Wild Turkey Chili Verde


Loaded with tomatillos and spices and finished with fresh oregano, this Green Chili is always popular when it hits the table. By making a base liquid to slowly braise the turkey leg in, the chili is a great way to use the tough part of the bird. The best part about making a long braised dish like this is that it only requires a little bit of prep to put everything together, then you can step out of the kitchen while the chili cooks away. 

Yield: 6-8 portions

Prep time: 30

Total time: 4-10 hours


  • 1-2 wild turkey legs, separated into drums and thighs
  • Neutral oil, for cooking
  • 1 onion, largely diced
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper; substitute with anaheims or any other green chili that’s available 
  • 1 or 2 canned chipotle chilis
  • 1 28-oz can tomatillos, drained; or you can use about ½ a pound fresh ones. Soak them in warm water, peel off the skin, and cut into halves or quarters
  • About 1 quart chicken or turkey stock, or water; to cover
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 or 2 sprigs fresh oregano
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Put a large heavy bottomed pot on low heat and season the turkey legs generously with salt. Allow them to rest and absorb the salt for 5-10 minutes while you get the rest of the ingredients together. Once the salt has had a chance to stick to the legs, turn the heat up to high and sear the legs on all sides until they have a nice dark brown crust all over.
  2. Once the legs are seared, remove them from the pan, set aside and discard the oil. It’s important to leave any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom. In the same pot over medium heat, add a splash of oil and start to cook the onion, garlic, jalapeno, and green pepper. Add a healthy pinch of salt and stir occasionally, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
  3. Put the tomatillos and chipotle chilis in a blender and pulse to break up the tomatillos, leaving them a little chunky. Once the vegetables have started to caramelize the bottom of the pan, add the tomatillo mixture and continue scraping the bottom.
  4. Toast the spices in a small pan over medium low heat until they are fragrant. Use a mortar and pestle or an old coffee grinder to then crush the spices. Add them to the pot along with the sprigs of oregano.
  5. Add the turkey legs and stock or water to the pot, you only need enough liquid to cover the legs, and bring everything to a simmer. Check and adjust the seasoning with salt. Once the chili comes up to a simmer, cover it and place in a 250 degree oven to braise until the meat is tender and pulls away from the bone easily; about 4-10 hours, depending on the bird. You can also do this step over low heat right on the burner or throw everything into a Crock Pot and set it to low. A pressure cooker also works, but the chili will taste better if it cooks slowly over low heat.
  6. Once the turkey is ready, remove the leg and oregano stems from the pot.  Discard the oregano and pull the meat off the bone once it’s cool enough to touch. Then add the meat back to the chili, and adjust the seasoning if it needs it. 
  7. The Chili Verde is ready for the table, but like any other slow cooked stew, it will get better and better if you can let it sit for a couple hours or even overnight. Serve your Chili with any toppings you like. I suggest going with chopped cilantro, chunks of avocado and warm tortillas on the side.

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