Beer-Braised, Smoked Wild Turkey Legs Recipe

In this recipe, wild turkey legs are cooked low and slow – first simmered in beer and then smoked with mesquite wood.

Beer-Braised, Smoked Wild Turkey Legs Recipe
Beer-Braised, Smoked Wild Turkey Legs (Photo courtesy of Jack Hennessy)
Print Recipe

For many turkey hunters, the best-case scenario for spring legs involves a snug place at the bottom of the freezer, followed by a year or more collecting frost before any culinary attempt is made. Worst-case scenario: they’re left in the field with the tired phrase, “Coyotes gotta eat too.”

Why does this happen? Because turkey legs are tough when cooked the same as one would the breasts. Still, hunters with ample wild-game cooking experience understand that harder-working muscles on any animal require low-and-slow cooking methods to break down collagen and yield tenderness. What better method than a low simmer in beer followed by a mesquite smoke? (And yes, I know this isn’t exactly braising, but “Beer-Simmered” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.)


I used Walnut River Brewing’s Warbeard Irish Ale, as its caramel and toffee flavors do well with wild turkey, though they only ship to Kansas, Missouri, and Wyoming (yes, solid turkey states – something to consider next spring), but any quality (preferably microbrew) red ale will suffice. Prior to smoking, I liberally dusted with Bearded Butcher’s Original Spice blend, though, in a pinch, a mix of kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder and paprika would work.

I opted for whole mesquite wood chunks on my Pyro Tower, which due to design heavily concentrates smoke. I did my best to keep temps around 200, as a low, heavy smoke not only adds flavor, but also firms up the meat a bit, which is perfect after several hours braising.


Serves: 2
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 5 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole completely thawed wild turkey legs (without thighs)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4-5 celery ribs, diced
  • 1/2 bulb garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 cup coriander seeds
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 24 ounces Warbeard Irish Ale
  • 12 ounces chicken stock
  • Bearded Butcher’s Original or your preferred spice mix
  • Mesquite wood for smoking

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place turkey legs and smashed garlic cloves, diced onion and celery, and coriander seeds in an oven-safe baking dish.

    wild turkey legs
    Place ingredients in an oven-safe baking dish. (Photo courtesy of Jack Hennessy)
  3. Squeeze lemon overtop and cover with beer, followed by chicken stock (ratio should be 2:1 beer to stock). Cover with aluminum foil and place in oven.
  4. Let braise for 4 hours, checking every hour to make certain liquids still cover legs (add more beer if too much has evaporated).
  5. After 4 hours, set smoker to 200 and liberally rub legs with spice mix.
  6. Smoke legs for half-hour to 1 hour, depending on desired texture and smoky flavor.

    wild turkey legs
    Smoked wild turkey legs with Warbeard Irish Ale and Bearded Butcher’s Original seasoning. (Photo courtesy of Jack Hennessy)

    wild turkey legs bones
    Wild turkey bones (Photo courtesy of Jack Hennessy)

Enjoy! Reach out to me on Instagram (@WildGameJack) with any questions or comments.

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