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Here is how I smoked turkey legs (drumsticks) yesterday. My daughter, a vocal food critic (unpublished), pronounced them as good as any you get at county or state fairs. As an equestrian she gets to lots of fairs.

I used 8 turkey legs. They weighed about 0.75 pounds apiece, so they were a bit on the small side. I bought them at Smith's, a local megamart, and according to the label they could have up to 2% retained water. I don't know if that meant they were injested with salt solution or not, but I figured with that small amount, it wouldn't hurt to brine some more.

Brine the legs. I used a simple brine.

1 gallon water
3/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup turbinado sugar (brown sugar will work as well, so will white, but white is so unimaginative :^)= If you use white you may want to put in a glug or two of molasses)

Heat a quart of water over the stove and slowly disolve the salt and sugar in the water. They will disolve quicker in the warm water. You don't need to heat it much. When they are disolved, remove from the heat and add to the rest of the water. This should result in a brine that is well mixed and at room temperature or cooler. The brine will look a bit brown, not unlike river water in the spring.

This is a good simple brine recipe to start with. If you like the drumsticks saltier, use 1 cup of salt. If you like it sweeter, increase the sugar to 3/4 cup. You can add other ingredients: diced onions, smooshed garlic, pepper, bay leaves, parsely, sage, rosemary, and thyme all will add to the flavor. You can substitute molasses or honey for the sugar, or soy sauce for some of the salt. But it is best to start out with the simple brine to see if it is what you like, and then start adding or subtracting ingredients to get it to taste that you prefer. Turkey legs are pretty cheap to experiment with. SmokinOkie's guide to poultry and brining are a good place to start and can be found here:


I brined the legs in gallon zip loc bags. Put 3 or 4 drumsticks in the bag, and add brine to cover. Seal the bag, folding the bag to get rid of the excess air. Put all the bags in a larger container or bag in the refrigerator so if they leak they don't leak over everything. They never leak when I do this.

I refrigerated the brining legs for 5 hours. Any time from 4 to 8 hours should be OK. If you use larger legs, you may wish to use the longer time.

I took the legs out of the refrigerator and rinsed them off, patted them dry with a paper towel, and arranged them on two racks in the Smokette 009. I inserted a thermometer probe into the meatiest part of the largest leg. Monitor the temperature every 15 minutes and write it down in a notebook.

The Smokette was set at 250 F and 2 chunks (4 oz) of wood was used. I used 250 F to minimize the time in the danger zone and in an attempt to crisp up the skin. The skin was still rubbery. I smoked some beans on the bottom rack, which I preheated in the oven for 30 minutes so the Smokette wouldn't have to heat up so much thermal mass. More on the beans below.

The legs took 2 and a half hours to get to 165 F. Anything above 160 F is fine. 160 F is well out of the danger zone, and if you go much higher, they start to get a bit dry. They are done at 160 F. I removed them from the smoker, wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a styrofoam chest for an hour until supper.

They were very good. I had 2. I now wish I had bought another 4 drumnsticks and made 12 while I was at it. At the time I was concerned that it wouldn't work out, and somewhat arbitrarily decided that my wife and I could eat 8 mistakes, but 12 mistakes was a bit much. :^)=

2 large (28 oz) cans Bush Beans
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup whiskey, I used Southern Comfort
1 onion diced
3 or 4 smooshed garlic cloves

Mix the beans and the other ingredients together in a disposable aluminum foil pan. Preheat in 300 degree oven for a half hour. Smoke on the bottom shelf under whatever you are smoking to collect the juices to further flavor the beans.

Preheating the beans before putting them in the smoker allows the smoker to come up to temperature faster, or to maintain smoker temperature if you add them in the middle of the smoke.

I have cooked these for 2.5 hours (turkey legs) up to 8 hours (pork butt). At 2.5 hours they are a bit soupy, and at 8 hours they were pretty thick. Both were delicous. The beans do stay intact even at the longer cooking times, so the texture is still there, thanks to the molasses.

You can leave out the onions and garlic if some don't like the flavor.
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