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, and I have.
Anyone can simply smoke turkey legs and they are wonderful, BUT, the turkey legs served on Disney properties are cured and this is a special process that produces a special taste. Disney legs are injected with a curing solution with a special 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 they sell more drinks!
Curing is very different from any other recipe because it uses a preservative, sodium nitrite. You must read and thoroughly understand my article on the Science Of Curing Meats before attempting to cure meat or before you ask any questions.
For reference, 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. Most legs I have seen in stores are closer to 1 pound each. This recipe brines/cures in a zipper bag for a few days so you don’t have to inject and so you can make a small quantity. You just need to move the legs around in the bag periodically to make sure the cure is in contact with all parts of the meat.
Published On: 2/1/2015 Last Modified: 4/6/2021