Turkey legs are a speedy alternative to preparing an entire turkey. They are often sold at festivals and fairs; however, since turkey legs aren't a commonly prepared home meal, you may not know how to long to cook them. The cooking temperature for turkey legs and preparation time varies depending on your chosen method.
What Is the Cooking Time for Turkey Legs?
Grilling Turkey Legs
Grilling is one of the most commonly used methods for preparing turkey legs. The total preparation time for grilled turkey legs is 30 to 40 minutes. If you plan on soaking the turkey legs in a marinade beforehand, factor in an additional four to 24 hours marinating time. Once the turkey legs are marinated or seasoned to your preference, heat a grill to "Medium" heat. Add four to six turkey legs to the grill and cover with a lid. Grill the turkey legs for approximately five to 10 minutes, then uncover the grill and turn the legs over. Replace the grill cover and continue grilling and flipping the turkey legs every five to 10 minutes until they are golden brown. Turkey legs generally require 20 to 30 minutes of total grilling time. Remove the turkey from the grill and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Roasting Turkey Legs
For an indoor cooking alternative, roast turkey legs in the oven. Cooking turkey legs in the oven is more time consuming than grilling and usually takes about two hours. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, then coat or season four to six turkey legs to your desired flavor. Grease a roasting pan with butter or cooking spray, then add the turkey legs in a single layer. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast in the oven for one hour. Remove the aluminum foil, then cook for another hour or until the turkey is golden brown. Let the turkey sit for 10 minutes before serving to retain the juices.
Slow Cooking Turkey Drumsticks
When the weather outside is frightful, or there's no time to cook after a busy day, stewed or crock pot turkey legs make an easy hot meal. Both methods start by browning the turkey drumsticks in butter or oil over "Medium-high" to "High" heat. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes, turning regularly, until the turkey legs are evenly browned.
Stew the Turkey Legs
If you're at home and able to monitor the cooking process, place the turkey legs into a deep pan or stew pot. Add 1 3/4 to 2 quarts of broth. Use your favorite turkey leg recipe or add herbs, garlic, onions, chopped celery and carrots to the still-hot pan and saute until lightly browned. Add 1/2 cup of water or wine to the pan and stir to loosen the browned bits from the pan. Pour the vegetables and sauce into the stew pot. Cover and bring the broth to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently for one hour. If desired, add potatoes and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
Use the Crock Pot
After browning the turkey legs, place them in a large crock pot and cover with broth. Add additional lightly browned herbs and vegetables, such as garlic, onion, celery and carrots, to the crock pot. Cover and cook for two to three hours on high, or four to six hours on low.
Make the Gravy
Remove the turkey legs and vegetables from the broth and cover to keep warm. Strain the broth and return to the stew pot or put in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the broth and boil gently for at least 2 minutes, until the liquid thickens into gravy. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of sour cream, heavy cream or butter, if desired.
Checking the Internal Temperature
Cooking times may vary depending on the thickness of the meat or the power of your cooking device. Regardless of the cooking technique you use, measure the internal temperature of the turkey legs even if they appear done on the outside. It can also prevent you from having to cut into the meat to check for doneness. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, turkey must be cooked until its internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Insert an instant-read meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey leg meat. Avoid placing the thermometer near the bone or into any areas containing gristle. If the thermometer measures less than 165 degrees Fahrenheit, cook the turkey legs for an additional five to 10 minutes and measure again.
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