Give me a leg up! (smoked, cured)
May 7, 2017 7:46 AM   Subscribe

I bought these smoked turkey legs at the store. Looking at the ingredients, they are cured. I know that some smoked turkey legs are pre-cooked, but these don't look cooked and have the standard "safe handling instructions" sticker. I want to cook them whole, not as part of collard greens or soup. Should I cook these as if they are raw, or as if they are pre-cooked? Bonus points for recipe suggestions.
posted by duoshao to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When I bought those I found them to be so smoky that the only way they were useful was as part of a chili. I know you said you didn't want to use them that way but I think if you try to eat them straight you will find them unpalatably smoky (unless your tolerance for smoke is way higher than mine of course.) Cooking them in liquid not only flavors the rest of the ingredients but also dilutes the smokiness of the meat.

In terms of food safety I am pretty sure you need to bring them to safe poultry temp before eating and not heat them so fast as to make them tough, which in practice means you need to cook them. (If there's a label saying "ready to serve" then of course that wouldn't apply, but without that, I wouldn't risk it.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:53 AM on May 7, 2017

Response by poster: fingersandtoes, would you say that boiling them might be a viable option get them to a safe temp and tone down the smokiness?
posted by duoshao at 7:56 AM on May 7, 2017

I think slow simmering would work. Not a rolling boil which I think would toughen things up.

Are yours like the ones in this post? (I wouldn't cook them this way because as I said I think they need the smokiness toned down, but it seemed to work for this guy. NB that these were pre-cooked, but the label still says make sure internal temp reaches 165.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:25 AM on May 7, 2017

I see the label says "Ready to Cook", so I would definitely cook them before eating. I would simmer them in just enough water to cover at the lowest temperature where you can see active convection going on (think sous vide without the bag) for 2.5 to 3 hours. The ones I buy are full of long, tough tendons, so if yours are like that, you'll have to flake the meat off the bones and tendons no matter what you're going to make with it.

I have cooked them with beans and liked that a lot. I have also separated the meat and made turkey salad with it and enjoyed that very much also. If you decide to make something that doesn't require the broth, cooking rice is a very tasty use for the broth.

The ones I buy are labeled "Fully Cooked", so I usually just eat them cold, gnawing the meat off caveman style.
posted by Bruce H. at 8:34 AM on May 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I see blood in the package and it would say fully cooked on it if they were.
posted by brujita at 9:14 AM on May 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Cooking those legs on the stovetop is a good way to go since it keeps the meat moist and a long simmer releases the meat from the tendons. Don't skimp on the water (which can be used to cook other foods that want a smokey flavor afterwards if you want). You can also add garlic, herbs and spices to the water as you like. Stovetop is a much better method than low oven in my opinion.

If you want to tone down the smokiness, I'd suggest changing out the water at least once. If you simmer them for about 2 hours, the meat will be fall-off-the-tendons tender.

Fairly sure even smoked turkey parts that are labeled "fully cooked' need to be brought up slowly to a internal temp of 140F or maybe 160F? at home for food safety and for tenderness --- maybe someone more familiar can confirm?

(Yes, I cooked and ate smoked turkey legs this weekend. They are, in fact, incredibly smokey but can make a great sandwich.)
posted by vers at 1:06 PM on May 7, 2017

I usually go one step further and blanch the room temp-ish (20 mins out of the fridge) legs in boiling water for one minute, discard that water, then bring them up to a simmer in cold water or vegetable broth. It gets rid of that SMOKE taste and lets it mellow out. I cook to about 155° and turn off the heat and let them steep a while until they're cool enough to handle. Eat then, or chill for sandwiches or Turkey salad.

If I don't blanch them first, I could season a washtub of greens with one leg.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:53 PM on May 8, 2017

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