These bird legs have been a favorite of family barbeques for years. Not only are they incredibly flavorful, but they’re fun to eat!
When preparing this dish, I like to imagine myself as a knight at the Round Table in King Arthur’s days of glory, spinning yarns of battle, rejoicing in the fellowship of my brothers, singing songs of the land, dancing, consuming goblets of brew and recklessly devouring one handful after another of these gargantuan grilled turkey legs.
Okay, I think you get the idea.
Before my imagination runs upon another wild tangent, this grilled bird is a perfect alternative to the classic stuffed, dry roasted, flavorless, cardboard-tasting, over-baked bird in the oven. This fool-proof turkey recipe is both incredibly delicious and a huge time-saver when compared to a traditional roasted bird. Following a swim in brine, these legs will be from grill grates to guests’ plates in less than two hours. That will leave plenty of time for partaking in song, dance and beverage consumption amongst fellow kinsman!
This recipe starts with a traditional brine, soaking the turkey legs overnight in a solution of salt, water and sugar. After brining, the dry rub is liberally applied and the turkey is brought to fire where it is seared over intense direct heat. Then, the bird legs are set to rest upon alder planks, over indirect heat, where in the final minutes of grilling a honey glaze is applied, caramelizing over the crisp exterior skin of the bird legs. This sweet honey glaze brings full circle the natural juicy, salty and smoky flavor of the turkey, with the bold, spicy seasonings of the dry rub.
This grilled bird is a perfect alternative to the classic traditional bird. Not only a huge time-saver when compared against the traditional roast turkey, this bird is full of bold, intense flavor, as the sweet honey glaze brings full circle the natural salty, smoky flavor of the turkey, with the spicy seasonings of the dry rub.
- 1/4 cup table salt
- 1/4 sugar
- 3 cups warm water
- 4 turkey legs
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for basting
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1/2 tablespoons ground allspice
- 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup lite brown sugar
- 2-4 alder wood planks, soaked in water approximately 20-30 minutes
- To create the brine, dissolve the salt and sugar into the water. Mix thoroughly and then let the brine cool to room temperature.
- Immerse the turkey legs in brine, cover container and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
- Remove the turkey legs from the brine, thoroughly rinse under cold water, and pat dry. Discard brine.
- Place the legs back in the refrigerator for one hour, uncovered, to additionally dry and tighten the skin.
- Pulse the olive oil, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, allspice, cumin, salt and pepper in a food processor to create the rub. Set aside.
- In small bowl, whisk the brown sugar and honey. Set aside.
- Preheat the grill to medium, 300-400°F, using indirect cooking (one side of the grill off).
- Liberally massage the dry rub into the turkey and allow 20 minutes for the turkey to rest at room temperature before taking to the grill.
- Over direct heat, sear the turkey legs for 3-4 minutes per quarter turn.
- Lay the alder wood planks over indirect heat, then place turkey legs over the planks and baste intermittently with oil.
- Grill turkey over planks for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 175°F.
- In last 15 minutes of grilling brush the brown sugar-honey mixture over the legs.
- Remove from the grill and place under a tin foil tent for five minutes. The internal temperature of the legs will rise to a serving temperature of 180°F.
- Lightly brush with honey, season to taste, plate, and serve immediately.
Don't let the long prep time scare you. Most of that is the turkey brining overnight in the refrigerator.