After Thanksgiving, when turkeys tend to go on the best sales of the year, my wife and I bought an organic 11 lb bird for $5.53. It was too good of a deal to pass up, but for the two of us, that is a lot of bird…roasting it whole was certainly not an option. So we carved it raw and froze the various cuts separately for future consumption.
Today, I find myself craving the flavors of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was my family’s big holiday when I was growing up, and the smells and tastes bring me back to all of those memories: Stuffed Animal Wars and Mario Kart (Super Nintendo!) tournaments with my sister and cousins, watching the Lions lose with my dad and uncles, the family football game affectionately known as “The Turkey Bowl.” Those are all memories now since we’re all grown up, but the one thing that I can still make tangible in the present is the aromas my mom always had wafting from the kitchen. So I defrosted the two turkey legs, and they are earmarked to be the centerpiece of tonight’s plate.
Since Thanksgiving meals are traditionally very heavy and starchy with potatoes, stuffing, squash, dinner rolls, etc., I’m modifying the sides tonight to still give that Thanksgiving feel, but in a much less “scale crushing” way. Tonight, the turkey is going to be paired with Spinach Stuffing Balls and Sage Mashed Cauliflower.
Time: 1-2 hrs (most of which is not “hands on” time, so you can use it to either prepare sides or to sit back, relax, and enjoy the developing aromas)
- Turkey Legs (1 per person). It is a fairly easy cut to find in the grocery store, but you can also do this with any cut of (adjust timing accordingly)
- Sage (fresh or ground)
- Dried Cranberries (1/4 cup or so for two legs should do…and be sure to keep leftovers for pork later on another night)
- Any Seasonings to give the turkey leg extra flavor while cooking. A few I really like are: Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Paprika, Thyme, Black Pepper, and/or White Pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Put the dried cranberries into a sauce pan and cover with warm water (they’ll need to stay in that for about an hour to rehydrate). You could use fresh cranberries, but they are a lot more tart and need much more attention to build into a glaze…and the dried ones are so good for snacking that you won’t have to worry about what to do with the leftovers.
- Rinse and pat dry your turkey, and season the skin with your selected spices and herbs.
- Roast the turkey for 1-2 hrs until you’ve achieved an internal temperature between 165 and 180 degrees F. There are two methods here to pick from…I generally always go with a cast iron pan sear before roasting meat, so that’s what I suggest…but if you opt to skip that, the meal will still come out really well
- Option 1 (a little quicker to cook): Heat a cast iron skillet, and pour some oil or melt a little butter to coat the pan. Then place your seasoned turkey skin side down for a few minutes to get a good sear. Then flip and do likewise on the other side. Then put the pan in the oven and roast until done (about 1 hour).
- Option 2: Place seasoned turkey in a roasting pan skin side up, and cover with foil. Place in oven, and roast for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and roast until done (another 1 hour-1:30).
- While the turkey is in the oven, it’s time to turn attention back to your now plump(ish) cranberries and to prepare the sauce.
- Blend the cranberries and water until smooth with your desired kitchen equipment, e.g. immersion blender, food processor, blender, Ninja. If using fresh sage, blend this in too…if using powdered sage, you can mix it in here or as the sauce simmers and cooks down.
- Simmer for 15-20 minutes until your sauce cooks down to your desired glaze consistency. During the simmer is a great time to play around with the sauce too…adding some honey or sugar for sweetness and extra glaziness (is that a word?) or some dijon mustard or ground white pepper for a little tang or flavour depth.
- If your sauce is still a little too liquidy to adhere to the turkey, you can always use the old corn starch trick to thicken…just mix a little corn starch with a bit of warm water (as close to equal parts as you can to dissolve the corn starch), and pour into your glaze. This will thicken quickly though, so do this once the turkey is done!
- When the turkey reaches a safe internal cooking temperature, remove from oven, and let sit for 5 minutes on a different surface than your pan…especially if you used cast iron since it is so good at heat retention.
- Plate, glaze, devour, and enjoy!