole verde, green pozole.

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

If you are not familiar with pozole at all, it is, arguably, the national dish of Mexico. Stripped down, this stew is protein, hominy, water, some sort of onion or garlic, and Mexican oregano. Those ingredients are (or should) be in every pozole worthy of the name. 

My pozole verde recipe is essentially my pozole blanco recipe, which is rather spare, with added green things — what green things I’ll get to in a minute. (I also have a recipe for pozole rojo, too, as well as a Sonoran variant called gallina pinta, which has beef and beans.)

Variations on pozole verde exist in a number of places throughout Mexico, from Mexico City to Guanajuato, Michoacan to Guerrero, where it is a huge deal on Thursdays, for whatever reason. There’s even a sort of green pozole in Oaxaca, where they will sometimes make a white pozole, then add a big dollop of mole — and this can be mole verde — that you can stir into your soup. 

Flavorwise, if you have never eaten pozole verde, it’s a cascade of Mexican flavors. You get acidic tomatillos, but you get alkaline hominy corn kernels to balance that out, and a bit of brightness from herbs, lime juice and chiles.

It’s not supposed to be über hot, but it does have a nice gentle heat. The stew broth gets a lot of body from toasted, ground-up pumpkin seeds (pepitas), and little shreds of meat round everything out.

I have mixed and matched the additions I’ve seen from these places, but I rely most heavily on pozole verde from Guerrero. I’ve eaten it in many variations, and tip my hat to Chef Rick Bayless in his book Authentic Mexican, as well as the wonderful, yet hard-to-find series of books by the Mexican government that detail the cuisines of each of that nation’s states. 

In this case, the book I leaned on most is La Cocina Familiar en el Estado de Guerrero

CLoseup of a bowl of pozole verdeCLoseup of a bowl of pozole verde
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Meat in Pozole Verde

The meat in most pozole verde is pork, and that is what I use here. I happen to have access to pig’s heads, which is traditional, but if you don’t have a cabeza lying around, hocks, jowls, shoulder, “country ribs” and even some belly will all do nicely. Vary it up so you have some different colors and textures. 

Don’t like pork? Chicken, or something like it, is the way to go. In a perfect world you would use wild pheasants, grouse or a young wild turkey, but a stewing hen or older chicken would be awesome, too. You can find stewing hens in Latin or Asian markets. 

If you want to make a meatless pozole verde, I suggest using meaty mushrooms like common button mushrooms, porcini, or chanterelles, whose bright yellow color will look pretty with the green broth.

To make this recipe taste right, you do need tomatillos, pepitas and hominy, which are gigantic kernels of corn. All of these ingredients are common in every Latin market in America, and I’ve seen hominy in regular markets, too. Pepitas are often in regular markets’ “Hispanic Aisle” and can be found in the bulk bins and even in convenience stores as a snack. 

I prefer to make my own nixtamal — what Mexicans call hominy — and start with that. Masienda sells a spectacular corn for pozole online, if you are interested. But canned hominy is fine. Just know that if you use canned corn, it goes in towards the end of cooking. 

Like chili or Vietnamese pho, pozole verde is one of those stews where half the fun is adding all sorts of toppings at the table. Some pozole recipes add chicharrones and even sardines (!) to their toppings, but I stuck to the more familiar cilantro, avocado, onion and lime. Chopped green chiles would be another good idea. Just keep it green.

Three optional items will make the dish better, but you can skip them if you can’t find them: Epazote, hoja santa, and sorrel. Epazote is a green herb that is pretty easy to find in Latin markets (it’s also a common urban weed), and sorrel can sometimes be found in farmer’s markets. Hoja santa can also sometimes be found dried in Latin markets, but it’s rare fresh unless you grow it.

¡Buen provecho!

  • 1 pig’s head, or 3 pounds pork shoulder, hocks, jowls, or ribs
  • 2 pounds nixtamal, or two 28-ounce cans of hominy
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano, Mexican if possible
  • Salt
  • 20 tomatillos (not the little ones)
  • 2 or 3 serranos or jalapenos, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons lard, or other cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup pepitas, toasted in a frying pan until aromatic and then ground
  • 10 large sorrel leaves (optional)
  • 1 small bunch of epazote (optional)
  • 3 hoja santa leaves (optional)
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • If you happen to be using a pig’s head, submerge it in water in a very large pot and bring to a boil. Add the nixtamal, if using. Drop the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 1 hour. Add the oregano, then keep cooking it until the meat wants to fall off the bone, about 2 1/2 hours. You will want to pull the head before it collapses, however, or things will get messy when you pick off all the meat.

  • If you are using nixtamal but not a pig’s head, cover the corn with about 1 1/2 gallons of water and cook for 1 hour. Then add all the pork bits you have decided to put in your pozole. Simmer until tender as above. Once tender, break up the meat into bits you’d like to eat in a soup.

  • While this is happening, marinate the red onion in the 1/4 cup of lime juice. This removes any sulfur sting from the onion.

  • Once the corn is tender, add salt, but not before. Adding salt too early makes the kernels tough. After the meat and corn is all ready, or close to it, make it a green pozole by doing the following:

Making it Green

  • If you are using canned hominy, now is the time to stir it into the pot.

  • Cover the tomatillos with just enough water to cover and boil. Drop the heat to a bare simmer and let this cook for 15 minutes. Move the tomatillos to a blender and add to the blender the ground pumpkin seeds, epazote, hoja santa and sorrel (or any of these you happen to be using) and the chopped chiles. Buzz into a smooth puree; you might need to add some of the broth from the pozole.

  • Heat the lard in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot and add the blender mixture. Stirring constantly, cook this on medium-high for about 5 minutes, then scrape it all into the soup pot. Stir well, bring to a simmer and cook at least 10 more minutes, and up to 1 hour, but no more.

  • To serve, ladle out some pozole and let everyone top it with the marinated onion, avocado, cilantro and lime.

If you want to make this with chicken, pheasant or rabbit, follow the guidelines above for the pork shoulder version. 

Keys to Success

  • At least once in your life you need to try the nixtamal version. The corn is so much better. You can actually buy nixtamalized corn from Rancho Gordo, so you don’t need to do the overnight soak. 
  • An iron rule when dealing with the heads of things: What looks like meat, keep large. What is sketchy, chop small. 
  • Time is your friend here. You can’t rush good pozole. Do this when you have more time than you need, because you can turn off the pozole and eat it later if it’s done before dinnertime. 
  • Yes, this works with wild hogs. 
  • Other topping options besides avocado, red onion and cilantro would be radishes, cabbage, more Mexican oregano, or other herbs like pipicha or pitiona. 
  • This is not a picante stew. If you want it hotter, use hotter green chiles, or add hot sauce at the end. 

Calories: 430kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 501mg | Potassium: 918mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 291IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Source link: by Hank Shaw at

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Wild Game Cooking

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs Recipe

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Deviled eggs control me. Whenever I see them, I must eat them. All of them. And smoked salmon deviled eggs rule them all.

I’ve been known to eat an entire dozen eggs’ worth at one sitting. And yes, I know full well that I will pay for it later. “Just one more,” I think, and before you know it, there are no more deviled eggs. Then I am sad.

smoked salmon deviled eggs

It really doesn’t matter how good the deviled eggs are, either — I’ll gorge myself even on crappy deviled eggs from a gas station. But put a well-made deviled egg in front of me and I am pretty much helpless, doomed to goldfish-like eating control issues and that awesome feeling of an entire dozen eggs marinating in your gut.

Even though it might seem like an odd combination, smoked salmon deviled eggs have been around a while. By “a while” I mean at least back to the early 1980s. They served something like this at brunch restaurant my mom would take us to back then, and yes, I ate too many there, too.

Along with that miserable carrot salad with the raisins...

smoked salmon deviled eggs recipesmoked salmon deviled eggs recipe
Photos by Holly A. Heyser

Salmon in Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

I use regular, hot-smoked salmon in these eggs, but you can also use the daintier, usually store-bought cold smoked salmon, too. They are different, but both good.

If you use hot-smoked salmon as I do, you flake it out and mash it in with the yolk mixture. If you use cold smoked salmon, you may want to just slice little bits or slivers and use that as a garnish on top or the yolk mixture.

I use wild salmon I’ve typically caught myself, but really any variety of smoked salmon works well. If I had to choose the best for hot-smoked salmon deviled eggs, I’d choose smoked chum salmon.

Serving and Storing

This is an easy, elegant thing to bring to a potluck or brunch. It also makes a cool picnic appetizer or something to bring to a backyard BBQ — but since it can be eaten in one bite with one hand, these eggs are ideal for cocktail parties, too. Or you can just make some, turn on the football game and eat them all yourself.

You can make smoked salmon deviled eggs the morning before you eat them, or even the night before, but in general they don’t keep long. And they don’t freeze well. My advice is to make and eat.

The flavor is almost a perfect mashup between smoked salmon and deviled egg. The eggs mute what can sometimes be a sharp smoked twang in the fish, but that smoke also livens up the egg.

The color is beautiful and my addition of salmon caviar to the dish — I make my own, but you can buy in it lots of supermarkets — really elevates this. But it’s not strictly needed.

If you like these, try my crabmeat stuffed deviled eggs, too. They’re just as good!

So go ahead and make these eggs, but beware: You may find yourself eating them all. And you will pay for it.

  • Slice the boiled eggs lengthwise and pop out the yolks. Mix the yolks with the mustard, mayo, smoked salmon, shallot, Tabasco and lemon juice and mash into a paste. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

  • Spoon into the egg whites and dust with the paprika. Garnish with salmon caviar.

Egg Peeling Tips
If you can, use older eggs because they will peel more easily. After you’ve boiled them and the eggs are cooling in ice water, you can crack the bottoms as they rest, which also helps them peel more easily. If you get in trouble while peeling, do it under the water you cooled them in, which also helps. 

Calories: 330kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 427mg | Sodium: 571mg | Potassium: 176mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 603IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 69mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Source link: by Hank Shaw at

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