by the handful

Nutritious culinary and healing recipes collected from the North American garden, orchard, forest, river and ocean

Primal Smoked Turkey Legs

I don’t know how primal this preparation actually is but it sure seems primal when you are chowing down on these things. The turkey drumstick tends to cover the craving basics pretty well, tender salty juicy smoked meat, even just a little sweet and crispy. Spring is the time to dust off the BBQ so get it rolling if you haven’t done so already. This recipe is very simple but does take a little while of course because smoking meat is a slow process.

Primal Smoked Turkey Drumsticks

4 or more turkey legs


Applewood or other wood chips

For the brine:

2 tbsps salt

2 tbsps Maple syrup

3 cloves garlic minced

3 cups cold water

For the brush sauce:

2 tbsps maple syrup

2 tbsps Apple Cider Vinegar

1 tsp Onion powder

1/4 tsp Fine ground pepper

1/2 tsp Salt

The day before cooking up the turkey legs: combine the brine ingredients in a glass dish or freezer bag. Allow the brine to sit to dissolve before adding the turkey legs, refrigerate until ready to cook.

When ready, set up grill for indirect grilling. See note below.

Meanwhile, mix up the ingredients for the brush sauce.

The two fires on each side of the grilling surface should be died down just enough that there is no remaining flame. These fires should remain hot throughout the cooking process. Add a handful of wood chips to each side.  Drain the brine down the sink and pat the turkey legs dry.

Place the turkey legs on the grilling surface and shut the lid. Every 20-30 minutes lift lid, turn the legs and add 3-4 coals and a handful of wood chips to each fire. The total cooking time should take between 3-4 hours. Use the brush sauce the last 2 times you check the turkey legs.

When legs are done, remove from heat and let rest for a little while, I prefer 15-30 minutes.


Note: indirect grilling simply means to split the fire into two and cook in between them.  What this does is it takes longer to cook the food and allows more smoke flavor to be absorbed as well as all the other known benefits of a meat prepared with a slow cooking time. The fire can be started as one and split into two fires or you can just start two fires from the start.

Tip: if you have a drip pan it will help hold in moisture and make whatever meat you are cooking even better. Simply place it in between the two fires and add a cup of water.



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