No primary cut from any wild game should ever be thrown. But I understand why so many hunters leave behind the wings, thighs and legs of a spring swallow – they are tough, unbearable, if not cooked properly. However, if you know how to treat them, they can be delicious.
There is no such thing as instant gratification when it comes to cooking a piece of tireless meat. Hard cuts require time and low heat to eventually give soft bites. One of the best ways to cook turkey legs – or other difficult cuts – is called stewing. To do this, fry the meat in a hot pan and then cook slowly in the juice over low heat for a long period of time. The long cooking time and low heat break down the strong muscle fibers while the juices prevent the meat from drying out.
Before boiling the turkey legs, I recommend that the meat be wiped dry and aged in the refrigerator with kosher salt and black pepper. The brine will soften the meat a bit and concentrate the taste. It also helps the meat retain moisture during cooking.
The cooking liquid in this recipe is a sauce called sugo – which means “sauce” in Italian. It’s close to a bolognese sauce, but no cream. You can experiment with sauces and other cooking juices, but the essential technique should remain the same when you want to soften hard cuts: Boil to caramelize the outside and simmer slowly and slowly for at least 4 hours. I like to use a Dutch oven, but a pot will work as well.
Ingredients Sugo and Polenta for turkey legs
Makes four rations
- Wild turkey thigh and leg
- Hive salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Polenta
- 3 glasses of water
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Sliced onions for garnish (optional)
- 2 large, grated carrots
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced
- 4 large cloves of garlic, roasted
- 2-4 glasses of beef juice
- 1 cup red wine
- 12 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 8.5 ounces dried tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 whole sprig of fresh thyme
- 1 whole sprig of fresh sage
- 1 full sprig of oregano
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Broccoli baby
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
Thoroughly melt the thigh and leg of the wild turkey and dust all sides with coconut salt and freshly ground black pepper. Let the meat stand in the refrigerator without covering for three days. When ready to cook, add a thin layer of olive oil to a Dutch oven over medium heat. Separate the thigh and leg and add to the Dutch oven after the oil has been heated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. You want to hear the meat squeak when you add it to the pan. If you do not, remove the meat immediately and wait for the oil to heat up.
Grill all sides of the turkey’s thigh and leg adequately and then set aside. Add the minced onion, and a little olive oil, to the Dutch oven and a little salt and pepper. Once the onions are fried, add the grated carrots and a little olive oil. Continue to stir until the carrots are mostly soft. Add the turkey back to the Dutch oven, along with the garlic cloves and lower the heat to low. This will allow some of the turkey juices to drip into the onions and carrots.
After cooking for half an hour, remove the turkey thigh and leg and set aside while adding the onions, carrots and garlic to a blender along with the dried and crushed tomatoes. Mix well, then add back to the Dutch oven and mix with the remaining sauce ingredients (beef juice, red wine, balsamic vinegar, fish sauce, salt and pepper, thyme, sage, oregano and bay leaves).
Add the turkey thigh and leg to the sauce in the Dutch oven and cover. Then, place in the oven at 275 degrees F for 4 hours. Check every half hour to an hour to make sure the juices still cover most of the turkey meat – add beef broth to the sauce if it is not. When the meat is ready, it should be easily removed from the bone. If it does not pass after 4 hours, turn on the oven to 300 and check every half hour until the meat is tender.
Read more: The best pellet smokers of 2022
To roast the vegetables, chop the edges of the asparagus and peel the carrots. Then lightly grease and salt them together with the baby broccoli and spread the vegetables in a roasting pan. Place in the oven next to the Dutch oven 30 to 45 minutes before removing the turkey.
For the polenta, put 3 cups of water on a low boil, add 1 cup of polenta and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. Reduce heat to low and stir frequently until water is completely absorbed (should take about 5 minutes). Cover until ready to serve.
To serve, remove the herb branches and bay leaves from the sauce. Then remove the turkey thigh and leg and remove the meat from the bones either with tongs or a fork, and finely chop or grate. Add the minced turkey back to the sauce in the Dutch oven and salt to taste. Add the polenta to a plate followed by the roasted vegetables, then a tablespoon of wild turkey and extra sauce. Garnish with onions.