Maple Bourbon Brined Turkey Legs
Easy does it this Thanksgiving with the Char-Broil oil-less fryer : The Big Easy. I cooked up some delicious and juicy Maple Bourbon Brined Turkey Legs for you all today with The Big Easy. Thanks to Char-Broil for sponsoring this post.
When my friend Kita of Girl Carnivore asked me if I wanted to be a part of a campaign for Char-Broil and try out their oil-less turkey fryer, The Big Easy, I said ” heck yes!” and I knew immediately what I wanted to make, one of my husband’s favorite foods, brined turkey legs, made with one of his favorite liquids, bourbon. I have always been intrigued by the deep fried turkey.
So many friends say how delicious it is, but I am not a fan of deep fried foods. All that extra oil adds so much extra fat and calories. There has to be a way to have the same great flavor and texture as frying but without the oil. I do love the fun videos of turkeys exploding in the deep fat fryers.
I believe the show Mythbusters exploded a frozen turkey once, and I would rather leave the risk of explosion to the experts and fry foods at home without oil. So brined turkey legs cooked in The Big Easy is the way to go for me.
Behold The Big Easy. There are a few key points as to why this no oil fryer is amazing :
A. Easy : no expensive oil to purchase, clean-up or recycle. Cooks turkeys in half the time of a traditional oven (10 minutes per pound). Frees up your Thanksgiving oven for other items.
B. Safe : no open flames and no hot oil to burn, splatter or spill
C. Healthy: the same great fried turkey taste without the added calories, sodium and fat from peanut or canola oil.
D. Delicious Flavor: the cooker uses infrared heat via propane to lock in flavor and keep food moist. No one likes a dry turkey.
Sounds perfect doesn’t it? I would say its pretty dang close to cooking perfection.
For my turkey legs recipe I went ahead with an overnight brine. I have only roasted a whole turkey twice in my life. Once I brined it and it came out really juicy and moist, but there was SO MUCH FOOD leftover for our small family.
I would have been better off roasting a breast and two legs instead of the whole bird. That is why I am sharing a recipe for turkey legs. Why make an entire bird when you can make just your favorite pieces?
I went with a brine that is really flavorful with just a few ingredients. Maple and bourbon being the star players in the brine. I also brined overnight – about 12-14 hours – but the legs can sit in the brine for as little as 4 hours up to 24. I like around 12 hours for a brine to really get good flavor into the meat without being overly salty.
Once out of the brine, I pat dry the turkey legs and lightly season with salt and pepper. No need for oil or any fat. I also wrapped the ends in foil for most of the cooking so the ends don’t end up looking like charcoal briquettes. Not a good look.
You can see how big this fryer is by the basket that fits into it. There are a TON of different attachments and accessories to cook all kinds of meats besides a whole turkey. I am excited to try a pork roast, ribs and kebabs. These turkey legs were so easy to cook up. I rotated them a few times while cooking using extra long tongs.
The basket comes with a hook so you don’t have to reach into the fryer to rotate the meat.
Juicy turkey leg perfection with crispy skin all without any added fat or deep frying. I would say this is a win-win. I am all for healthier ways to cook favorite foods and while it is find to indulge on favorite foods once in a while, life is too short not to, but now you can have favorites more often since they are cooked in a much healthier manner.
I think this might be my new favorite way to cook meats. My husband really loves it and we have already cooked many foods in it. So it isn’t just for turkey.
I joked with my husband that The Big Easy was his early Christmas present. He loves to cook with grilling and smoking as his specialty. Now he has this awesome oil-less fryer next to his grill and smoker on our back patio. I joked we are going to need a bigger backyard soon if I keep adding to his outdoor “kitchen”.
We have three grills, one gas, two charcoal ( one is a hibachi), an electric smoker and now The Big Easy.
He would love a fancy schmancy built in backyard kitchen/grilling station one day. But for now its “a-la-carte” with the different outdoor appliances we have.
I also bribed him into helping me with pictures for my maple bourbon brined turkey legs by being my hand model. I told him his payment is the turkey legs. Easy to get him to work for me when the payment is food.
For the brine:
- 3/4 cup Maple Syrup
- 1/4 cup Kosher Salt
- Peel from one medium orange, about 6-8 slices
- 1/2 medium white onion, sliced ( about 1/2 cup)
- 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 2 quarts water, divided
- 2/3 cups Bourbon
For the Turkey Legs
- 4-8 Turkey legs with skin on. The brine makes enough for 4 to 8 legs. (Look for legs about 1.5 pounds each)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- In a medium pot combine the maple syrup, salt, orange peel, onion, rosemary, peppercorns, bay leaves and one quart of the water and heat until the salt is dissolved, stirring once in a while, but don’t bring to a boil. Once the salt is dissolved turn off the heat and let cool ten minutes. Add in the bourbon and the remaining water. Let cool completely. Place the turkey legs into a resealable gallon sized bag and pour the brine into the bag. Seal and let brine a minimum of 4 hours up to 24 hours. Preferably 12-14 hours for best flavor.
- When ready to cook, bring the turkey legs still in the brine to room temperature. Preheat The Big Easy to medium-high heat. Remove the turkey legs from the brine and place on a baking sheet. Pat dry with a paper towel then lightly season with salt and pepper. Wrap the ends of the legs with foil. Place the turkey legs into The Big Easy frying basket and lower into the cooker. Cook for 45-55 minutes, rotating the legs for even cooking, until the internal temperature reaches 165 Deg F. Once fully cooked remove the turkey legs and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
For those of you that don’t have The Big Easy (although I suggest you get one, they are amazing) you can cook these on a regular grill over indirect heat or roast in a 350-400 deg F oven. In an oven tent with foil for 2/3 of the cooking time then uncover to crisp the skin. For all cooking methods cook until the internal temp on the thickest part of the leg reaches 165 Deg F.
Thanks again to Char-Broil for providing me with The Big Easy so I could make this recipe for you all today.