I never liked dark turkey meat growing up, and then I didn't eat commercially raised meat for 14 years. Now I eat only our homegrown turkeys, and it took me a long time to bring myself to try the dark meat, because I remember thinking that it tasted terrible. After writing about heritage turkeys a couple weeks ago, a light bulb went on in my head. Why do we treat dark turkey meat as if it were the same as the breast meat? It's different! Not all chicken recipes work equally well with dark and white meat, so why should we expect to be able to just dig into a turkey leg or thigh as if it were a piece of breast meat?
So, Jonathan and I got crazy with the two turkey legs we had in the refrigerator. We looked for recipes that worked well with pork, beef, and chicken, thinking that they should also transfer well to the dark turkey meat. And we were right! The first thing we did was a pineapple chicken recipe using a turkey leg and thigh that had been cooked in simmering water much like we cook a stew hen. The next day we made turkey and mushrooms with gravy. As you can see from the picture of the pineapple turkey, it looks a lot like chipped beef, and I really thought that it tasted more like beef than any other type of meat. If we had added a chopped green pepper, it would have tasted like a pepper steak recipe from a Chinese cookbook.
I'm kind of embarrassed to say that I used to cringe at the thought of having to deal with the dark meat on a turkey, and most of the time, I'd stick it in left-over containers, and my husband would take it to work for his lunch. But those days are gone! Now I'm excited about trying other beef and pork recipes with my turkey legs. I'll no longer think of it as second fiddle to the breast meat. It's uniquely delicious and is just as versatile as the breast meat. In fact, I'm starting to think I might actually like the dark meat more.
For more posts on real food, check out Fight Back Friday, and for more recipes, see Foodie Friday.