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Smoked and Sous Vide Wild Turkey Wings

Smoked and Sous Vide Wild Turkey Wings

Cooked wild turkey wings rest on a plate.

Stop throwing out those wild turkey wings! Tenderize the tough cuts with a low-and-slow method before finishing them on a smoker or grill

In my talks with successful turkey hunters so far this spring, all have admitted they saved the breasts. A couple mentioned they kept the thighs and legs. Zero of those polled said they saved the wings.

Yes, the harder-working cuts like thighs, legs, and wings require some serious time and some serious TLC to tenderize before they’re edible. But they are, indeed, and, in the case of wings, they are something special if prepared properly.

Truth be told, while I pluck most of my upland birds and waterfowl, I will skin my wild turkeys—everything other than the wings. I will take the time to pull out the feathers from them, and, yes, it does take some time, but it’s so worth it for the flavor that resides in this skin and how it keeps these cuts from drying out during the cooking process.

Why not pluck other parts of a wild turkey? You certainly can, but I’ve found that most of my spring longbeards come with thin leathery skin on the breasts. It hasn’t seemed worth the effort, but that’s my take. Because the skin on thighs and legs turns to gelatin during required low-and-slow cooking methods, I rarely bother plucking those either. That doesn’t mean you can’t, this is just my personal spring routine for these birds.

In this recipe, I am sharing a method for tenderizing tough cuts. This particular method requires a sous vide cooker. But what is a sous vide? Simply, a vertical cooking device with heating coils at the bottom that regulate the temperature of a water bath to a decimal point of a degree. It’s designed for precise, longer-term cooking. When meat is sealed and added to the bath, the pressure of the water and its consistent temperature slowly cook that meat for a final tender product. In the case of tough wild turkey cuts, over many hours, collagen breaks down at a low temperature resulting in fork-tender meat. Smoking it after helps firm up the meat, adding some texture while also imbuing it with additional flavor.

But you don’t absolutely need a sous vide cooker for this recipe. Below, I also share how to make delicious wings in your oven. And perhaps you don’t have or want a smoker. If that’s the case, follow the directions below and sear your wings over a hot grill instead of smoking for the final step.

In terms of what barbecue sauce to use, that choice is up to you, but I drizzled on some Beard Butcher Blend BBQ Sauce. If you’re feeling spicy, you could mix your favorite BBQ sauce with chili paste or something like Buffalo Wild Wing’s Mango Habanero sauce.

Cooked wild turkey wings rest on a plate.

Smoked and Sous Vide Wild Turkey Wings

Jack Hennessy
Stop throwing out those wild turkey wings! Tenderize those tough cuts with a low-and-slow method before finishing them on a smoker or grill.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 2 people
Calories 33 kcal

Equipment

  • Smoker (or grill)
  • Sous vide cooker optional

Ingredients
  

Sous vide method

  • Wings from a wild turkey (drumettes and flats)
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic smashed
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • White wine
  • Sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage
  • Olive oil
  • Favorite barbecue sauce
  • Finely minced chives or sliced scallions

Oven method

  • Wings from a wild turkey (drumettes and flats)
  • 6 ribs of celery chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 bulb of fresh garlic peeled and smashed
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • White wine
  • Chicken stock enough to cover turkey meat

Instructions
 

  • Lightly salt and pepper all sides of turkey wings and seal in a sous vide bag with fresh herb sprigs, smashed fresh garlic, a dash of white wine, and olive oil. Sous vide at 180 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-14 hours. If cooking domestic turkey wings, you can cut that time in half.
  • If simmering in a baking dish in an oven, lightly salt and pepper all sides of turkey wings and cover with a bit of white wine and chicken stock, then add all other ingredients. Cook at 275 F for 3-4 hours until tender. If cooking domestic turkey wings, 2 hours should be enough to tenderize.
  • Upon removing from sous vide or oven, smoke at 200 F for 2 hours. Remove and toss through your favorite barbecue sauce and garnish with finely minced chives or sliced scallions. Enjoy!

Notes

*Nutrition values vary by cooking method. 

Nutrition

Calories: 33kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 13mgPotassium: 136mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 62IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 29mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Wild Turkey
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