wild turkey recipes

The Trouble with Turkey Legs

In the freezer, I had two packages of ‘turkey legs.’  Once they’d thawed in the fridge for a few days, I tore open the freezer package and found 4 drumsticks, 1 thigh and 1 upper wing. It turned out to be about 2 ¼ pounds of meat altogether but the first step was to fire up the slow cooker. So. I cleaned up the turkey parts a bit, and set them in the pot. What I needed next was enough liquid to cover, and then a bit of neutral spices to give them a bit of flavor infusion, but not enough to limit what I would do with them in the end. (Eventually, one Tex-Mex dish and one Asian soup.

Step one:

Turn your oblong slow cooker on high, place the legs/parts in the pot and add the rest of the ingredients. Just be sure your liquids cover the meat. When it comes to a foamy, bubbly simmer, turn the heat down to low and let the bones cook until the meat falls easily from the bones.

  • 3 pints cold water
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3-4 large cloves of garlic

Once the meat is tender, remove it from the slow cooker, saving the broth. Let the meat cool, then strip the meat from the bones, being careful to remove all the hardened tendons, hard gristle and any little boney stuff.

A word of caution here: as careful as I am, we always find bits of things in the finished dish that might get semi-swallowed and stuck in your throat. So it isn’t a good choice for little kids, people who gulp down their food, etc, etc. I’ve been seconds away from emergency surgery with a bone stuck in my throat. It’s no fun. (FYI, all the poking and prodding worked, though very slowly. The bone dislodged as the Doc was prepping Plan B.)

Now what to do with the meat. And broth. Measure out both on your kitchen scale or in measuring cups. (In case you don’t have a scale, 1 pound of shredded meat is about 2 cups.)

FYI, I ended up with 2 ¼ pounds of turkey meat, and 7 cups of broth.

Here are two turkey recipes: the first is an easy Tex-Mex dish, the second an even easier Asian soup with a bit of flair.

Tex-Mex Bowl – Turkey Recipe

About 4 servings

  • Spice Mix for 1 pound of meat
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Spanish paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 pound turkey meat
  • 2 cups broth
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon spice mix


  1. Mix the spices together and set aside.  In a 3-5 quart Dutch oven, turn the heat to medium high, add the turkey meat and 2 cups of the broth. Then stir 4 teaspoons (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) of the spice mix into the meat/broth combo. Let that simmer and bubble until almost all the liquid is gone but the meat still looks moist. Turn off the burner.

Assembling Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked rice*
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • Fresh salsa or bottled, your choice
  • Chipotle Tabasco to taste (optional)
  • Sour cream (optional)


Divide the turkey meat, rice, pepper, onion, and Jack cheese among 4 bowls, then add the topping(s) of choice. I prefer the fresh salsa our local store makes, with a dab of sour cream, and then dig in; John likes the Chipotle Tabasco with a good bottled salsa and then a bit of nuking just to melt the cheese, (about 20-30 seconds).

*I always use brown rice and, when I cook it, I always cook 2 cups raw brown rice in 4 cups water, adding the rice to the water after the water comes to a boil. When the pot comes to a boil again, turn the heat down to low, and cook until ‘eyes’ form on the top of the rice. (They’re actually just little holes across the entire surface, but foodies and chefs call them eyes.) About 35 minutes.

So what about the Asian soup? I said it was easy and it is. But unlike the first recipe, which has more steps at the end, this one has more steps in the beginning. Onions, celery and carrots need to be chopped, but they’re chopped big, not little. Even the garlic and ginger is chopped rather than minced or grated. And when you put the soup together, there’s no sauteing—the meat’s already cooked, so you just toss everything in the pot, except for the at-the-table garnish, and light a fire under it.

Turkey Leg Soup with a Gentle Asian Bite

Serves 4-6


  • 1 pound turkey leg meat
  • 2 cups broth from the slow cooker
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped coarsely
  • 2 tablespoons rough-chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 teaspoons BTB reduced sodium chicken base
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 2 cups water


  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh ginger grated
  • 3 tablespoons chopped basil
  • Zest from 2 lemons


  1. Pour 2 cups of the slow cooker broth into a 3-5 quart Dutch oven with the rest of the ingredients, except for the at-the-table-garnish. Toss the ingredients together, and turn the heat on high. When the soup comes to a low boil, lower the heat to a simmer. Let the soup simmer 30-40 minutes, uncovered, until the carrots are fairly soft.
  2. Just before the soup is done, combine the grated ginger and basil in a small bowl, and the lemon zest in a second small bowl. Ladle the soup out in bowls, with the garnish at the table so people can add as much or as little as they want. I always start out with a good pinch of everything, then add more of the ginger/basil combo, while John starts with that and adds more lemon zest than I do.

There are 100 more upland bird recipes, tiny quail and woodcock to big old gobblers–in The Upland Gamebird Cookery, $20.00.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *