Turkey Stew with Root Vegetables

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

One of my father’s favorite dishes to make in the winter is a hearty turkey stew with lots of root vegetables like rutabagas, turnips, and carrots. It’s warming, filling, and a big batch will last all week for several meals of leftovers.

It’s also very easy on the budget, which is probably why we had it so much growing up. You make it with turkey thighs (or legs), which, in addition to being the tastier dark meat, you can usually get for $1.50 per pound or less.

Turkey Stew with Root Vegetables

Slow cooking the turkey thighs bone-in, you get all of the healthy goodness and flavor from the bone marrow. Cooking them with skin on also coats the turkey with flavor. Turnips and rutabagas, which can be rather strong tasting, hold up beautifully with the also strong-tasting dark turkey meat.

Updated from the recipe archive, first posted in 2005.

Turkey Stew with Root Vegetables Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8.

Save time by prepping the root vegetables during the first stage of the stew's oven cooking.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 lbs turkey thighs (preferred) or legs (skin on, bone in)
  • 1 medium-large yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 quart (4 cups) chicken, turkey, or vegetable stock
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, 1/4 inch slices (about 1 1 /4 cups)
  • 1-2 medium turnips, peeled, 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium rutabaga, peeled, halved, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de provence*
  • Freshly ground black pepper

*Herbes de Provence is a delightful French blend of herbs - Winter savory, thyme, basil, tarragon, and lavender flowers. If you don't have herbes de provence, you can substitute with an Italian herb mix.

Method

1 Preheat oven to 300°F. Heat olive oil on medium high heat in a Dutch oven on the stove top. Wash and pat dry turkey pieces. Working in batches if necessary, brown the turkey thighs, first skin side down, 2-3 minutes on each side. Sprinkle the thighs with a little salt as you brown them.

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2 Once the thighs have browned, remove them from the pan and set them in a bowl. Add the onions and celery to the pot. Cook for about 5 minutes or so, until the onions are translucent and starting to brown at the edges. Return the turkey thighs to the pot.

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3 Add 2 teaspoons of salt and half of the stock. Bring to a simmer, remove from the stove top and put in the oven, covered, for an hour and fifteen minutes.

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4 After an hour and fifteen minutes, remove from oven and add the rest of the vegetables—carrots, turnips, rutabaga, and potatoes, the herbs, and the rest of the stock. Return to the oven, covered, and cook until tender, another 45 minutes or more.

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5 Remove the turkey thighs from the stew and place in a bowl to cool. When cool enough to handle, strip the meat off the bones. Discard the bones and skin. Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces (1 1/2-inches or so chunks) and return to the pot.

Sprinkle with black pepper and add more salt to taste.

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Showing 4 of 23 Comments

  • ellen

    Thanks so much for this recipe. It was perfect for hunkering down in this snowy week in Santa Fe. I added okra which worked out really nicely.

  • Anna H.

    Aside from adding a parsnip, I followed the recipe to the letter and–yikes–the stew turned out practically Dickensian. Hunks of vegetable and stringy meat floating in a thin, greasy broth. (That was even after spooning off extra fat!) So I refrigerated it, skimmed as much of the solidified fat off the top as I could, put it back on the stove and thickened it with beurre manié. Much better now! Actually… quite good!

    Next time I make it I think I’ll try adding the vegetables at the same time as the turkey so the turkey doesn’t get too overdone. (Or maybe just cut the potatoes smaller–I had to prolong the cooking time to get them soft, after everything else was done.) And as a matter of personal taste, I’ll go lighter on the turnips and heavier on the potatoes and parsnips.

  • Luke

    Just finishing this up now…20 minutes to go!

    I couldn’t get the rutabaga (at 2 stores, weird)…so i went with parsnip instead (it’s a personal fave).

    I’ll let you know how that change works out but my whole house smells like food heaven right now.

  • elston

    I made this turkey stew yesterday…..on a cold wintry Maine day. It was fun to do and absolutely delicious. I made a few changes out of necessity. I didnt have the herbal mixture but I added a few parsnips to the pot which I think have a slightly floral taste and would replace the lavender….and I added some french canadian salted herbs that have savory and shallots and parsley and chives……other than that I think I stayed pretty much on book.

    The stew was delicious with some baking powder biscuits on the side. Today the left overs were fantastic too….I added a little soy sauce….and it added a wonderful depth of flavor.

    I love this site….it always inspires me.

  • Dom

    Dear Elise– This recipe sounds delightful. I wanted to point out an apparent omission: am I correct to assume that the turkey pieces should go back into the pot at step 3, before we put it in the oven? :-)

    How did I manage to edit a recipe to the point that a crucial and obvious step got omitted? D’oh. Yes. Return the turkey thighs to the pot, in Step 2. Correction made. Thank you! ~Elise

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