If you’ve ever been to Disney World, you might have noticed the smell before you ever laid eyes on one, that delicious, siren song drawing you forward. It probably didn’t take long before you figured out what it was. After all, there’s nothing subtle about the smoked turkey leg. Much maligned by its critics but loved by many, Disney’s smoked turkey leg is one part of the holy trinity of Disney theme park food that also includes the Dole Whip and the Mickey Bar. And no, it’s not really Emu.
There’s something barbaric about gnawing on a giant turkey leg and walking through a public place, but it seems to work at Disney World in much the same way that walking down Bourbon Street at 11:00 in the morning with a fruity adult beverage seems to work. Nonetheless, I was a little shy about eating one. You mostly see men eating them for one thing because, let’s be honest, men don’t care if they look like savages. In fact, it probably makes them feel more, I don’t know, manly, like they’re connecting with their caveman past. Women however, even women like me who tend to have the sense of humor of a 12-year old boy, don’t want to appear too unladylike while eating and devouring a Flintsone-sized piece of poultry doesn’t exacly bring to mind images of Junior League ladies and watercress sandwiches.
Still, I’d been eyeing the turkey leg for some time and finally took the plunge on a recent trip with some mom friends and our kids, figuring that my husband wouldn’t be there to document it on film and mock me forever. Predictably, when I came back from the counter of the Tocluca Legs Turkey Co., my friend Kelly said to me, her eyes widening, “You’re going to eat that?” “Yes,” I replied, “want some?” She demurred and I was left to follow her down Sunset Boulevard, eating my gigantic turkey leg as I went.
What can I say? It was delicious. Smokey, juicy, tender and oh so tasty. It reminded me of a turkey I’d had one thanksgiving that had been carefully smoked overnight by a barbeque pro, not, as I was expecting, something that had been mass produced in a large industrial kitchen. But where, I wondered, did they find such large turkeys that produced such massive legs? One Thanksgiving, when I was first learning to cook and was reading everything I could find in an effort to cook the perfect turkey, I remember reading that the legs of turkeys that weigh over twenty pounds tend to be very tough because the bird was just not meant to support that large of a body. In fact, larger turkeys are actually the result of a lot of scientific hoodoo that includes, amont other things, a lot of hormones, the result of which is a larger, but not necessarily more flavorful, turkey. Nonetheless, this turkey leg managed to be both huge and delicious. I decided not to think about it.
I only got about halfway through the turkey leg (I considered stretching the truth a bit and saying that I only had a couple of bites, but we’re friends, right?) before I decided to toss it, but I think if you’re really hungry and you want a quick, inexpensive snack that isn’t the usual park fare, this might be a nice alternative. Particularly if you want to get in touch with your inner caveman.
Gigantic turkey legs are available in all four parks for $9 and some change. Turkey legs are considered a counter service credit under the Disney Dining Plan.
Gigantic turkey leg recipe here.