Chipotle Barbecue Pulled Turkey Drumstick Sliders with Brussels Sprout Slaw

Makesabout 3 cups, enough for 16 sliders
  • Active time: 40 min
    Total time: 2 3/4 hr
Turkey drumsticks do not take kindly to the dry heat of an oven, which causes the meat to tighten up around the bone and tendons. But treat those same drumsticks to a long, slow, moist braise in barbecue sauce, and the meat falls off the bones, revealing tendons so numerous, you won’t believe it.

Barbecue is a very personal subject for a lot of Americans. Some like it sweet, while others like it tangy, so season the mixture to your taste at the end of cooking. Above all, have fun with these cuties. Serve the sliders alongside the slices of breast and thigh meat at the big meal, or set them out with drinks for game-day fare. They’ll disappear fast! For more fresh ideas for Thanksgiving, read my 21st-Century Take on Turkey.
Published in Gourmet Live 11.16.11


  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds turkey drumsticks
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped chipotle chiles in adobo, including some sauce (see Cooks’ Notes)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 slider rolls (or other small, soft buns), split
  • Brussels Sprout Slaw


  • A 3 1/2- to 5-quart wide Dutch oven or other wide heavy pot with tight-fitting lid


  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Remove turkey skin.
  • Cook onion in oil with 1/2 teaspoon salt in Dutch oven over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until well softened, about 10 minutes.
  • Add garlic and spices and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  • Stir in ketchup, vinegar, chiles, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, and 1/2 cup water and simmer mixture, stirring, 1 minute.
  • Add drumsticks and cover pot, then braise in oven, turning drumsticks over once, until meat is very tender, about 2 hours.
  • Transfer drumsticks to a bowl and cool. Discard bones, tendons, and any remaining skin, and pull meat with forks or fingers into coarse shreds.
  • Stir meat into sauce remaining in pot. Thin, if necessary, with water to desired consistency and season with salt and pepper. Reheat over medium heat until hot.
  • Spoon mixture into slider rolls and top with slaw.


  • Although the chipotles in adobo add a seductive smoky warmth, feel free to leave them out if you are feeding kids. If that’s the case, puree a small can for the adults, and let them add as much as they want to their sliders.
  • Pulled turkey can be made 3 days ahead. Cool, uncovered, before chilling covered. Reheat slowly in covered pot, adding more water as necessary.
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