After downing a plate of stuffed turkey wings at Laura’s II in Lafayette, Louisiana, I knew I had to bring this idea into the test kitchen. The massive wings—meaty, browned, and braised to tenderness—were served with a scoop of rice but without the Cajun‑style gravy that blankets many versions of the dish. This particular “plate lunch” was offered only on Wednesdays until current owner Madonna Broussard took over the restaurant and decided to serve it every day (see “The Inspiration Behind Our Fall-Off-The-Bone Stuffed Turkey Wings”).
These wings are called “stuffed,” but if you’re imagining Thanksgiving‑style stuffing, you’re on the wrong track. Instead, the wings, split into flats and drumettes, are slit open and stuffed with cloves of garlic and a powerful mixture of spices.
The spice mix at Laura’s II was, and remains, a secret. I knew I’d have to create my own. I started with three spices that were unmistakable in the version I’d eaten: paprika, cayenne, and granulated garlic, which added a savory, less-sharp garlic flavor to the fresh cloves. From there, I tinkered my way to adding onion powder, celery salt, and of course, salt and pepper (see all of the ingredients needed for this dish with our mise en place photo shown below). I carefully cut slits in both the drumette portions and the flat portions of the wings and then rubbed them inside and out with the spice mix before stuffing halved garlic cloves into the slits.
I set a Dutch oven on the stove and browned my wings on both sides (below left). This step helped render some of the fat from the wings and created a layer of fond in the bottom of the pot. What’s more, I found that the searing step helped temper the cayenne’s raw heat to create a more complex chile flavor.
Once the wings were browned, I transferred them to a plate so I could make a roux with the fat left behind. Cooking 1/4 cup of flour in this fat for just 3 minutes gave me a beautiful caramel-colored roux (below right). This would be the base of my braising liquid (and eventually my gravy, which—with all due respect to the stuffing—is the thing that really makes this dish).
I tossed chopped bell pepper, onion, and celery (aka the “Cajun holy trinity”) into the pot to soften with some smashed garlic cloves and fresh thyme plus a bit more of the spice mix (below left). After 5 minutes, I added chicken broth, brought everything to a simmer, and returned the wings to the pot (below right). I covered the pot, slipped it into a low 300-degree oven, and let it go for an hour.
At this point I was nearly powerless against the gorgeous aromas in the kitchen, but I knew I wasn’t there yet. Fortitude! I flipped the wings and returned the pot to the oven for 45 more minutes, at which point the meat was falling off the proverbial (and the literal) bone. While the turkey was finishing I cooked up some rice, whose primary function would be to soak up that gravy.
Once the turkey wings were cooked through, I moved them to a plate and put the pot on the stove for 7 minutes over high heat to further thicken the gravy. I plated up scoops of rice with turkey wings positioned on top and then ladled that impossibly flavorful gravy over it all. The gravy oozed its way into the rice, delivering deep flavor to every open space.
Once I had an all-in-one forkful of tender turkey meat and rice saturated with my Cajun-style gravy, I was straight back in Lafayette.