Satisfy your inner Captain Caveman with these beautiful and super-juicy “Brined and Baked Turkey Legs”.
No matter if we are at a State Fair or a random weekend local festival, when my husband, Sam, goes missing, all I have to do is locate the turkey leg food truck. Yep ~ there he is. Sam loves these giant turkey legs. And I’ll be honest, I only cook turkey at Thanksgiving. It has never occurred to me to cook it any other time of the year. Until I saw them on a recent trip to Whole Foods and threw them into my shopping cart. When Sam saw his dinner that night, you would have thought that I had met him naked at the door wrapped in Saran Wrap (referencing Fried Green Tomatoes for you millennials).
Now, on to brining. I am an avid fan of cooking shows and am constantly hearing the ongoing debate…to brine, or not to brine…that seems to be the question. So, as someone who has never brined anything, I thought I’d give it a try. It was great, but I will say this. When Thanksgiving comes rolling around, I’ll probably stick with what I know and not brine. With that said, this was a wonderfully juicy and flavorful meal!
Brined and Baked Turkey Legs
- 5 cups water
- 1/2 cup sea salt
- 2 dried Chile de Arbol, halved (or 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes)
- 1 tablespoon black or preferred peppercorns
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 4-6 cloves of garlic, slightly smashed (I give mine a quick smack with the flat side of my meat tenderizer)
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon rubbed sage (or a few fresh leaves)
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2 turkey legs
- Baking dish aromatics (choose what you prefer): chopped onions, garlic cloves, lime/lemon/orange slices (choose one) or apple/pear slices. Any combo of these can be scattered around your legs.
- Combine all ingredients except for the turkey legs and baking aromatics in a saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until salt is dissolved. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Place turkey legs in a deep dish which basically just fits the turkey. Pour liquid over the legs. Make sure the liquid covers the meat; if not, add a little water. Cover.
- Refrigerate overnight (at least 6 hours up to 24 hours).
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
- Remove turkey from the liquid and give it a quick shake off.
- In a baking dish place turkey legs, aromatics and a 1/4 cup of water. Drizzle a little preferred cooking oil over the turkey legs. Make a foil tent over the baking dish.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil. Baste the turkey. Continue to cook uncovered for at least 15 minutes until browned and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F (baking time will vary with the size of the turkey legs). Baste again. Let turkey rest for 5 minutes.