My latest recipe is a lighter version of Mexican-style Pork Carnitas. I often look for Pork Carnitas being slow-cooked by street vendors, like Leo's Taco Truck, in a Los Angeles alley or sidewalk. I just pull over and get in line for a luscious Carnitas taco after being on the town late at night. Hey, with my easy-to-make Mexican Cola Turkey Carnitas recipe, you can cut in line and have a taco or burrito anytime!
I flavor my Turkey Carnitas with orange lemon juice, too. So make sure to reserve some of the simmering sauce to pour on the turkey meat just before serving.
For my recipe, I use two dark meat drumsticks, that weigh about a pound each. They are often on sale and as cheap as chicken. For extra-tender and juicy Turkey Carnitas, dark-leg meat is the way to go, you can use thigh meat or even turkey wings. For Turkey Carnitas during the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays, the sales are on full blast!
Theirs seems to be drier than my fresh-made, but that could be the result of hours under heating lamps - which do give Turkey Carnitas an extra crispy edge. To get that I just bake some cooked meat in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to get some crunchy bits.
I flavor Turkey Carnitas with typical spices and herbs that Pork Carnitas also use. The most important ones are cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. Extra spices include thyme, bay leaf, and chopped or dried onion - so if you don't have those, it's okay to leave them out.
The trick is to slow-cook or braise the turkey legs in the water and/or broth for 2 to 3 hours until tender. With Pork Carnitas, pork shoulder is used which has fatty skin and marbling. They are slow-cooked in their rendered fat, for that luscious flavor.
My Turkey Carnitas are lean and mean since there is little fat in turkey legs. I do leave the skin on, but you could take it off. Since turkey is much more pungent than pork, this helps make up for the extra fatty flavor you get with typical Pork Carnitas. And two turkey legs will feed the whole family!
Flour and corn tortillas are cheap these days, too. All I do is add a little oil to a pan and heat them up for a minute - stack them on a plate and cover with a paper towel to keep warm.
You can use your favorite jar of salsa for your taco topping. If you like your tacos gringo-style then chop some tomato, and iceberg lettuce, and open a bag of shredded cheddar cheese. Or kick it up a notch and click on any of the following salsa names to get my homemade recipes: Roasted Salsa Verde (tomatillo,) Red Chili (2 dried types - but the same recipe,) Pico de Gallo, Mango, and an Avocado Crema.
My cheap$kate recipe is easy to make, just turkey legs and a few spices and herbs that are slow-cooked so all you need is a little patience, and the payoff is big time. And I use dried herbs and spices, so you don't even have to chop anything. Hey, if you don't like sugary cola then leave that out too!
So if you're looking for a dish to serve at your next taco party then try out my Mexican Cola Turkey Carnitas. Let your guests do all the work and build their own. Just set out some chopped onion, cilantro, and your fave salsa, oh, and kick it up a notch with some sliced avocado.
- 2 Turkey Legs - about 2 to 3 pounds total. Okay to use thighs or wings. Use a turkey breast too, although it's a bit drier to my taste.
- 1 Mexican Cola - 12 ounces. Okay to use any bottle or can of your favorite cola.
- Orange Juice - 1/2 cup store-bought, frozen, or fresh-squeezed.
- Lemon Juice - juice of 1 whole lemon.
- Oregano - 1 teaspoon dried or fresh.
- Dried Onion - 1 tablespoon. Okay to use a 1/2 chopped onion.
- Dried Garlic - 1 tablespoon. Okay to use fresh chopped garlic.
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Salt and Pepper to taste.