I fondly remember my dad outback in the yard behind our trailer house manning the oversized black smoker my uncle welded for him slowly adding hand chopped piece after piece of Pecan logs into the smoke box. Nothing smells better than the slow burning of Pecan or Hickory or Apple wood and nothing tastes better than food cooked low and slow while that smoke gently blankets it. One of my favorites my dad smoked was turkey legs and mostly because my mother and sister did not like them and it was one of the few things my dad and I shared together that was just ours. Smoked meats, Boudin, cracklings, hot sausages, Gumbo, and ham hocks provided me common ground with my dad that was absent otherwise. Of course, because of the extreme interpretation my parents took on proper Southern roles for girls and boys, I was only allowed to watch him grill and never invited to help. Watching was enough of a lesson for me however, and as soon as I had a backyard of my own I immediately started practicing cooking over hot coals and slow smoking meats.
Last time I fired up my grill, I threw on a pair of large turkey legs I’d picked up at Detwiler’s Farmer’s Market just to break the ice on smoking turkeys. I’ve turned out a couple amazing briskets, dozens of chickens and ribs, but I’ve shied away from turkey for some reason. Perhaps it’s because of how nostalgic smoked turkey is for me and I was afraid I’d fall short of my memories. The recipe I developed produced beautifully smoked turkey legs however, with a rich and succulent flavor that proved my self doubt silly. I devoured half of a turkey leg in one sitting, even after stuffing myself on corn on the cob and char baked potato. It was that damn delicious! The following day I came home from Fair Weather Farm where I’d spent the morning pulling up chickweed and was absolutely starving. So I deboned the remainder of the leftover turkey leg and had smoked turkey sandwiches for lunch with Amy out on the deck. Even after, I still had an entire smoked turkey leg in the fridge, along with leftover corn on the cob and two fire roasted sweet bell peppers I’d also grilled the night before. Plus, I came home with a large handful of organic Daikon radishes gifted to me after my volunteer hours at the farm. Since rainy days were in the forecast, I decided to utilize my slow cooker, my grilled leftovers, the Daikon radish, and this smoked turkey posole recipe is what came to life.
Smoked Turkey Posole
1 Smoked Turkey leg, deboned with tendons discarded and meat reserved, recipe follows or purchase smoked turkey legs from your local butcher or speciality shop
3 fresh Corn on the Cob, grilled or raw, kernels removed and cob reserved
1 can Hominy, drained and rinsed
4 to 6 cups Stock or Water
4 to 5 Daikon radishes, stems removed, peeled and chopped
1 Sweet Onion, chopped
2 to 3 Carrot stalks, washed and chopped
2 Fire Roasted Sweet Bell peppers, such as red and orange, chopped
3 tbsp Cumin Powder, or to taste
3 tbsp TexJoy Chili Powder
3 tbsp Smoked Paprika
1 tbsp Garlic Powder
2 dried Bay leaves
1 tsp dried Mexican Oregano
1 dried Guajillo chili
1 Jalapeno, sliced in half
3 to 4 stalks of Celery, trimmed and washed
Salt and Pepper to taste
Garnish: Fresh Cilantro, Jalapeno slices, Lime wedges
In a large slow cooker set to high, add in the stock or water, turkey leg bone, cobs of corn, half the onion, celery, Bay leaves, Guajillo chili, sliced jalapeno, salt and pepper. Cover and cook the bone broth 4 to 6 hours. Remove all ingredients from the bone broth and discard. Add in the reserved smoked turkey, corn kernels, hominy, bell peppers, carrot, Daikon radishes, and remaining seasonings. Turn slow cooker to low and continue to cook the posole 30 minutes to an hour. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Ladle the posole into bowls and garnish with cilantro, jalapeno slices, and lime wedge. Serve immediately.
Smoked Turkey Legs
For the Brine:
2 Turkey legs
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Smoked Salt, or salt of choice
several Black peppercorns
1 large stock pot or brining bag
enough water to fully submerge the turkey legs
In a large stock pot over a high flame, bring several cups of water to a soft boil. Once simmering add in the brown sugar, salt, and peppercorns. Turn the flame off and allow the brine to cool completely. Once cooled, add in the turkey legs, add additional water if needed, cover and refrigerate several hours up to overnight.
For the Rub:
1 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp Cayenne powder, optional
1 tsp Smoked Salt
4 tbsp Smoked Paprika
1 tsp Garlic powder
2 tbsp TexJoy Salt Free Steak Seasoning
1/4 cup EVOO or Grapeseed oil
Black pepper to taste
2 brined Turkey Legs
Remove turkey legs from brine and place on a cutting board. Set aside. In a med prep bowl, whisk together all the seasonings and oil until well combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Evenly coat the turkey legs in the wet rub and all to marinate at least an hour.
At least a day in advance, soak several chunks of Pecan or wood of choice in water. Prepare a charcoal grill. Once the coals are white hot, position the coals so that one side of the grill has little to no coals for indirect cooking with the remaining coals on the other side of the grill for direct cooking. Place the soaked wood chunks on the cool side of the grill, replace the grill grate, then sear the turkey legs over the hottest section of coals. Once the legs are seared on both sides, move to the cool section of the grill, cover, and continue to smoke one to four hours depending on the temperature of your grill. The slower you smoke the turkey, the better the smoke ring the turkey will have. Once the turkey legs reach an internal temperature between 165 and 175 degrees, remove from the grill and allow the turkey legs to rest at least 10 minutes before serving.