Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Braised Turkey Thighs with Cider, Bacon and Potatoes

When I shop for food, I like to create challenges for myself by purchasing meats and vegetables that I have never cooked before.  That is exactly how I ended up with four monstrous turkey thighs in my shopping basket this past weekend.  While buying the least expensive protein out there did not take too much thought, I had little idea of how to prepare them.  Browsing my cookbook collection, I settled on braising the thighs,  which I hoped would ensure that they stayed moist; after all, there is nothing worse than dried-out turkey.  This typical Thanksgiving bird seems to do well with a sweet component--think cranberry sauce-- so I decided to add some hard apple cider to the braising liquid.  As for the bacon and potatoes, well those two ingredients just make everything taste better.

Braised Turkey Thighs with Cider, Bacon and Potatoes
Serves 4 to 6

  • 4 slices of thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 turkey thighs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1/2 cup hard apple cider
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 lb. small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into quarters
  1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
  2. Wash and thoroughly dry the turkey thighs.  Season them on all sides with salt and pepper and set the thighs aside. 
  3. Add the bacon to a large Dutch oven and heat over medium heat.  Cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until it begins to crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set it aside.  
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high.  Add the turkey thighs to the Dutch oven skin-side down. Do not crowd the turkey thighs; if necessary cook them in two batches.  Cook the turkey until it is well-browned on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.  Remove the turkey legs to a plate and discard all but 1 tbsp of oil from the Dutch oven.
  5. Add the carrot, celery, and onion to the dutch oven.  Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the thyme and cider to the pan.  Bring the cider to a boil and stir well to break up any brown bits at the bottom of the pan.  Boil the cider until it is reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
  7. Stir in the chicken stock.  Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat to a slow simmer.  Add the potatoes.  Sprinkle the reserved bacon over the potatoes.  
  8. Add the turkey thighs to the Dutch oven, skin-side down.  Cover the pan and place it in the oven.  Cook for 30 minutes, then flip the turkey thighs.  Replace the cover and continue cooking until the turkey is tender, another 30 to 40 minutes. 
  9. Place each turkey thigh in a bowl along with some potatoes.  Spoon off as much fat from the top of the liquid as you can.  Taste the braising liquid for salt and pepper and pour some of it over each serving of turkey and potatoes. 

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