[Chip] On most days, when I am finished with my 9-to-5 job, I like to break free of the office and go out for drinks and general debauchery. What better way to forget a crumby work day than to be outside and consume several adult beverages? But sometimes, even a faux-Mexican themed restaurant with two-dollar cervezas can’t cheer me up; sometimes, I just want to go home and relax. On these nights, Laura and I are faced with a decision: order food to be delivered to our apartment (read: total sloth), or actually make a new recipe and have a Stay-at-Home Date Night. This week, we chose the latter, mainly due to the discovery of pre-smoked turkey legs at our local Whole Foods.
[Laura] I am a very lazy cook. It’s true. I don’t deny it. I am happy to throw something in the oven to cook for hours while I do something else. I think this makes me an efficient multi-tasker. (Yes. That’s it.) This is actually a common Friday Night Date for us. Smoked turkey legs make a simple dinner, however it does take around 2 hours to prepare. So when you get home from work, just toss everything in the oven and in a couple of hours, you will have one of the most delicious reasons to never become a vegetarian. And while you are waiting, enjoy a beer or two. It’s good to get all the hedonism out at once before the next day’s self-recrimination and the inevitable march to the treadmill.
Allow me to share a dietary preference with you: I don’t care for turkey, not even at Thanksgiving. It is a dry meat, with little to offer in the way of diverse or satisfying taste, and thanks to constantly being paired with stuffing and gravy, turkey seems to have very few recipe options. In fact, before I attended the Maryland Renaissance Festival, I thought I had eaten turkey in all of its forms (which are: on a sandwich, doused with gravy, and hidden under mashed potatoes). As I wandered around the woods in Crownsville, I noticed fair-goers carrying gigantic legs of smoked meat, much like the food I saw in films with dragons (and video games with vampires). I inquired as to the mystery meat’s identity, and discovered it was none other than my old nemesis, turkey. I figured I would give the bird a taste, one more chance to prove itself. By smoking the meat, the turkey acquires a whole new savory dynamic, and the aesthetic of ripping the flesh from a giant animal leg appeals to my Germanic heritage quite nicely.
Smoked Turkey Legs
There are a number of recipes for smoked turkey legs. However, we simply buy them pre-packaged because we are
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F.
Place two pre-packaged turkey legs in a baking dish with enough water to submerge the turkey half-way.
Cover with foil.
Bake for an hour. Flip them. Bake for another hour.
Olive oil Roasted Potatoes
We normally throw these in the oven above the turkey legs. While they cook they absorb a lot of the smoky flavor of the turkey. Really, you can’t beat meat-flavored veggies.
4 peeled golden yukon potatoes (This type of potato works best for this recipe)
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Generously coat each potato with olive oil.
Wrap each individual potato in tin foil.
Bake for 2 hours.
Remove from oven and allow to cool before unwrapping.
Two hours is a lot of time to wait for dinner, so we usually have a bit of bread and cheese to tide us over. This also a wonderful time to start sampling your beer. A themed meal is a great excuse to get fancy and have video game/beer pairings. It just adds a certain level of sophistication to the event. Below we’ve listed a few examples of games, movies, and TV shows to add a bit of atmosphere to the evening.
- Game of Thrones – I love Game of Thrones. Possibly because it’s a great, well-constructed masterpiece, but it’s more likely that I’ve invested what seems like half of my life to reading the books. The HBO adaptation is pretty good, if not entirely (or even remotely at times) accurate to the books.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail – This very accurate representation of the Arthurian Legend is a perfect pairing to any medieval meal. The strict historical standard at which the actors portray brave knights running about while banging two empty halves of coconut together compliment stuffing your face with a comically sized turkey leg quite well.
Castle Crashers – If you are looking for a frantic co-op experience to share, this is an excellent choice. The art style is cute, while the strange and silly characters keep the game lighthearted and fun (despite numerous decapitations). For this title, Laura provided New Belgium’s 1554 Black Ale; a delicious dark beer that is described as “quite quaffable.”
Skyrim – If you want to depart slightly from the realm of medieval England and you don’t mind a single player game, Skyrim isn’t a bad game to play into the wee hours of dawn either. We paired this beer with Norse Legend from the Samuel Adams brewery…for the obvious reason.
And there you have it: a Date Night fit for a king (HA!). We hope that this post will inspire you, and remember: you don’t always have to get all dressed up and go out (and spend ridiculous amounts of money) to have a fantastic night with your sweetheart.