beer-braised turkey tacos

As I mentioned, I lately found my self in the mood for a fall fiesta, and what is more ‘fall’ – and November, precisely – than turkey?


Thankfully I recalled reading about these beer-braised turkey legs for tacos on The Kitchen Sink a while back, and it was one of those recipes that I immediately wanted to try.  But for some reason another, immediately didn’t.  Luckily, I didn’t forget it and instead stored it in the deep recesses of my surprisingly still-working brain, and after the pomegranate/lime bonanza at the Farmer’s Market, I pulled up this recipe on my trusty iPhone while at the store and bought all the ingredients.


Everything is better with beer!

And the best part?  Turkey legs are damn cheap!!! We are talking $3 for two pounds (2 drumsticks – more than enough for dinner for 4) at Whole Foods.  $3 total.  And this is high turkey season!

The recipe itself is easy and straightforward.  Brown (the turkey), sauté (the onions, garlic, jalapeños), add (tomatoes, cinnamon and chipotles) and braise (the whole lot).  Finally shred, combine and ENJOY!


Especially if enjoying means have at the fixins’!  I know I have declared my love for toppings before.  I just can’t help it.  I love to pile high and customize!!

Taco Fixins'

We went with homemade (& grown!) salsa verde, avocado, sliced cabbage, radishes, cilantro, lime and my FAVORITE chipotle-lime-cream.  I could put that stuff on paper and it would taste good!  (The black beans with cojita were another side).

Suffice it to say, the turkey tacos were a hit!  And bonus, the next night for a quick bite before another soiree, we reheated the turkey and had it on top of whole-wheat couscous.  The cinnamon in the mix gave it a decidedly Morroccan feel (particularly with the couscous) and I would say that preserved lemons would be quite lovely with this – to take it in a more Bedouin-than-Mexican direction.

But whatever the direction, I am loving this new direction for turkey – and think you will too!!

Beer Braised Turkey for Tacos


Beer-Braised Turkey Tacos

Minimally Adapted from Food & Wine via The Kitchen Sink Recipes

Yield: 12 tacos (or about 4 servings)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Two 1-pound bone-in turkey thighs or drumsticks, skin and fat removed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 medium white onion, cut into 1-inch dice
1 large oregano sprig
1 large jalapeño—stemmed, seeded and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
1 28-ounce can chopped tomato (the original called for 14.5 oz can, but I wanted a bit more sauce)
1 ancho chile—stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped or torn (we substituted a 1 chipotle in adobe, chopped – for some heat)
One 2-inch cinnamon stick
One 12-ounce bottle Mexican dark beer, such as Modelo Negro (any other dark or Mexican beer you have on hand would work, such as Pacifico)
1 cup water

12 corn or flour tortillas
your favorite toppings (i.e. cilantro, sliced radish, minced onion, cabbage, etc.)

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season the turkey with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until richly browned all over, about 8 minutes. Transfer the turkey to a plate.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the casserole along with the garlic, diced onion, oregano and jalapeño and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato, ancho/chipotle and cinnamon stick and cook, stirring, until the tomato releases its juices.

Return the turkey to the casserole, add the beer and water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat, turning once, until the turkey thighs are tender, about 1 hour. Transfer the turkey to a plate and let cool. Discard the oregano sprig and cinnamon stick and boil the sauce over high heat until reduced to by half, about 12 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Wrap the tortillas in foil and bake for about 8 minutes, until softened and heated through.

Remove the turkey meat and shred it. Transfer the sauce to a food processor and puree (optional). Return the sauce to the pot and stir in the shredded turkey. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the turkey onto the tortillas. Top with your favorites and serve.