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Caribbean Style Smoked Turkey Legs


Smoked Turkey Leg (c) taliesin | morgueFile.com

Smoked Turkey Leg

(c) taliesin | morgueFile.com
Here is my recipe for smoked turkey legs brined with Caribbean herbs and seasoned with adobo. It’s not a jerk recipe, although you can certainly apply jerk seasoning and then smoke the legs. I’ve included the ingredients you need to make your own adobo dry rub, but you can just as easily use your favorite commercial brand.

Before you start, if you aren't familiar with brine techniques or smoking meats, I suggest you read a couple of articles by Derrick Riches the BBQ and Grilling Guide here at About.com. These articles are Brining- The Secret to Making Foods Better and Smoking 101 – True Barbecue Starts with the Smoke.

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 3 hours

Brine: 9 hours

Total Time: 13 hours

Yield: 4


  • 4 turkey legs (drumsticks)
  • food grade mister bottle filled with water or apple juice
  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Brine Ingredients
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour orange juice (or cider vinegar)
  • 4 whole cloves garlic
  • 1 onion (peeled and quartered)
  • 2 or 3 sprigs oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 3 to 4 sprigs thyme (or 1 1/3 teaspoons dried)
  • 2 to 3 leaves culantro (or one bunch cilantro)
  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Adobo Dry Rub Ingredients
  • 6 Tablespoons Salt
  • 6 Tablespoons Granulated Garlic
  • 4 Tablespoons Oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Turmeric
  • 2 Tablespoons Onion Powder
  • 4 turkey legs (drumsticks)
  • food grade mister bottle filled with water or apple juice


Brine the Turkey Legs (Approx. 9 hours)

  • Combine the water, salt, sugar, and sour orange (or vinegar) in a large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.
  • Add the garlic, onions, oregano, thyme, and culantro. Boil for one minute.
  • Remove the brine mixture from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature. It must be further chilled in the refrigerator. Do not use it until reaches approximately 40 degrees Fahrenheit (5 Celsius). You don’t want to start the cooking process, yet!
  • Place the turkey legs into the chilled brine and make sure they are covered thoroughly. A plastic, gallon size, freezer bag will work, or a container where the legs can be fully submerged.
  • Place the turkey and brine back into the refrigerator and let sit for at least 9 hours. You can go longer if you like.
Cook the Turkey
  • Make the adobo dry rub by combining all the adobo ingredients and mix well. (Or just use your favorite commercial blend).
  • Remove the turkey legs from the brine, and then discard the brine.
  • Pat the legs dry with paper towels and thoroughly rub them down with adobo seasoning. Use as much or as little as you like. Be sure to get under the skin if possible. If the seasoning doesn’t seem to adhere well, try rubbing a little bit of olive oil on the legs and then the seasoning.
  • Set the turkey legs aside and prepare your smoker or grill. I like to preheat my smoker anywhere between 220 degrees Fahrenheit (104 Celsius) to 240 degrees Fahrenheit (116 Celsius).
  • In the Caribbean, pimento is a favorite wood for smoking, but it isn’t easy to come by in the states. I like to use hickory, apple, or cherry wood chips when using my smoker.
  • Once the smoker or grill is preheated and you have smoke going, put the turkey legs in leaving enough room for smoke to flow freely around them.
  • About once every hour check the legs, turn them, and mist them with water or apple juice to keep them from drying out.
  • The legs are done when the internal temperature at the thickest part reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 Celsius). Remove from the heat and allow them to rest about 10 to 15 minutes before eating.
Cook’s Note: The turkey legs will take 3 to 4 hours to cook. You can apply smoke for as long as you like during this time. One hour of smoke will have a milder smoke flavor compared to two or three hours.

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