A turkey drumstick should not be thought of just as that part of a whole roasted bird most commonly fought over at the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table. These legs can often be bought individually at any time of year and served up in a virtually endless number of imaginative and tasty ways. This cold salad is ideally suited for preparing on a hot summer's day or night and is perfect served with some fresh bread, an olive oil based dip for the bread and plenty of cold beer or white wine.

Cold Turkey and Couscous Summer Salad
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Cold turkey and couscous summer salad with egg and cilantro

If the turkey leg you intend using is frozen, it is imperative that it be fully defrosted before it is cooked. This should be done in a deep dish to contain the defrosting juices in the bottom of your refrigerator over a period of twenty-four hours, with the leg covered with foil or plastic wrap. Remove the leg from the fridge an hour before it is to be cooked to allow it to come up to room temperature.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

Defrosted Turkey Drumstick
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Turkey drumstick

  • 1 medium sized turkey drumstick
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup (approximately) fresh chicken stock
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro (coriander leaf), plus extra to garnish
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 8 ounce can chickpeas in water
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 3 inch piece English/hothouse cucumber


Oven Ready Drumstick
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Seasoned turkey leg is ready for the oven

Put your oven on to preheat to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6.

The best way to calculate the cooking time for the turkey leg is by knowing its weight. It has to be cooked for twenty minutes per pound plus a further twenty minutes. As this drumstick conveniently weighed in at exactly two pounds, the cooking time required was one hour. The leg should be seasoned with salt and pepper and laid on a deep roasting tray before being placed in to the hot oven for the allotted period of time.

Boiling Eggs
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Eggs are cooked by boiling them in water

While the turkey is roasting, add the two eggs to a pot of cold water and bring the water to a gentle simmer for ten minutes.

Cooling Eggs
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Eggs are cooled quickly in cold water

When the simmering time is up, take the pot to your sink and run cold water in to it to cool the eggs quickly. Leave them in the cold water until they are cool enough to handle. Crack the shells on a hard surface and carefully peel before re-submerging in fresh cold water for around fifteen minutes to cool them completely. This method of cooling the eggs quickly prevents discoloration forming around the yolks. Pat dry with kitchen paper, place in a small bowl and cover until required.

Roasted Drumstick
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Roasted turkey drumstick is removed from the oven

When the turkey is cooked, take it from the oven and pierce it with a skewer or fork at the thickest part to endure the juices run clear. If any traces of blood remain, cook for ten more minutes and test again. Lift to a large, deep plate, cover and leave for about an hour to rest and cool.

Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Couscous granules are added to a large bowl

Be careful when buying/preparing couscous to read fully the instructions on the pack. Some varieties require to be steeped for a number of hours prior to their final preparation. This variety did not require such treatment so was simply measured out in to a large glass bowl.

Stock added to Couscous
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Stock is poured in to bowl to comfortably cover couscous

Heat the chicken stock in a small saucepan until it reaches a boil. Pour over the couscous to cover to a depth of around half an inch. Cover and leave for ten minutes for the couscous to absorb all the liquid.

Washing Chickpeas
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Chickpeas are rinsed in cold water

Pour the chickpeas in to a colander in your sink and wash off the canning impurities under running cold water. Sit the colander aside to drain.

Cilantro and Smoked Garlic
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Cilantro and smoked garlic

The garlic used in this recipe is smoked garlic, which adds a delicious extra flavor to the dish but conventional garlic will work equally well.

Cilantro and Garlic added to Couscous
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Cilantro, garlic and lemon juice are added to couscous

The chopped cilantro and lemon juice should be added to the couscous. Peel the garlic clove and grate it in to the bowl with a small hand grater.

Forking Couscous
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Couscous is fluffed up with a fork

A fork is best used to fluff up the couscous and combine the cilantro and garlic at the same time. Cover the dish again and leave to cool completely.

Vegetables added to Couscous
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Tomatoes, cucumber and chickpeas are added to couscous

Tip the cooled couscous in to a large serving platter or dish. Cut the tomatoes in to wedges. Cut the cucumber in half along its length and thereafter in to chunks. Add to the couscous along with the chickpeas.

Stirring Salad
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Salad is stirred and spread out evenly in dish

Carefully mix everything together with a wooden spoon and spread evenly around the dish.

Carving Turkey
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Meat is carved from turkey leg

Carve the meat from the turkey leg, being careful to remove the tough, almost bone-like tendons which will very often remain in place.

Carved Turkey
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Carved turkey leg meat

The carved turkey meat should subsequently either be chopped or torn in to manageable, bite sized pieces.

Turkey added to Salad
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Turkey pieces are added to the assembled salad

Use your fingers to gently push the turkey pieces in to the salad at regular intervals. You may not need all the meat and any excess can be refrigerated for making a sandwich the following day.

Egg Quarters Top Salad
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Egg quarters are arranged on top of salad

Cut the eggs in to quarters and arrange on top of the salad before garnishing with the last of the cilantro.

Serving Suggestion

Olive Oil Dip
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Combining the ingredients of the olive oil bread dip

Pour half a cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil in to a mixing bowl and add the juice of one lemon. A small garlic clove peeled and grated in is optional before seasoning with black pepper. Beat with a fork to combine.

Wheat, Spelt and Rye Bread
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Wheatm spelt and rye bread

A good quality artisan bread is best served with this salad. This is wheat, spelt and rye bread, a thick slice of which is cut for each person.

Served Turkey and Couscous Salad
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Turkey and couscous salad with bread and olive oil dip

Divide the oil dip between four small ramekins and lay one on each of four serving plates. Take the salad platter and the bread slices to the table for diners to help themselves.