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.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 5 hours
- 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