Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Red Wine Braised Turkey Legs

The idea here is that you've decided to split up your turkey for Thanksgiving. You decided to use the breast separate from the legs and wings, which will prove to be a great idea.

The Turkey Porchetta and this braise is an ideal Thanksgiving recipe collection because they both cook at the same temp, for the same time. It's simply brilliant and I applaud Kenji over at Serious Eats for coming up with the recipes.

The benefit of braising is that the connective tissue in the turkey legs has time to break down and results in well seasoned and tender meat that falls apart. It's outstanding.

Red Wine Braised Turkey Legs
(from here)

2 whole turkey legs (I also used the wings)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, smashed
4 thyme sprigs, about 3 inches each
2 rosemary sprigs, about 5 inches each
2 cups dry red wine, such as Pinot Grigio
1 quart turkey stock (sub chicken broth)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour


Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil over high heat in a stainless pan. If you don't have a pan that can hold a quart comfortably, use a pot about the same diameter. 

Season your turkey pieces with salt and pepper - GENEROUSLY.

Sear off the legs for about 8 minutes on the first side. Don't worry about them overcooking and do your best not to touch them until they release from the pan.

If you get excessive smoking, drop the heat to medium-high.

In the mean time, prep your veggies:

Carrot, onion, celery, garlic.

Flip your legs when they have nice color on them and sear the other side for 5 minutes or so.

Remove once seared and stand by.

Do the same for the wings if you are doing them.

5 minutes each side give or take.

Set aside while we do the vegetables.

Toss the veggies into the pan and season with salt and pepper.

Toss in the thyme and rosemary and stir to combine and cook for 8-10 minutes or until well softened.

Measure out 2 cups of wine.

After you've cooked your veg down add the wine.

Give the bottom of the pan a good scrape to loosen up the fond.

Turn the heat to high and reduce by half.

Measure out 4 cups of stock.

Reduced wine
Next add the stock to the pan. This is where you'll see if your pan is big enough. Mine was just BARELY once the turkey was in.

Nestle the turkey pieces into the liquid.

Note the distance to the top! That's a full pan.

Bake at 275 for 2 hours.

Once the 2 hours was up, I transferred the pan to the stovetop to cook while my Turkey Porchetta rested and my Green Bean Casserole and Stuffing finished cooking. 

I apologize for not getting more pics of this process but it was dinner time and I had my hands full.

This is me removing the thigh bones for easier serving.


Lack of pictures aside, these thighs were really great. The skin got nice and crisp in the oven so skin people will like that aspect and the meat was super tender from the long cooking time. The meat was seasoned well from the braise and tasted very traditional considering it was a red wine braise. I thought it was going to be like coq-au-vin but it wasn't at all. It was much more like a traditional slow cooked turkey for lack of a better description.

If you're looking for a nice way to use some turkey legs, give this whirl, it's sure to please and easy to pull off. 


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