Monday, October 27, 2014

Braised Turkey Thighs

YouTube Link: Braised Turkey Thighs
More Videos: Helen's Kitchen Channel

Inspired by Kenji Lopez-Alt's recipe on

4 turkey thighs
1 Tbsp oil (grapeseed, safflower, canola -- anything with high smoke point)
1 large carrot, large dice
1 celery sticks, large dice
1 large onion, large dice
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 rosemary sprigs
10 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 cups red wine (not too tannic)
2 cups salt-free or low-sodium chicken or turkey stock
3 Tbsp butter at room temperature
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp pomegranate molasses or to taste

If you can't get your hands on pomegranate molasses, try a splash or balsamic vinegar.  Another (probably most traditional) method of adding acidity to the braising liquid is to add 1-2 Tbsp of tomato paste along with your red wine.  If you do end up buying pomegranate molasses, you can keep it at room temperature indefinitely and I am sure you'll find plenty of uses for it.  So don't feel like you are buying a whole bottle just for this splash and wasting the rest.

Braising time and temperature:
This dish takes 1 h 45 min and up to 3 hours in 275F oven.  Why such a big difference in timing?  At low temperatures, a 25 degree difference makes a big difference.  When you set your oven to 275F, it might really be 300F or 250F, so the timing will vary depending on the oven, the size and shape of your pan, and the size of the thighs.  Start it assuming it might take 3 hours.  If it's done quickly, you can always rewarm it.

If we were to cover the skillet, the timing would be more predictable.  When braises are cooked covered, the pressure builds up in the pot and eventually the liquid boils, so whether you set your oven to 250F or to 300F, you are eventually cooking in 212F liquid.  When the pot is left uncovered, the temperature of the oven starts playing a bigger difference.  But a covered pot will result in flabby skin, that's why we cook this braise uncovered.

If your turkey cooled off, it's easy to rewarm by setting it back in the strained and degreased braising liquid and simmering it gently to warm back up.  Just make sure to keep it skin side up.

Re-crisping the skin
You'll notice that the skin will lose its crispness very quickly.  Right before serving, I like to brush the top of each thigh lightly with neutral tasting oil (grapeseed, safflower, or canola) and pop under the broiler.  You want to be very far from the broiling element, and give it good 3-6 minutes.  In my oven, I set it in the bottom third of the oven while my broiling element is on top of the oven.  Watch it very closely.  I suggest you do this on one thigh to get an idea of a good setting for you.  Even if you don't manage to re-crisp the skin, the turkey will still be delicious

Scaling the recipe to feed more people
4 thighs should serve 8-10 people.  They should fit nicely into a 12 inch skillet or a large dutch oven.  If you want to cook more thighs, you can brown them in batches in a skillet, and set aside.  Then make your sauce in the same skillet and pour it into a large oven safe baking dish or two (like a turkey roasting pan).  Put your thighs on top and put in the oven.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Unknown said...

Dear Helen: I made these today and they were absolutely delicious! The only bad thing was that they disappeared too fast. Even my granddaughter, who is very finicky liked them! Thank you for the delicious recipe. Sylvia :-)

Helen said...

so glad you enjoyed them :)

Lors said...

Helen, this looks delicious. Can all of this be done in advance and reheated / re-crisped? Also, can the bone be pulled out after cooking fairly easily, so I can slice them for a crowd, or do you think it would work well with boneless thighs (for ease of slicing)? Many thanks!