How To Cook Turkey Necks: Prepare, Cook and Recipes

A lot of times when you order a Turkey, it is accompanied by turkey necks. If you've always picked them up and thrown them away, think again before chucking these little guys to the side. Turkey necks are versatile and can be used in soups and stews or even simmered down to make a flavorful gravy to accompany your turkey during the holidays.

This is a step-by-step guide on how to cook turkey necks. This guide doesn’t show you how to make the best turkey neck, but it does show you how to get one that tastes good and has a good amount of meat.

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How to prepare turkey necks

  • Use a sharp knife and cut the neck into 2-3 pieces. 
  • Place in a pot and cover with water.
  • Add an onion, or two if they are large, a little salt, a bay leaf (optional), and put to boil.
  • Once boiling, take it off the stove then let it simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until the meat is tender enough to be eaten. (this will depend on how big your neck is and how long you let it cook). Make sure you give the necks enough time to cook because some of them can be tough.
  • Once cooked, remove the neck from the water and let it cool to room temperature. 
  • Then you can pick off the meat and discard any bones. After you've picked off all of the meat, put them in a zip-lock bag with a small amount of salt and refrigerate for up to 3 days. They will continue to get more tender as time passes.
  • I like to just pick off the meat and serve my turkey necks in a bowl along with some gravy or sauce.

There is also another way that can be done if you don't have time or want to just pick off all of the meat from your turkey neck prior to cooking, as this method doesn't require cooking them at all.

  • Use a sharp knife and cut the neck into 2-3 pieces.
  • Hold the pieces of the neck with one hand while cutting an "X" in the skin with your other.
  • Then squeeze out all of the turkey neck goodness into a bowl without removing the bones. After you've picked off all of the meat, put them in a zip-lock bag with a small amount of salt and refrigerate for up to 3 days. They will continue to get more tender as time passes.
  • When you're ready to eat just rub some butter on the outside of the turkey neck and heat it up in the oven.

 

How to cook turkey necks

I am not going to mess around with you and make it sound easy. I'll give a few pointers and then get straight to the point.

First, if you have time, roast your turkey neck in the oven at 375°F for 1-1/2 hours or until tender. I've done this many times and it's always delicious but the more time in the oven, the better. Doing it this way makes your gravy "done" so that you don't have to be careful with what you put in it or how much of it there is. There is just no reason why you can't go ahead and use all of your turkey necks as they are roasted, but I did choose to do things a little differently this year.

I like to do things a little differently. So I decided to use my turkey neck to make Turkey stock.

The recipe I use is below, but here's the gist of it:

  • After your turkey necks have been boiled for about 45-50 minutes, remove them from the pot, let them cool in a colander for about 30 minutes and then pick everything off of the neck. Or you can leave the bones in the pot and pick them out after cooking. Either way is fine but I prefer leaving the bones in so that I can freeze most of them for later use and just throw away what I don't need or want.
  • Next, you will want to remove your meat from the bones. This is a dirty job, but it needs to be done, so here goes:
  • Grab a sharp knife and cut the neck into 2-3 pieces.
  • Use the small end of the knife and scrape off the small bits that were stuck to the bone. If you can't get them off, then work with wet paper towels or something similar until you do. Once most of it is off, put them in a colander and rinse them well under cold water to remove as much of that leftover blood and other stuff from your meat as possible.
  • The last thing you need to do before picking off all of your meat is put some salt on the meat. If it's too dry and having difficulties picking off the meat, then add just a little bit more salt.
  • You can also sprinkle a little barbecue seasoning over the meat before you pick it all off if you want, but I prefer to just pick it all off. I don't think it needs anything else added to it unless you are picky about what you put in your turkey necks and what flavor they have.
  • After doing those things, your turkey necks are complete and ready for use in any way that you please.

 

Recipes for turkey necks

Turkey neck gravy

  • 1 whole turkey neck
  • 3-4 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 more cups of chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • For the gravy, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, then whisk in the chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and let boil for about 5 minutes, or until thickened slightly. Don't let it boil too long or it will be too thick.  Stir constantly while it's cooking.  While you are waiting for your gravy to thicken up, cut up your turkey neck into bite-sized pieces and put them in a bowl with any bones that you want to save.  When your gravy is done, pour it over the meat and bones in your bowl along with any extra that you can use.  Stir everything up together. Serve.

Turkey necks stuffed with cheese and onions

  • 3 "long neck" turkey necks, cleaned and cut into sections
  • Olive oil
  • Grated parmesan cheese (or other cheese)
  • Canned white beans (or 1 cup cooked)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine  (or olive oil) Note: I prefer to use margarine instead of butter when cooking with olive oil.  With the same amount of butter in the recipe, it will come out tasting like oil because the butter is so mild in flavor.  With the margarine, it comes out tasting like a cheese sauce and is milder in flavor.  It's a matter of taste, but I prefer it this way.
  • Heat olive oil or margarine in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add onions and cook until they are softened.  Stir frequently while they are cooking so they don't stick together too much.  While your onions cook, put your turkey neck sections in the bowl with any bones that you want to save and add the salt to them if you want (I do recommend using salt because with all of the other things going on in this recipe, you don't want all of your meat being salty).  After stirring your onions for about 10 minutes, add them to the bowl with the turkey necks.  Add your beans and cheese to the same bowl.  Stir well.  Fill each turkey neck with this mixture and place them in your Dutch oven or oven-safe pot.  Pour water into the pot just until it covers your turkey necks (about an inch, maybe a little more).  Cover and cook in a preheated 350°F oven for 2-1/2 hours, or until meat is tender (cooking time varies depending on how big or small each of your turkey necks is.  Be sure to watch so that they don't run out of water).  Serve with mashed potatoes and asparagus (or broccoli) with a mushroom sauce.
  • If you don't want to use your turkey necks for gravy or stuffed turkey necks, then you can always use them for a delicious turkey neck pot pie.  This is the easiest way to use your leftover turkey neck meat and it comes out great every time.

 

Old-fashioned turkey neck pie 1 medium onion, minced

  • 3 tablespoons of butter (or margarine)
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cooked turkey neck (cooked according to directions above)
  • 1 tablespoon of flour 1/2 cup milk 3/4 teaspoon salt  (optional)  (I use this as a topping) Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large pot.  Place onions in the pot with their oil and cook until the onions are softened.  Stir frequently so that they don't stick together too much.  While the onions cook, put your turkey neck meat in the pot with any bones that you want to save and add the salt to them if you want (I do recommend using salt because with all of the other things going on in this recipe, you don't want all of your meat being salty).  Add 3 tablespoons of flour to the pot with everything else.  Stir well.  Add 1 cup of frozen peas and 1 cup of potatoes.  Stir well. Add 1/2 cup of milk and stir until smooth. Place a large pie pan into a large oven-safe pot or Dutch oven and pour all of your ingredients into it. Brush the top of the pie pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Cover your pot and place it into the oven.  Bake for 1 hour at 425°F.  Uncover your pot and bake for 25 more minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with a topping of your favorite kind of gravy.

 

FAQs

How long do turkey necks boil?

Turkey necks are actually pretty easy to cook.  The only tricky part is getting them started in the first place.  They need to be prepared ahead of time to be cooked, so if you plan on using them for a recipe then start cooking them at least a day or so before you need them.  You can cut up your turkey necks into pieces before you put them in the pot if you want, but it's not necessary.

What is the best way to make turkey necks?

The best way to cook turkey necks is to boil them in water.  If you like, you can put some carrots and celery in the water with them, but it's not necessary (it will be easier if you do though).  Boil the turkey necks until they are tender.  The amount of time it takes to cook a turkey neck depends on the size of the neck, so keep an eye on it while it boils so that you don't have to overcook it.

How do you clean turkey necks before cooking?

There are a few ways to clean up a turkey neck before cooking. You can cut the neck off of one of your raw turkeys (if you plan on making turkey stock, it helps to have a large number of bones at once).  If you don't want to use one of your turkeys for anything else, then you can buy an extra turkey and cut the neck off.  Another option is to find a butcher that will sell them to you already cleaned.  If you're lucky enough to have access to someone like this, then you'll be saving yourself quite a bit of time and work.

How long does it take smoked turkey necks to boil?

Most smoked turkey necks can be boiled for about 40-45 minutes.  The time will vary depending on the size of the neck and how much meat it is.  Remember to make sure that you're not boiling your meat too long, or else it will get tough and rubbery.

 

Conclusion

Turkey necks are inexpensive and can be used for many recipes.  One thing to keep in mind is that it's best to cook them ahead of time if you plan on using them in a recipe.  That way you don't have to worry about running out of time, or having it turn out poorly because you're scrambling around trying to figure out what you need to do with the pieces that are left over.

I hope you enjoy this recipe.  This is one of our favorite ways to cook turkey necks and it's a great way to use up your leftover turkey neck meat.  Any way that you choose to eat your turkey necks, make sure you are careful when cooking them and be sure to be safe around them!

If you have any questions about how to cook turkey necks, please leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer them for you.

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