Roots

Smoked Turkey Wings and White Bean Dressing

Drizzling gravy over smoked turkey wings
Image by Jon Cherry

Pinto beans with ham hocks or gumbo with dirty rice regularly graced Lawrence Weeks’ family table growing up thanks to his grandmother. Now as the chef of North of Bourbon in Louisville, he updates her staple meal plan with smoked turkey wings smothered in white bean gravy. “It’s the perfect combo,” Weeks says. “Like a warm hug.”

Make sure to start brining the turkey wings a day in advance. We recommend enjoying the results with an ice-cold pilsner. 

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yields

Serves 4 to 6

    For the turkey wings:
  • 1 cup salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 6 turkey wings
  • 1 gallon chicken stock
  • For the white bean gravy:
  • 2 cups butter
  • ½ pound chicken giblets
  • 3¾ cups flour
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups cooked white beans
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 3 dashes of Tabasco
steps
  1. Prep the turkey 1 day in advance: Combine salt and sugar and rub over turkey wings. Let sit in refrigerator uncovered overnight. When ready to prepare wings, rinse off brine and pat dry with a paper towel. Let sit uncovered in fridge for 1 hour to dry skin.
  2. Prepare a smoker: Light hardwood or charcoal smoker and adjust heat until it reaches 290 degrees. Place wings in smoker and let smoke for 2 hours. Transfer wings from smoker to a braising pan and add 1 gallon chicken stock. Place braising pan back in smoker for another 3 to 4 hours, checking every 30 minutes for tenderness. Turkey should be extremely tender without completely falling off the bone. Remove braising pan from smoker and carefully remove wings from liquid to a sheet pan; reserve smoked chicken stock for later use (or use for your next batch of white bean gravy). Set wings aside.
  3. Make the white bean gravy: In a medium saucepot, melt butter until foamy and add chicken giblets; cook over medium heat until browned on all sides. Remove giblets and set aside. Whisk flour into saucepot and stir constantly over medium-low heat until roux reaches the color of a milk chocolate bar.
  4. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper to pot and stir until translucent. Add dried spices and toast for 1 minute, then whisk in milk and chicken stock until smooth. Reduce heat to low and simmer until flour flavor is completely cooked out, about 15 minutes, whisking every few minutes to ensure sauce doesn’t scorch on bottom of pot.
  5. While sauce is simmering, chop giblets into bite-sized pieces. Add giblets, white beans, salt, and Tabasco to pot and stir to combine.
  6. When ready to serve, preheat broiler. Place turkey wings under broiler for 3 to 4 minutes until wings are golden brown, flipping once. To serve, ladle white bean gravy into a bowl and serve with a turkey wing on top.
  • Recipe By
    Chef Lawrence Weeks of North of Bourbon in Louisville, Kentucky
  • Contributing City
    Louisville
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