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Smoked Turkey Legs with a Satsuma-Honey Glaze

After the culinary fiasco of 2004, I approached this year’s Thanksgiving with some trepidation. My confidence was not bolstered when Xy finally read the creme bruleé recipe and asked the following immortal question:

What’s an egg yolk?

I couldn’t believe she was serious, but it turns out she’s never separated an egg before and couldn’t remember which part was which. Hint: The white is the part that turns white when you cook it. The yolk is the other part.

My main responsibility was the turkey. Here’s how I did it.

My original idea was to follow a recipe in the paper that called for slow-cooking turkey legs with mandarin oranges. However, as Thanksgiving Day approached we realized that our crockpot was not big enough to accommodate the six large legs Xy had purchased. Also, it seemed like a shame not to use the Big Green Egg for such an occasion. So I decided to change gears.

From Recipe Link I got the idea to brine the legs, something I’d never even heard of before.

Making the brine was easy: a gallon of water, a cup of salt, half a cup of brown sugar, a gallon of veggie stock. (Actually I didn’t use a full cup of salt. I used 3/4 cup and rounded it off with a 1/4 cup Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning.) Bring to a boil. Let it return to room temperature, then combine with a bunch of ice water and immerse the turkey legs. Put it in the fridge overnight.

In the morning I fired up the Big Green Egg, and got it about as hot as I ever have, over 900ºF, I think. Then I took it back down to something like 250º. I had a lot of pecan wood chips intermixed with the charcoal to impart a nice smoky flavor.

I rinsed the brine off the legs and got them on the grill around 9:30 AM. Smoked ’em for a good four hours. More like five probably. After the first two hours, I turned them and thought they looked a little dry, so I decided to concoct a mop. Returning to the mandarin orange idea, we made a glazing sauce out of fresh-squeezed satsuma juice and honey (and lemon and olive oil and butter and maybe some other stuff). I then turned and mopped the legs every half hour or so until it was time to eat.

Smoking the Legs

They turned out well. In fact, they were so appetizing that even my vegetarian friends were tempted into sampling them.

Smoked Turkey Legs with a Satsuma Glaze

But next year I’d like to try making them a little spicier. Maybe some more cayenne in the brine or the glaze.

Also on the menu: raw oysters (plus a few thrown on the grill) and oyster dressing and Xy’s famous cheeseball and herbed mashed potatoes and green bean casserole and cranberry sauce (with the “can lines still visible”) and sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie and home-made thin mint cookies (even better than the Girl Scout version).

And of course, Xy’s key lime creme bruleé.

Xy's Bruleé

Despite several mishaps, she pulled it together, and it was delicious.

I'm Eating Key Lime Creme Bruleé

But mostly we were happy to enjoy the company of friends: Daisy and DJ and Anna and her daughter Lily and Christina from New York who joined us at the last minute.

Footnote: After the meal we eventually made a pilgrimage to a suburban cineplex to see American Gangster which turns out to be a perfect Thanksgiving flick.

Published inFood & DrinxFriendsHoly DazeLife with XyPix


  1. The dinner picture is very Stanley Kowalski, Bart.

  2. Wow, Mr. Adrastos, less than 120 seconds between posting and first comment. I think that’s a new record. I should mention that I took off my tuxedo shirt just before the picture was taken. No fooling.

  3. Ditto. I love the food porn, but the wife beater pic roolz.

  4. TBK TBK

    Glad it was all a hit.. My main thought was that Xy and her baby Bump look fabulous and Happy.

    Peace thru the season

  5. TBK TBK

    …. Well… I suppose it’s your baby bump too

    as for Spicing up the Turkey next year…Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce stuck under the skin gives a really nice smoky/spicy kick.. .and would take the Mandarin/satsuma combo quite well.

  6. Julie Julie

    Next year one turkey leg will have to be a little less spicey. I’m sure the newest member of the family will want to sample Daddy’s cooking.

    Happy Holidays to everyone!

  7. Don’t mild down the spices on the one toikey leg too much. The young ‘uns can take it until they come to a time in their lives when they decide to let the finicky eaters within take hold…like my little guy.

    Glad your turkey day was a good one!

  8. rickngentilly rickngentilly

    brining is a great technique for poultry. especially on the grill or smoker.

    my experience is that you will get better spicing results with a dry rub , sauce or glaze mopping , or injection.

    or any combo of the above.

    the brining is more for moisture retention during cooking.

    if you ever do a whole bird try stuffing the cavity with large wedges of citrus and fresh herbs.

    check out the new rouse’s they have 50 # bags of pecan wood for sale for 11 bucks.

  9. MF MF

    Remember that dinner party we had on E. Cottage Grove where all the food was horrible? Sanam brought something that was saffron yellow and dry, and even she couldn’t explain what it was? I think we ended up ordering pizza.

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