Turkey drumsticks are a delicious and budget-friendly protein option that can be easily cooked in a crockpot. Slow cooking the drumsticks in a crockpot offers an array of benefits, including convenience, time-saving, and unparalleled tenderness. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know to cook perfect turkey drumsticks in your crockpot.
Why crockpot cooking is ideal for turkey drumsticks
Crockpot cooking has become increasingly popular in recent years as an effortless way to prepare hassle-free meals. This method of cooking allows you to set it and forget it while the crockpot does all the work for you. One of the benefits of crockpot cooking is the low heat settings that evenly cook the meat, ensuring that it is perfectly tender and juicy.
When it comes to turkey drumsticks, crockpot cooking is an ideal method because it allows the meat to cook slowly and absorb all the flavors of the seasonings and vegetables added to the pot. Additionally, the low heat setting prevents the meat from drying out, which can often happen when cooking turkey drumsticks in the oven. With crockpot cooking, you can also easily make a delicious gravy from the juices that accumulate in the pot, making it a perfect option for a hassle-free Thanksgiving dinner.
The benefits of slow cooking turkey drumsticks in a crockpot
Slow cooking turkey drumsticks in a crockpot has many advantages. One of the most significant benefits is that the low heat settings used in a crockpot help to break down the connective tissues and cartilage in the meat, making it incredibly tender and juicy. This method of cooking is also incredibly efficient, allowing you to cook large amounts of meat while using minimal energy.
Another benefit of slow cooking turkey drumsticks in a crockpot is that it allows for a hands-off cooking experience. Once you have prepared the ingredients and set the crockpot, you can leave it to cook for several hours without needing to check on it. This makes it a great option for busy days or when you have other tasks to attend to. Additionally, slow cooking in a crockpot allows for the flavors of the ingredients to meld together, resulting in a delicious and flavorful dish.
Preparing the turkey drumsticks for crockpot cooking
The first and most crucial step is to ensure that you have properly thawed the turkey drumsticks. Once thawed, rinse the turkey legs under cold running water and then pat dry with paper towels. Next, remove any excess fat, skin or loose pieces of meat to give the drumsticks a streamlined shape for even cooking. Take this opportunity to sprinkle the drumsticks with salt and pepper and any additional spices or herbs that you desire.
After seasoning the drumsticks, you can choose to sear them in a hot skillet for a few minutes on each side to add extra flavor and texture. This step is optional but highly recommended for a more delicious end result. Once seared, place the drumsticks in the crockpot and add any vegetables or liquids that you want to cook with them.
It is important to note that turkey drumsticks should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F to ensure that they are safe to eat. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature and adjust the cooking time accordingly. Once fully cooked, let the drumsticks rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute and the meat to become more tender.
Choosing the right size and type of crockpot for turkey drumsticks
Choosing the right size and type of crockpot is crucial when cooking turkey drumsticks. The crockpot should be large enough to fit all the drumsticks without overcrowding them, which can prevent them from cooking evenly. A 6-quart crockpot is ideal for cooking six to eight turkey drumsticks; this size is sufficient to hold the turkey legs comfortably. Ensure that your crockpot has a tight-fitting lid that enables the steam to build up to cook the meat effectively.
Another important factor to consider when choosing a crockpot for turkey drumsticks is the type of crockpot. There are two types of crockpots: manual and programmable. Manual crockpots have a simple on/off switch and temperature control, while programmable crockpots have digital controls that allow you to set the cooking time and temperature. If you plan to cook turkey drumsticks for an extended period, a programmable crockpot is a better option as it allows you to set the cooking time and temperature and then automatically switches to the warm setting once the cooking is complete.
It is also essential to prepare the turkey drumsticks correctly before placing them in the crockpot. You should rinse the drumsticks under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. Then, season the drumsticks with your preferred spices and herbs before placing them in the crockpot. You can also add vegetables such as onions, carrots, and celery to the crockpot to enhance the flavor of the turkey drumsticks.
Seasoning and flavoring options for turkey drumsticks in crockpot
One of the best things about cooking turkey drumsticks in a crockpot is that they take on flavors well. You can season turkey drumsticks with anything from garlic to fresh herbs and spices like cumin, coriander or paprika. Choose seasonings that complement the flavors and create a crust that will give the drumsticks an added texture. You can also place vegetables like onion slices as a bed for the turkey drumsticks to provide extra flavor and nutrition.
Another great way to add flavor to turkey drumsticks in a crockpot is to use marinades. You can make a simple marinade using ingredients like soy sauce, honey, and ginger, or try a more complex marinade with ingredients like balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, and rosemary. Marinating the turkey drumsticks for a few hours before cooking will infuse them with flavor and make them even more tender. Don't forget to baste the drumsticks with the juices in the crockpot to keep them moist and flavorful throughout the cooking process.
Step-by-step guide to cooking turkey drumsticks in a crockpot
Now that you have your crockpot ready and your turkey drumsticks prepared, it's time to start cooking. Follow these simple steps to ensure that your turkey drumsticks come out tender, juicy, and flavorful.
- Add the prepared drumsticks to the crockpot, making sure none of them are stacked on top of each other.
- Set your crockpot to low and cook for 6-8 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, as per USDA recommendations.
- Allow the drumsticks to rest in the crockpot for around 10-15 minutes to help retain moisture and flavor before serving.
Tips for ensuring moist and tender turkey drumsticks from the crockpot
There are a few things to keep in mind when cooking turkey drumsticks in a crockpot.
- Avoid overcrowding the crockpot. This will ensure that the meat cooks evenly.
- Do not remove the lid during cooking. This will prevent the heat and steam from escaping, ensuring that the meat stays moist.
- Let the meat rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the drumsticks.
How to make a flavorful gravy from the juices in the crockpot
To make a flavorful gravy from the juices in the crockpot, remove the turkey drumsticks from the crockpot and transfer the juices to a small saucepan. Bring the juices to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk together around 2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch and enough water to form a slurry. Slowly add the slurry to the simmering juices while whisking, until thickened to your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serving suggestions and meal ideas for crockpot cooked turkey drumsticks
Crockpot cooked turkey drumsticks can be served in various ways, including with mashed potatoes, salad, and gravy. You can shred the meat and use it for sandwiches or tacos or serve it whole alongside some roasted root vegetables.
Time and temperature guidelines for slow cooking turkey drumsticks in a crockpot
The general rule of thumb when slow cooking turkey drumsticks in a crockpot is six to eight hours on low heat. This will ensure that the meat is fully cooked and incredibly tender without getting stringy or dry.
How to store leftover cooked turkey drumsticks safely
To store leftover cooked turkey drumsticks safely, refrigerate them within two hours of cooking in a tightly sealed container. They will keep for up to four days in the refrigerator. If you have more leftovers than you can eat within that time, simply freeze the drumsticks in an airtight container for up to four months.
Frequently asked questions about cooking turkey drumsticks in a crockpot
Q: Can I cook turkey drumsticks from frozen in a crockpot?
A: No, it is not recommended to cook turkey drumsticks from frozen in a crockpot. This is due to the fact that the meat may not cook evenly or reach a safe temperature.Q: Can I use chicken drumsticks instead of turkey in a crockpot?
A: Yes, you can use chicken drumsticks instead of turkey in a crockpot. Adjust the cooking time accordingly, as chicken drumsticks usually take less time to cook than turkey drumsticks.Q: How can I make the skin crispy on the turkey drumsticks cooked in a crockpot?
A: To make the skin crispy, you can cook the turkey drumsticks in the broiler for a few minutes after their time in the crockpot is complete. This will crisp up the skin while still retaining the moisture and tenderness of the meat.
Troubleshooting Common Issues When Cooking Turkey Drumsticks in a Crockpot
Issue: The meat is dry and overcooked.
Solution: Ensure that you are not cooking the turkey drumsticks for too long, as this can cause the meat to become dry and stringy. Also, avoid opening the lid during cooking as much as possible, as this can cause heat and steam to escape, which can affect the tenderness and moisture of the meat.Issue: The meat is not cooked all the way through.
Solution: First, ensure that the crockpot you are using is the correct size for the amount of meat you are cooking, as overcrowding can lead to uneven cooking. Also, check that the internal temperature of the drumsticks has reached 165°F, as per USDA recommendations, before removing them from the crockpot.
By following the guidelines listed in this article, you can easily prepare juicy, tender, and flavorful turkey drumsticks in your crockpot. Make sure to choose the right crockpot size, season the meat well, and keep an eye on the cook time and temperature, and you will have perfectly cooked turkey drumsticks to enjoy.