For this turkey leg barbacoa, the legs are slowly, sexily braised in beef stock flavored with bay leaves, paprika, cumin, cloves, oregano, lime juice, vinegar. Not your grandma’s Thanksgiving now, is it?!
Looking for a way to prepare turkey that’s a little different than the usual holiday fare? These braised turkey legs offer an ideal (and eye-catching) solution. Slowly cooked in a tangy, spice-spiked braising liquid, the turkey is then shredded and ready to be smothered with chile sauce and your favorite fixings. Tuck it into a taco, stuff it in a quesadilla, pile it atop a baked sweet potato, or let us know what you did in a comment below.–Angie Zoobkoff
Turkey Leg Barbacoa
- Quick Glance
- 1 H, 10 M
- 3 H, 40 M
- Serves 4 to 6
- For the barbacoa
- 4 turkey legs (from 2 turkeys)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon oregano (Mexican if possible)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 sprig epazote (optional)
- 1/2 cup lime juice
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1 quart store-bought or homemade beef stock or venison stock
- 1/4 cup lard or vegetable oil (optional)
- Smoked salt (optional)
- For the chile sauce
- 2 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 4 dried guajillo chiles, de-stemmed, seeded, and torn up
- 4 dried ancho chiles, de-stemmed, seeded, and torn up
- 2 dried or canned chipotle or cascabel chiles, de-stemmed, seeded, and torn up
- Salt, black pepper and lime juice to taste
- To serve
- Cilantro, shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, chile sauce* and/or hot sauce
- Make the barbacoa
- 1. In a large, heavy, lidded pot combine the turkey legs with the bay leaves, paprika, cumin, cloves, oregano, salt, lime juice, vinegar, and stock. Add the epazote if using. If the meat is not completely submerged, add enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook at a very gentle simmer until the meat falls off the bone, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove the turkey legs from the braising liquid and let cool. Reserve the braising liquid as you may perhaps need some for the chile sauce and then you can use the rest however you please, perhaps in a ramen bowl garnished with some of the turkey barbacoa.
- Make the chile sauce
- 2. While the meat is cooking, heat a medium skillet over medium heat and warm the lard or oil. Toss in the onions and cook until softened and lightly browned. Stir in the garlic and the torn-up chiles and mix well. Cook for 1 minute and then add enough water to barely cover. Season with salt and simmer until the chiles are tender, about 15 minutes.
- 3. Transfer the sauce to a blender and purée until smooth. You want it to be the consistency of barbecue sauce. Add salt, black pepper, and lime juice to taste. The sauce will keep for about a week in the refrigerator.
- 4. When the turkey is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin. Shred the meat and, if your meat looks on the lean or dry side, add the lard or vegetable oil. If desired, sprinkle the meat with the smoked salt. You can serve it as-is, or jazz it up with the addition of chile sauce, cilantro, shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, or chile or hot sauce.
- To make rabbit barbacoa, simply substitute 6 rabbit legs (from 3 rabbits) for the turkey legs.