I'm a dark-meat guy. It's rich, nuanced, tender and moist. I'm always carving myself the leg and thigh off the Thanksgiving turkey while everyone else clamors for the breast meat. I also don't think turkey should be limited to one holiday a year. This simple braise is a great year-round dinner.
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 6 whole turkey thighs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 4 celery stalks, diced
- 1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 6 juniper berries
- 4 allspice berries
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 1 small bunch thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 4 cups chicken or turkey stock
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
2. In a large Dutch oven or heavy high-sided skillet, heat the canola oil over high heat. Season the turkey thighs on all sides with salt and black pepper. When the oil is hot, add the turkey thighs, skin-side down, and sear until golden brown on the skin side, about 6 minutes (reduce the heat if the skin begins to burn). Flip the thighs and cook until golden brown on the second side, 4 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a rimmed plate or baking sheet and set aside.
3. Add the carrots, celery and onion to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
4. Place a square of cheesecloth on a work surface. Put the peppercorns, juniper berries, allspice berries and cinnamon stick in the center of the cheesecloth, gather up the edges to form a sachet, and tie with a piece of kitchen twine. Add the sachet to the vegetables, along with the thyme, bay leaves and rosemary.
5. Return the thighs to the Dutch oven, skin-side up, and add enough stock so that the thighs are halfway submerged. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Braise the turkey thighs until the meat is very tender and the connective tissue has dissolved but the meat is not falling from the bone, about 1 hour.
6. When the turkey thighs are tender, remove them from the oven. Carefully remove the thighs from the pot and transfer them to a large platter. Tent with aluminum foil and return to the oven to keep warm. Strain the braising liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium saucepan (or back into the Dutch oven), discarding the solids and the sachet.
7. Bring the braising liquid in the pan to a rapid boil over high heat. Boil until the liquid has reduced by half and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it is still too thin, whisk in a tablespoon of flour and simmer until the sauce has thickened and no longer has a floury taste, 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter and remove from the heat.
8. Remove the turkey thighs from the oven and drizzle the sauce over to top.
Adapted from Homegrown: Cooking From My New England Roots by Matt Jennings. Published by Artisan 2017.
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