Braised Turkey Legs

Delicious Turkey Stew! Made with flavorful turkey legs, browned and braised, served with root vegetables.
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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Everybody loves turkey breast for their turkey sandwiches, right? Actually the most flavorful part of the turkey comes from the dark meat of the turkey thighs and legs, which are much less expensive than the breast meat.

Here’s one of our favorite budget-friendly winter stews—turkey legs that have been slowly braised on a bed of celery and onions until fork tender, then shredded and served with a sauce of their braising liquid. We often include potatoes and root vegetables as well.

Perfect for a cold winter day!

Braised Turkey Legs Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours
  • Yield: Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 2 turkey legs and 2 thighs, about 4 lbs
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup of finely chopped celery
  • Salt, pepper, and cayenne
  • 2 cups water or other braising liquid (dry white wine or stock)
  • Cornstarch
  • Parsley, chopped, about 1/4 cup
  • Optional 3 cups chopped or quartered potatoes, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, and/or parsnips

Method

1 Brown turkey legs and thighs: Sprinkle turkey thighs and legs with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan with high sides on medium high heat. Add the turkey legs and thighs to the pan and sear until browned on all sides, about 5-8 minutes.

2 Add chopped onion and celery to form a nest under the turkey pieces. Sauté an additional 5 minutes.

3 Braise until tender: Add 2 cups of braising liquid - either water, stock, wine, or a combination. Bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and cover. Simmer covered, on low heat, for an hour and a half, or until the turkey is so well cooked and tender that the meat easily falls off of the bones.

4 Remove the turkey meat from the pan and remove the bones, taking special care to remove the many small narrow bones of the legs. Remove the skin.

5 Cook the potatoes and root vegetables (optional): Add the vegetables to the pan with the turkey braising liquid. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer on medium high heat. Lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook covered, until done, about 20 minutes. When done, remove the vegetables from the pan so you can reduce the remaining liquid to make a sauce.

6 Make the sauce: Increase the heat to high and bring the remaining liquid in the pot to a boil. Reduce the liquid remaining in the pan by half to intensify some of the meat juices for added flavor.

Take a teaspoon of cornstarch and dissolve in a 1/2 cup of water. Add cornstarch mixture a little at a time to sauce, adding more liquid, until the sauce achieves the desired body.

Adjust seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed, add a little cayenne or Tabasco sauce. If the sauce is too sweet, add a little vinegar or lemon. Add parsley.

7 Add the turkey and vegetables back to the pan with the sauce. Serve immediately over rice or bread or with the vegetables if you have chosen to make them.

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Showing 4 of 9 Comments

  • Amber

    Making this tonight. Elise, do you think it would work to just throw in the veggies during the last 20mins of cooking?

  • Mari Anne

    I made this yesterday. The family loved it. I’ll be making it again, soon. Thanks.

  • Sarah

    I could not believe how rich and flavorful this was for using so few ingredients! I used water and white wine for the braising liquid and potatoes and carrots for the veggies, and also added some dried thyme and a bay leaf. Didn’t really need the cornstarch as the potatoes thickened it up nicely. Going back the store to see if I can score some more drumsticks at .99/lb so I can make this a bunch more times!

  • tiff

    Wow…I just made this tonight and about cried from how delicious it was! Exaggeration aside, it’s been a very long time since I’ve had such tender, juicy, and flavorful meat. I plan to make this for Thanksgiving!

    Thanks for the recipe!

  • Julie Disc

    My husband and I made this recipe last night and it was fantastic! The only thing we modified was the onion – we cut it to 1/2 cup because I am a bit sensitive to onion lol. This one is going in my book of bests :)

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