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“Hickory-Smoked Wild Turkey Leg Philly”: “Braising the Wild” with Jack Hennessy

"Hickory-Smoked Wild Turkey Leg Philly" recipe in "Braising the Wild" from Jack Hennessy.
Credit: Jack Hennessy

A stunningly beautiful sandwich recipe comes from Jack Hennessy in “Braising the Wild,” that wonderful recipe addition to the expanded outdoors section in Sports Saturday in the Sun-Times on Saturday.

I grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania, where Philly cheesesteaks came from and I find it amazing that they now have become a creative food item. That led to an interesting exchange with Hennessy.

Hennessy also gives some more tips on handling wild turkey.

Hickory-Smoked Wild Turkey Leg Philly

The greatest sin a successful turkey hunter can commit is throwing away the legs and/or thighs. One excuse hunters give when they do: the legs are too tough and not worth it.

[Insert obnoxiously loud buzzer sound here]. Wrong!

It is true: Wings, thighs and legs of a turkey can be tough when cooked like one would breast meat. With this recipe, I’ll show you how to use that leg and thigh meat for an amazing hickory-smoked Philly.

Some notes: Some hunters separate their thighs from the legs as the thighs may tenderize quicker. I don’t usually bother with this, since once the legs are ready, so are the thighs. Because I start out with a dry heat here, a greater amount of time is required to braise these legs back to tender, succulent, flavorful life. Some wild cooks start off by braising their legs or wings and THEN smoke them. I’ll discuss this technique at a later time.

Please note you are welcome to use whatever smoking method you prefer. When I created this recipe, I only had a Weber charcoal grill so I layered wet hickory chips over my coals and kept all vents mostly closed. The biggest takeaway here: Smoke for 2-3 hours, followed by a full day of braising. Don’t count on enjoying this sandwich for dinner unless you plan to wake up well ahead of sunrise.

  1. Lightly salt and pepper legs and thighs then smoke with hickory chips or chunks for 3 hours at 220 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place in a Crockpot with 2 cups each of chicken stock and apple juice. Add three large gloves of freshly minced garlic and 2 tablespoons of Sambal chili paste. Cook for 6 hours on high then a minimum 6 hours on low, until meat is tender. Feel welcome to pull meat off bone as you along to facilitate tenderizing.
  3. Pull all meat off bone, shred and set aside.
  4. When ready to make Philly sandwich, in a large skillet with very thin layer of vegetable oil heated on medium-high, sear red bell and poblano peppers and onions cut julienne until slightly charred, add sliced mushrooms, followed by turkey meat.
  5. Cut open a French baguette and smother both sides with special mayo: 1/2 cup mayo, 1 tablespoon each of barbecue sauce and honey mustard, 1/2 teaspoon creamy horseradish and light sprinkling of salt and pepper.
  6. Pile turkey and pepper mix atop bottom bun, top with provolone cheese and toast in oven with broiler setting.

Any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram: @WildGameJack.