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Recipe: Wine-Braised Turkey for Two

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Recipe: Wine-Braised Turkey for Two
Dave Scantland
We serve this succulent, flavorful turkey over a stuffing "crouton" for Thanksgiving, but it's also delicious over mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes. One large turkey thigh will make two generous servings; if you braise two, you'll have leftovers. This can be made two or three days before serving. Roasting the skin until crisp makes a great garnish but is entirely optional.

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 small or 1 large turkey thighs (.75 to 1.25 pounds)
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup low sodium turkey or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup tawny port
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Preparation:

1. Remove the skin from the turkey thighs.* Sprinkle the thighs with salt and pepper.

2. Pour the wine, stock and port into a medium sized heavy pan with a lid. Place the thighs in the liquid and add more stock just to cover the meat. Add the bay leaf, thyme and rosemary.

3. Cover the pan and over medium-low heat, bring the liquid to a simmer. On the stove or in a 300F oven, simmer the thighs for about two hours, or until the meat is fork-tender. Try to keep the liquid at a bare simmer; if it boils, the meat will toughen up.

4. If you are braising a day or two in advance, remove the thighs from the liquid and let them cool until you can handle them, then put in a ziplock bag and refrigerate. Strain the cooking liquid into a non-reactive vessel. Cover, cool, then refrigerate. When chilled, skim the fat cap from the liquid. (If you are braising the day of service, remove the thighs from the liquid and set aside. Strain the cooking liquid into a gravy separator and allow the liquid to settle. Continue with recipe.)

5. Pour 1 to 1-1/4 cups of the de-fatted braising liquid into a small saucepan, reserving 1/4 cup. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce by about 2/3, or until thickened to a sauce consistency. You'll have 1/4 to 1/3 cups. Keep warm. (This can be done the day before; refrigerate and rewarm to continue.)

6. Meanwhile, pull or cut the turkey meat into bite-sized pieces. Place them in a small pan and moisten with the reserved 1/4 cup of liquid. Warm the meat to serving temperature over low heat.

7. When ready to serve, heat the sauce until it feels barely hot to the touch (about 130˚F). Whisk in the butter one teaspoon at a time, adding each piece only after the previous one has been incorporated. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

8. To serve with a stuffing crouton, mound a serving of turkey over half the crouton. Drizzle with a scant 2 tablespoons of sauce and garnish with the baked skin.* Or serve with mashed potatoes, grits, or mashed sweet potatoes.

* For an optional garnish, heat the oven to 275˚F. Remove the skin from each turkey thigh in a single piece. Lay the skin pieces flat on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 30 minutes or until brown and crispy. Remove skin from the tray and set aside.

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