Smoked turkey legs are one of those crowd favorites that should be represented at every self-respecting barbecue. They are cheap, delicious, and easy to make. I personally think they make a great dinner for a lazy Sunday afternoon. I don’t follow a set recipe but there a few tricks that I use that help make sure they turn out great every time.
First you need a good brine. The basic recipe I use is the one found here. The most important part is the proportion of water to salt. The rest can be adjusted to taste. I up the garlic and paprika and add flaked chili peppers, and hold the sage and cumin. Boil the water and spices to dissolve everything, cool to room temp and then add to a freezer bag containing the turkey legs.
Second, you need a wet rub to help absorb the smoke and help crisp up the skin. I like to start by whipping up a simple sofrito and then adding vinegar and barbecue spices. Sofrito is basically a pureed mixture of bell peppers, onions, garlic tomatoes and spices such as recao, cilantro or parsley. For a recipe like this the spices are not necesarry. Take a medium onion, a large tomato, a head of garlic and a couple bell peppers or an equivalent amount of cubanelle, poblano, or sweet peppers and roughly chop then puree in a blender or food processor. Simmer on the stove for a half hour or so to thicken.
Take a cup or so of the sofrito, add about 1/3 cup of vinegar and your favorite barbecue spices. I like to use some combination of paprika, oregano, thyme, chili powder, salt and pepper. A good chili powder is essential in my opinion. Do yourself a favor and make your own.
Once the turkey legs have rested in the brine for three to four hours, rinse them off, dry them and smother them in the wet rub.
Let them rest another hour or so in the wet rub to let the flavors seep in.
Nothing like a good fire to get your appetite going…
Smoke at 225’F for 4-6 hours. If you want a crispier skin and less tender flesh you can do 275’F for 3-4 hours. Pull them when they reach 165’F.
Slice the leftovers off the bone for sandwiches.