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Red Wine Roasted Turkey Legs Recipe

Red Wine Roasted Turkey Legs Recipe

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Red Wine Roasted Turkey Legs

Kerry Heffernan, Executive Chef at South Gate at the Essex House in New York City, originally braised the turkey legs, but in testing it discovered roasting the meat produced a tastier result, with crispy skin, in little time. When purchasing turkeys, he prefers the moister product D’Artagnan turkeys yield.

Adapted from Kerry Heffernan.


2 turkey legs, deboned and any tough tendons removed, about 2 ½-3 pounds total

12 ounces red wine, preferably a Pinot Noir

4 sprigs parsley, stems removed and minced

4 sprigs marjoram, stems removed and minced

4 sprigs thyme, stems removed and minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 ounce rendered bacon fat, or grapeseed oil

4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced

4 ounces hen of the woods mushrooms, trimmed and sliced (use cremini mushrooms as an alternative)

4 ounces pancetta, diced

8 ounces rich brown turkey stock


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lay deboned turkey legs out, skin side down, and season well with salt and pepper. Combine the herbs together with 1/2 of the garlic and sprinkle over top,

Roll the legs up, encasing the herbs. Using six 12-inch long segments of butchers twine, tie off the roulade at 1-inch intervals. Season the exterior well with salt and pepper.

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon fat and sear off the legs, moving the roulade every two minutes or so to evenly brown the skin. Once it is fully seared, place the roulade, flesh side down, in the sauté pan and place in the oven.

Check the meat after 20 minutes. When ready, the juices will run pink. Remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes (it will continue to cook).

While the turkey is roasting, preheat a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and render for 3 minutes, then remove the meat, leaving the fat in the pan. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the mushrooms, season them well, and sauté for about 4-5 minutes, or until they begin to turn golden.

Add the pancetta and remaining garlic to the pan, and deglaze with turkey stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, check the seasoning and keep warm.

To serve, remove strings and slice into rounds. Place the rounds attractively on platter and ladle sauce mixture over top.

Recipe Summary

  • ½ cup salt
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 4 turkey drumsticks
  • 2 cups white wine
  • ½ cup pomegranate molasses
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoons dried sage leaves, divided
  • 4 tablespoons dried thyme leaves, divided

Place the salt and sugar into a large resealable bag. Pour in enough water to cover the turkey legs, and squeeze the bag to dissolve salt and sugar. Immerse the turkey legs in the brine, and seal the bag. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to brine.

In a saucepan, stir together the white wine, pomegranate molasses, brown sugar, regular molasses, vinegar, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half. Season with 1 tablespoon of sage and 1 tablespoon of thyme. Taste and adjust sugar, salt and pepper if desired.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Remove the turkey legs from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the brine. Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Cast iron will work well. Fry the turkey, turning frequently, until browned on all sides. Place the pan with the turkey into the oven.

Roast uncovered for 45 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove and turn legs over. Season with some of the remaining thyme and sage, and spoon some of the sauce onto the legs to coat. Return to the oven for an additional 30 minutes.

Repeat the seasoning and baste with the sauce again, and return to the oven. Roast for 15 more minutes, then test for doneness. The internal temperature should be 180 degrees F (82 degrees C) when taken with a meat thermometer. Serve turkey with remaining sauce on the side.

The nutrition data for this recipe includes information for the full amount of the brining solution. The sodium content recorded here is therefore artificially high . The actual amount of salt consumed will vary.

Recipe Summary

  • 3 stalks celery stalks, cut in thirds
  • 3 turkey legs
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • salt to taste
  • ½ cup water, or as needed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Rinse the turkey legs and pat dry.

Stand the turkey legs upright (as if the turkey were standing). Press a knife downward into the deep tissue, creating 2 or 3 long pockets. Press a piece of celery into each opening. Pull back the skin on the legs, rub with butter, and season with a little salt. Put the skin back into place, rub with more butter, and season lightly with salt. Lay the legs in a roasting pan.

Roast uncovered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the legs are golden brown and the internal temperature is 180 degrees F (82 degrees C) when taken with a meat thermometer. Add more water if needed while roasting, and baste occasionally with the juices or butter.

Braised Turkey Legs and Thighs

Braising--browning, then stewing in a covered pot--is the very best way to prepare succulent, tender turkey legs and thighs. Not only does a long, luxurious braise net great results, it’s also a busy person’s go-to method. You can leave the meat to cook, while you do other things. Braised turkey legs are even better served the next day.

Gremolata is a herbaceous਌ondiment that adds a brightness and freshness to the turkey. 



  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large turkey legs, and 2 thighs
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 3 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 whole head of garlic, cut in half to expose the cloves
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • Bouquet garni: 1 bay leaf, 6 sage leaves, several thyme sprigs and 1 rosemary sprig, tied in a bundle with kitchen twine
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups turkey broth, chicken broth, or mixed poultry broth
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper


  • ½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Zest of 1 orange, and 2 tablespoons of orange juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds


2. Heat evoo in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Brown turkey legs and thighs, cooking for 3 to 5 minutes per side, until skin is crisp and golden brown. Transfer to a plate.

3. Add onion, celery, and carrots to the Dutch oven, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or until browned. Add turkey legs and thighs, garlic, mushrooms, bouquet garni, wine, and broth back to the pot. Cover and braise for 1 hour.

4. Uncover and continue cooking for 1 hour more, or until legs are tender and meat is almost falling off the bone.

5. Transfer legs and thighs to a platter. Skim off and discard fat from braising liquid. Spoon remaining juices over legs. Top with some of the Gremolata, and serve with additional Gremolata on the side.

1. Pulse parsley, garlic, zest and orange juice, zest and lemon juice, evoo, and pumpkin seeds until it forms a coarse paste.

2. Spoon over turkey legs. Transfer remaining to a small bowl and serve alongside turkey.

Recipe Summary

  • 2 turkey legs (from one 15- to 16-pound turkey), about 4 1/2 pounds
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 leeks, white and light-green parts only, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1 teaspoon chopped leaves, for garnish
  • 4 sprigs fresh sage
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 3 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Rinse turkey legs and pat dry season all over with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat and add olive oil. Add turkey legs, skin side down, working in batches, if necessary. Cook, turning, until turkey legs are browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer legs to a plate and discard all but 1 tablespoon of rendered fat from Dutch oven.

Deglaze with white wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot and slightly reduced, 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium-high and add carrots, celery, and leeks to Dutch oven and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add thyme, sage, bay leaves, and stock bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and add turkey legs, skin side down cover and transfer to oven. Cook for 40 minutes. Uncover, turn turkey legs, and continue cooking uncovered until legs are tender, 45 to 50 minutes more.

Transfer turkey legs to a serving platter. Skim fat from top of braising liquid and discard season braising liquid with salt and pepper, and spoon over turkey legs. Serve garnished with chopped parsley and thyme.

White Wine Braised Turkey Legs

The smell of turkey roasting and pies cooling is the ultimate holiday aphrodisiac for me. I adore this time of year and always have. That’s why years ago when I was a kid, I had a meltdown of epic proportions when my family couldn’t pull it together for Thanksgiving and replaced the beloved turkey with a store-bought freezer lasagna — the horror. It left a permanent mark on my holiday-loving soul and my dislike was so rememberable that even my cousins still talk about it to this day. Yes, even at 10-years-old, I was a glorified food snob. This year, I couldn’t wait any longer for the big day so I threw some turkey legs in a roasting pan and made these White Wine Braised Turkey Legs for dinner the other night. Such a simple dish that it can be made for a weeknight dinner or for a small holiday dinner (and save your guests from a frozen lasagna nightmare).

White Wine Braised Turkey Legs

These fall-off-the-bone tender turkey legs are incredibly simple to make and just require an overnight dry brine (optional but amazing), a quick sear, then a sit in the oven for a few hours. Here I have seared the turkey, a few carrots and leeks, then deglazed the pan with white wine and chicken stock. After that, cover and place in an oven for 2 hours until the turkey is practically falling apart. The best part of this recipe is that you can’t mess it up.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours! Don’t forget to check the Holiday Recipe Guide or the Pinterest board for some turkey day inspiration. Cheers!

wine and beer pairings
according to the sommelier and certified beer snob husband

wine: (red) Cru Beaujolais (best crus are Fleurie, Morgon, Brouilly, Julienas, or Moulin-a-vent), Pinot Noir, Spanish Garnacha, or”old vine” Cargnan

beer: Siason, Farmhouse, Lager, wheat beers, or even a Belgian Wild Ale

Roasted and Braised Turkey

That’s what this unconventional tactic from chef David Tanis of Chez Panisse makes us think. Tanis allows us to circumvent the usual turkey roasting conundrum—the maddening trickiness inherent in trying to cook a turkey until the dark meat is done without punting the white meat into dry oblivion—by bucking tradition and cooking the dark and white meat separately. The legs luxuriate in a long, slow, wine-sloshed bath with aromatics, simultaneously being braised and tenderized and infused with fragrance and flavor. The breast simply gets blasted by a hot oven, just long enough to plump it, no longer. Of course, this untraditional technique preempts the pretense of carving at the table. We’re not certain that’s such a bad thing.

One last thing. Tanis reminds us that the secret–well, the other secret–is to season the turkey overnight. So just a reminder, you’ll need to begin things the day before.–Renee Schettler Rossi

LC Essential Butcherspeak Note

Tanis savvily suggests you ask your butcher do the heavy chopping for you. Simply request-nicely, please–for the turkey legs to be lopped off with the thighs attached, for the wings to be hacked from the body, and for the breast to be cut into 2 boneless but skin-on halves. While you’re at it, smile sweetly and request that what remains of the carcass be chopped up into large pieces for your stock. (Make sure to request the giblets, too.)

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Roasted Turkey Thighs

Dark meat lovers will be thrilled with this tasty and easy turkey thighs recipe. The thighs, part of the bird's meaty legs are ideal for a small holiday dinner for which a whole turkey can be too much. Bone-in turkey thighs are also a great alternative to chicken thighs. Roasting turkey thighs is also an excellent way to cook this dark meat for other recipes, such as casseroles and salads. The meat is tender, moist, and flavorful it's not prone to drying out as easily as white meat does.

Thyme and sage, the traditional turkey herbs present in our recipe, can be replaced or added to by other flavorful ingredients—marjoram, savory, rosemary, and parsley are good substitutions, too. Use our recipe as a template and mix and match the suggestions in our recipe variations section to flavor the thighs to your liking.

The easy preparation frees up your time to make side dishes much of the time cooking this recipe is hands-off, as the oven does most of the work. Serve the thighs with other recipes that can be cooked at the same temperature, like a corn casserole or a baked pasta. Other delicious sides that can pair with the thighs include roasted or mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, balsamic Brussels sprouts, and cranberry sauce.

For this recipe, a meat thermometer is a good tool to have at hand to ensure the meat is thoroughly and safely cooked, which occurs when the thickest part of the thigh meat reaches 165 F. This recipe will double easily if you are serving more guests or want to freeze leftovers.


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