The following recipe and photography is courtesy of Graham R. and his dog, Carl. For more of their delicious food ventures, visit them on Instagram @cookingwithcarrrl.
Thanksgiving gatherings will most likely be a bit smaller than usual this season. You may not need a 20 pound bird and if that is the case, then I have a recipe you will gobble up!
One of the keys to cooking a juicy turkey is cooking the bird as a whole. Once you start cooking smaller pieces of the bird individually, you run the risk of drying out the meat.
There are a few ways to avoid this, one is to baste the turkey (which doesn’t always work) and the other is to brine the turkey. I personally always pick the brining the method. I do this because the brine penetrates deep inside the meat and keeps it moist from the inside. It is also another great way to add subtle flavor to meat.
The brine I’ll be sharing today is full of citrus, cranberries and fresh herbs. What’s great is that it can be used for any part of the bird. I use this recipe for turkey breasts, but it also does wonders on the legs and thighs.
Today we will be using the cranberry brine on a handful of turkey legs! Big, meaty turkey legs are a family favorite of ours. They are fun to eat and I always have a blast with the presentation. The brine works its magic overnight and after a simple bake in the oven, you’ll have some of the most tender turkey you’ve ever encountered.
Trot this way!
- 4 Turkey Legs
- 4 turkey legs
- 4 qts. water
- 1 ½ cup cranberry juice
- 1 cup of salt
- ½ cup cranberries
- 2 oranges
- 1 lemon
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sage leaves, chopped
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1 tsp. peppercorns
- 2 cups of ice cubes
- In a large pot, mix together all the ingredients except for the turkey legs. Bring to a boil for 3-5 minutes or until all of the salt has dissolved.
- Remove from the heat, add ice and place in the fridge. It is extremely important to make sure the brine is cold before adding the turkey. If the brine is hot when the turkey is added, it will start to cook.
- Once the brine is cold, pat the turkey legs dry and add to the brine. Place the brine with the turkey legs back into the fridge for 12-24 hours to get a “leg up” on the competition.
- After 12 hours, remove the legs from the brine and pat them dry. Cover with your favorite poultry seasoning and a bit of olive oil. I used Heinen’s chicken seasoning, its perfect for any type of poultry! Let the legs sit out for 20-30 minutes prior to cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. What’s nice about brined turkey is that there is no need to baste the bird while it is cooking. The flavorful brine penetrates the meat and ensures a juicy bite every time.
- If possible, place the turkey legs upright while cooking. Roast in the oven for 1 ½ – 2 hours until the legs reach an internal temperature of 180˚F.
- Remove from the oven and allow the legs to rest for 10 minutes.
- Wrap the bones with butcher paper and unleash your inner caveman! Serve with cranberry sauce and enjoy.