It’s hard to walk through Disneyland — or Disneyworld for that matter — without copping a giant turkey leg. They’re smoky, cured, slow-roasted meaty delights. Plus they make you feel like a Viking, as you tear giant hunks of flesh from the bone. Among all of the many solid food items you can buy at Disney parks, this is certainly the most visceral.
I live relatively close to Disneyland Paris but a very long way from the classic Anaheim park of my childhood. Every time I’m in LA for work or leisure, I try to save at least one day for a trip to the park. It’s just something that brings me a lot of ease and relaxed joy. Call it corny. I don’t care. I’m having too great a time on Splash Mountain, at the Haunted Mansion, and with my corndogs, turkey legs, and chimichangas to notice.
Having mastered the delicious Disney corn dog, I thought I’d turn my eyes towards the mammoth turkey legs. One, it’s turkey which is woefully under-repped in the home kitchen outside of late November. Two, it’s a delightful brine-cured and smoky roasted piece of meat on the bone that’s equal parts messy, delicious, and fun to eat.
A few caveats. I don’t have a smoker or a backyard to house a smoker. That’s part of the challenge because you probably don’t either. This recipe is a do-it-in-any-kitchen sorta thing. If you do have a smoker, then I would recommend skipping the last part where I finish it in my oven and simply finish it in a smoker instead. That being said, let’s dive in.
The first thing I do is fire up my sous vide. The great thing about this method of cooking is that you can brine and cook at the same time. Instead of making a brine and then bathing a piece of meat in said brine for 24-48 hours in a fridge, sous vide gets all that done in about 4 hours (in this case). The meat will be safely and deliciously cooked and will have been well-brined at the same time.
While the water bath is getting up to temp, I make a quick brine of a couple cups of boiling water, half a cup of sea salt and smoked brown sugar then black peppercorns, bay leaves, cardamon seeds, marjoram, smoked paprika, garlic powder, allspice, saltpeter, and a good splash of apple cider vinegar along with a few drops of liquid smoke (again, I don’t have a smoker, sorry).