Where to Find Turkey Legs in Fort Worth
For both Fort Worth law enforcement agencies and local foodies, the dates from March 20-22, 2021 can live in shame. At that time, Turkey Leg Hut, a Houston-based restaurant, was hosting a weekend-long pop-up event at the Fort Worth location of Potter’s House Church.
No doubt police and turkey leg enthusiasts alike were amazed by what greeted them this weekend: Cars stretched miles along Interstate 30, causing Woodstock-long traffic jams. Local media reported that some people waited up to 12 hours – yes, for stuffed turkey thighs.
Meanwhile, a Facebook user was puzzled by the turkey madness and wrote in a local FB gourmet group that Fort Worth has its own restaurant that specializes in stuffed turkey legs. Hours later, a mini-version of what happened on I-30 headed onto McCart Avenue, where Fort Worth Natives Rodrick and Ericka Benson run their tiny Turkey Leg House restaurant.
“This lady’s post on Facebook led to our best weekend ever,” says Rodrick. “The police had to get out there and help direct the traffic. It got so hard. ”
Since then, the Turkey Leg House, which the couple opened last year in a small mall in far south Fort Worth, has been selling their eponymous dish, especially on weekends when it’s no shock to see hungry fans on the sidewalk.
The restaurant’s business boom perfectly illustrates the growing popularity of stuffed turkey legs – that is, big turkey legs like you might find them at the State Fair – usually with butterflies and “stuffed” – or rather, topped – with various add-ons. From shrimp alfredo to dirty rice to smoked brisket.
While gnawing turkey legs at state fairs and carnivals has been a tradition for decades, the trend toward stuffed turkey legs began in 2016 when the Turkey Leg Hut opened in Houston, according to Texas Monthly. it immediately gained a rabid following. Slowly the trend spread across the state, prompting restaurateurs to open up their own stuffed turkey leg patches, or at least add stuffed legs to their menus.
Other Fort Worth restaurants that sell filled turkey thighs also sell out, such as Smoke-A-Holics and Jube’s Smokehouse, both of which sell filled turkey thighs, but only on certain days of the week.
“They disappeared in just a few hours,” says Smoke-A-Holics owner Derrick Walker, who offers legs as a special on Tuesdays.
Turkey Leg House is one of the few Fort Worth restaurants that offers turkey thighs filled daily. It’s by no means easy, says Rodrick.
It’s a two-pronged process that requires a certain amount of skill, time, and patience, says Ericka. “It’s not just about smoking turkey legs,” she says. “You do that, but you also prepare the filling, which has to be just as good as the legs.”
The Bensons offer four toppings for their legs: Prawn Alfredo, Lobster Mac and Cheese, Chicken and Dressing, and Brisket and Dirty Rice. They work together on the dishes; Rodrick takes care of the legs smoking and they both prepare the toppings.
Each leg spends four to six hours in Rodrick’s special smoker, which makes the meat as smoky as it is deliciously tender. In true Texas grill fashion, Rodrick uses a wood / non-gas smoker. He mixes his woods and combines mesquite with pecan, which gives his meat a unique flavor profile, he says.
The legs are then cut lengthwise in two and then soaked with the toppings you choose. One serving is big enough for two people, and you will likely have leftovers.
“When people first walk in they sometimes say, ‘Whoa, they’re $ 18 each,” Rodrick says. “But they’re enough for two. One person takes half; the other takes the other half. Our prices are lower than most. Many places charge $ 25-30 per leg. “
One of the restaurant’s most popular filled turkey legs combines the turkey with Rodrick’s first love: grilling. The mountain of finely chopped brisket on top of the brisket and the dirty leg of rice is smoked all night, up to 12 hours, he says.
Smoked brisket used to be Rodrick’s bread and butter; He sold it to friends and family, as well as at pop-up events. As Fort Worth’s barbecue game grew thicker, he turned to stuffed turkey legs, which at the time had not yet gained a foothold in Fort Worth. He and Ericka turned his passion and backyard hobby into a full-fledged business and opened the Turkey Leg House last year to turn a harmless mall into one of the busiest restaurants in the area.
The meal brought Rodrick out of retirement and gave Ericka her second wind. Rodrick worked his way up from deckhand to engineer, working for an offshore boat company that specializes in transporting chemical barges for 20 years. He retired in 2017 but couldn’t keep himself calm.
“I’m one of those who have to work,” he says. “I’m tired of retiring, tired of sitting around, tired of traveling.”
Ericka worked in the banking industry for several years before losing her job to technology. She made an even more dramatic impact on her life and also developed breast cancer, which luckily got caught. She has been cancer free for a decade.
The restaurant has not only given her a new career, it has also given her a new approach to life. “Once you survive cancer, you see things, you see life differently,” she says. “They’re more open to taking risks – doing something crazy like opening a restaurant.”
Turkey Leg House, 6200 McCart Ave., turkey-leg-house.com
Other places to fix your stuffed turkey leg
The almost two year old Jubes smokehouse (1900 S. Edgewood Terrace) in the east of town serves stuffed turkey thighs on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Pitmaster Patrick “Jube” Joubert, whom we featured in our October 2019 issue, offers 2-pound legs filled with homemade dirty rice or shrimp creol. The man from Louisiana knows his Creole food.
If dirty rice or shrimp creol isn’t your jam, Joubert will be more than happy to top your turkey leg with this day’s side dishes, from vegetables to macs to cheese. “Don’t sleep on the mac and cheese,” he says. “Turkey is doing fantastic.”
Another of the best grill restaurants in town, South Side Joint Smoke-A-Holics BBQ (1417 Evans Ave.) recently started serving stuffed turkey legs on Tuesdays. Owner Derrick Walker serves up three heavy, Insta-worthy beauties adorned with imaginative, homemade toppings.
The Cajun-influenced Big Grit is drowning in a sea of garlic cheddar semolina, Cajun-style prawns and a roux mixed with sausage. The appropriately named Dirty South is topped with a mound of Walker’s dirty specialty rice, and the Ragin ‘Cajun wears a cape made of chicken and sausage noodles.