Most hunters I know just don’t know what to do with wild turkey legs. It’s true— these legs are tough, especially from a dominant, old tom turkey, and the pin bones can be intimidating to cook.
For this reason, these underrated parts are often thrown away, and that’s a shame because that’s a ton of meat wasted; from just two turkey leg and thighs, I was able to make about 25 tacos for this recipe.
And just because turkey may be considered a “white meat,” don’t be fooled. Wild animals are a different and their leg meat is dark and flavorful. However, you do have to put in some work to make them fit for the table.
If you have a slow cooker, then you can cook turkey legs. It’s as easy as seasoning the legs and throwing it into the crockpot for a few hours to tenderize—no more difficult than slow cooking a roast. After 6 to 8 hours, the meat will be so tender that you can do anything with it. Use the meat in your favorite casseroles, soups, stir fries, BBQ sandwiches … or tacos.
These turkey and chipotle fried tacos are by no means healthy, but I promise that they will be gobbled up so quickly. Remember those fast food Jack in the Box or Burger King fried tacos? They were filled with a weird meat paste that was so disgusting but also so addicting at the same time. Well, these tacos are all crunchy, greasy goodness—filled with wholesome ingredients hunted by you.
Servings: 20-25 tacos
Prep time: 6-8 hours
Cook time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
- 2 wild turkey legs and thighs
- 8 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon of salt, plus extra
- ¼ teaspoon of cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of chili powder
- ½ teaspoon of cumin
- 2 cans of beer
- 1 small onion, peeled and halved
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Half a grated onion
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
- 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro stems
- Shredded romaine lettuce
- Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 20-25 corn tortillas
- Corn or vegetable oil for frying
- Hot sauce/taco sauce
Shredded wild turkey for chipotle fried taco recipe. (Jenny Nguyen photo)
1. Remove thick areas of silver skin from turkey—no need to get all of it. Combine minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt, cracked pepper, chili powder and cumin, and then rub it all over turkey. Place turkey in a slow cooker and pour in enough beer to completely submerge turkey. Add halved onion and cover the slow cooker with foil. Place the lid on top of the foil—foil will help keep moisture in. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender. Remove meat from bones and finely shred with two forks, being careful to remove all pin bones.
Wild turkey meat with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and tomato paste. (Jenny Nguyen photo)
2. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add grated onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until softened. Then turn up heat to medium-high and then add the shredded turkey meat with chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and tomato paste. Sauté until meat is warmed through and slightly toasted. Take of heat and add chopped cilantro stems, salt and pepper to taste. Add more adobo sauce from the can if desired. Set meat aside. (You can use cilantro leaves, too, but the stems have just as much flavor and they will also hold up better.)
Warm corn tortillas in oil to prevent them from cracking when assembling tacos. (Jenny Nguyen photo)
3. In a cast iron skillet, heat 1 to 2 teaspoons of vegetable/corn oil over medium heat. Lay corn tortillas into the warm oil and flip back and forth to warm through. (Warming the tortillas in oil helps to moisten the tortilla and prevents it from cracking when assembling with meat.) Lay warmed tortillas in a bowl and keep warm. Add more oil to the pan as necessary.
Fill corn tortillas with shredded wild turkey mixture before frying. (Jenny Nguyen photo)
4. Fill warmed tortillas with about 2 tablespoons of the shredded turkey mixture and fold over the tortilla, gently pressing down the taco to encourage it to keep its shape. Lay tacos on a cookie sheet and repeat. Once all tacos are assembled, place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator to firm up for 30 minutes. (Tacos can also be assembled ahead of time and fried later.)
Fried wild turkey leg chipotle tacos in skillet. (Jenny Nguyen photo)
5. In a cast iron skillet, heat enough oil to 350 degrees F to shallow fry tacos—do not fill your cooking vessel more than 1/3 of the way up to prevent oil from boiling over. Once oil is heated, gently lay cold tacos into the oil and fry for 2 to 3 minutes on both sides; do not overcrowd the pan and be careful for splatter. Remove the fried tacos with tongs and tip to drain out excess oil—there will be lots. Rest on paper towels.
Once the fried tacos are cool enough to handle, top them off with lettuce and cheese. (Jenny Nguyen photo)
6. Once tacos are cool enough to handle, carefully open up the tacos and fill with shredded romaine lettuce and cheddar cheese. Serve with your favorite hot sauce.