This week, I was perusing the poultry case at my local grocery story and came across a trove of turkey—whole birds, chopped-up drumsticks, whole turkey wings, necks, a variety of different parts wrapped in plastic and all on sale at an attractively reduced rate. It appeared that the market was trying to offload its surplus turkey in the wake of Thanksgiving, which is something that apparently happens every year (though I hadn’t noticed until this one).
For me, it was an unexpected treat. I love turkey; its deep, somewhat gamey flavor appeals to me more than chicken—not that they should be compared, necessarily. Still, I feel that we don’t eat turkey enough throughout the year. For some reason, it isn’t the norm(and I’m not talking about cold cuts and ground turkey). I understand that it’s difficult to roast an entire bird, but turkey breasts, thighs, legs and wings are substantial and can serve as a good meal—or two—on their own. If you like eating turkey, and for cheap, the weeks following Thanksgiving and leading up to Christmas are an excellent time to stock up on this delicacy.
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And here’s the thing: you don’t need to roast turkey in order to enjoy it. Because the leg is my favorite part of the turkey, I lugged a whole mess of chopped drumsticks home from the grocery store. I’ll probably go back and snatch up some necks to make a richly flavored soup (à la Michael Dukakis, the former governor of Massachusetts, who collects turkey carcasses after Thanksgiving so he can make soup for his family throughout the year). But for now, I’m into braising, or at least faux-braising (because sometimes you don’t want to wait that long).
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Last night, loosely following an old recipe of Alison Roman’s for braised turkey legs, I browned five or so drumstick pieces (heavily salted and peppered) in a pan with some oil, which made my small Brooklyn apartment smell very good. I chopped up some garlic, carrots, and celery and added it to the pan, along with a bay leaf, thyme, parsley and whole peppercorns. Then, I poured in a few glugs of white wine along with some leftover chicken stock I had in the fridge, covered the pan with tinfoil, and let it simmer—and reduce—for about an hour.
Roman’s recipe suggests braising the meat longer (and in a pot, not a pan), but I was hungry and didn’t feel like waiting. The result was lovely all the same. While the turkey could have been more tender (my impatience!) the broth that resulted from the ingredients stewing
for a while was immensely satisfying, particularly when I dipped some bread into it. I’m looking forward to experimenting with the rest of my quarry in the coming weeks. And if you’re into turkey recipes, as well, I suggest you get yourself to your local grocery store to see if there’s any turkey still on sale. It probably won’t last for long.
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