CHICAGO – FOOD – Visit any of the Disney parks and you will see folks stumbling around delirious with huge smiles and monster turkey legs (actually they are drumsticks since technically legs include the thigh). These pterodactyl-sized drums have spawned fan pages, scores of videos on YouTube, and rumors (no they are not emu legs). They have become so popular that they were featured on page one of the New York Times once. They are not hard to make at home once you crack the secret recipe.
Rather than using ordinary grocery store female turkeys that are usually about 20 pounds, Disney’s supplier, Uncle John’s Pride, uses Tom turkeys, male birds that can grow up to 50 pounds, with legs that run about 1 1/2 pounds. Tom drumsticks this large are hard to find but your butcher may be able to order them for you. If not, my recipe works fine with hens’ legs, typically 10 to 12 ounces, they will just be smaller and cook faster. Not many stores carry solo turkey legs, but if you ask your butcher, he or she can order them, usually in just a few days. If you can’t get them, the recipe works just fine on chicken legs.
Disney legs are injected with a curing brine with a special pink curing salt that gives it a pink color, and then it is smoked. No wonder most folks say it tastes like ham. That’s how they make wet cured ham. And that’s how you sell drinks! Even if you have an injector, I recommend this method of soaking in the curing brine since a single needle injector tends to create pockets of brine.
Takes 10 minutes of preparation, 12 hours to cure, 90 minutes to cook.
Makes. 2 drumsticks of which Mickey would be proud. For more drums, increase the quantity of the brine, but not the time.
- 2 large turkey drumsticks
- 4 teaspoons Morton’s kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Prague powder #1 (pink curing salt #1)
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 cup warm water
About the salt. If you use table salt instead of Kosher salt, cut the amount in half. But don’t skip the Prague powder #1 if you want the Disney look and flavor. You can find it in some groceries and most sporting good stores or click here to order it on Amazon.com. Click here to read more about this and other salts.
About the sugar. If you are diabetic, you can skip the sugar, but very little actually gets into the meat. It does help create the Disney flavor and adds color.
1) Dissolve the salts and sugar in the warm water and then pour it in a zipper bag. Let it come to room temp, add the meat and refrigerate for about 12 hours, and not much longer or it can get too salty.
2) Remove the meat, rinse it so the exterior will not be too salty, and pat the skin dry with a paper towel.
3) Smoke at 325°F over indirect heat for about 1 hour until the thick part of the meat reaches at least 160°F.
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