You may recall that my recommendation for roasting the perfect Thanksgiving turkey is to roast it in parts, rather than as a whole bird. By roasting the breast separate from the drumsticks and thighs, you can cook each part to juicy perfection, rather than allowing the the breast to dry out while waiting for the legs and thighs to come up to temperature.
If desired, you can roast a few drumsticks and thighs alongside the breast, at the same temperature and with the same seasonings. Cooked separate from the breast, the drumsticks and thighs will cook more quickly (in about the same time as the breast). Use an instant read meat thermometer to test for doneness, since cooking time will vary based on weight and your oven’s exact temperature. Aim for 160-165 degrees for the breast and 170-175 degrees for the thighs and drumsticks.
Or for a little something different, try braising the dark meat using this very simple, very flavorful preparation. The meat will become fall-off-the-bone tender and you’ll have a delicious, ready-made sauce to serve along with it! You can even braise the parts the day before and reheat on the stovetop at a gentle simmer when you’re ready to serve (though the skin will lose some crispiness with reheating).
Give it a try! I think you’ll like it!
And you can click back to HERE to see last year’s post on how to roast a turkey breast.
Bacon and Cider Braised Turkey
- 8 slices bacon, chopped
- 2 turkey thighs, skin-0n, bone-in
- 2 turkey drumsticks, skin-on, bone-in
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup apple cider
- 2-3 cups chicken broth
- Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat the thighs and drumsticks dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour over the thighs and drumsticks. In a large dutch oven pan, cook bacon over medium/medium-high heat until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon, leaving the bacon drippings in the pan. Place the thighs and drumsticks in the pan in a single layer, skin side down. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the skin is nicely browned. Then flip the pieces and cook for about three minutes on the other side. Pour the cider and chicken broth over the chicken. (The liquids should come about halfway up the sides of the turkey, leaving the browned skin exposed.) Return the bacon to the pan. Cover and place on the middle oven rack. Allow to cook for 90 minutes, undisturbed. Then, remove the cover and allow it to cook for 30 minutes more (to crisp up the skin and allow the sauce to reduce). Remove from the oven. Remove the turkey pieces and place on a platter. Pour the sauce into a measuring cup and allow it to cool for a few minutes. As it cools, the excess fat will rise to the surface. Use a spoon to remove the excess fat. Then, taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, as desired.
Garlicky Creamed Spinach
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 shallots, finely diced
- 1 pound baby spinach leaves
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- Salt (about 1/4 teaspoon)
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Ground black pepper
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach to the pan. (It will look like a tremendous quantity of spinach. Don’t worry…it will drastically shrink as it wilts.) Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until all of the spinach has wilted. Add the heavy cream, parmesan cheese, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Bring to a simmer and allow it to cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, until the liquid reduces by at least half. Allow to cool slightly before serving, which will help the cream to thicken up a bit.