Smoked Turkey Tails

When living in landlocked Niger we would often load up the car for a day’s journey down unpaved roads to the coast in Lome, Togo.  Because of the roads, the going was slow and sometimes we’d stop to stretch our legs, at times strolling through local, outdoor markets just off the road.  At one of these markets we saw dozens of shipping cartons of American imported, raw “turkey tails”.  That was one on us!  Curious and no strangers to West African street food, we joined the queue to the 8-10 half barrel, charcoal grills where they were grilling the tails, slicing them and serving them on torn pieces of cement bag with an eye popping green chillie sauce on the side.  They were good and the experience so memorable that we still talk about it from time to time.

You can imagine my surprise when I saw these smoked turkey tails at Super Duper last week!  We’ve always believed that the American poultry growers had found a lucrative market in West Africa for a portion of the turkey that is usually tossed during processing.  And they had!  The queues to the grills were long and packed with excited, impatient consumers.  We had to wait quite a while in the hot sun!

The turkey tails are enormous, 4 1/2 – 5 inches.  How big are these turkeys?!  When did we start buying and eating turkey tails as a main course?  Or did we always eat them, at least in Pennsylvania?  Whatever.

The smoked tails are cooked in a 375 F oven for 35 minutes, then sliced and eaten.  The texture and flavor is somewhat like fatty ham.  Shrug.

They were okay but I don’t think I’ll buy them again.  We were younger then,  impressed with the ambiance of local outdoor markets, probably driven senseless by the 112 F sun and the really large African beers we drank to keep our strength up.  Everything was fun 😀

I also found some not so young okra at the Weiss supermarket and thought since West Africans eat a lot of okra, it would make a correct side dish for the tails.

The okra was leaning towards “woody” but I added onions, chilli, bell pepper and garlic to take my mind off the texture.



About cookinginsens

An American living in Burgundy, France
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1 Response to Smoked Turkey Tails

  1. Mad Dog says:

    I’m off turkey, but I’d definitely like to try the tails, especially since I’ve been smoking brisket all day (it’s resting now). Fingers crossed I didn’t screw it up…

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