This Thanksgiving, I tried yet another method for cooking the turkey. I braised it by breaking it down into its parts like a large chicken before cooking it. This allows the dark meat like thighs and legs to be cooked ahead of time since they take longer. Then the breast can be put it in the oven at the right time so everything comes out perfectly done to temp and incredibly juicy from roasting in the braising liquid. The other benefits are first, it is so easy to cut the turkey pieces for serving since they are already separated off the carcass. Second, the braising broth creates the most amazing base for making gravy. Give this method a try to become the star of your next Thanksgiving dinner.
- Turkey (ideally never frozen, aim for 1 pound per person but minimum 10 pounds if less than 10 people)
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup high temp searing oil like vegetable or peanut oil
- 4 cups turkey or chicken stock
- 2 cups each chopped onions, celery, and carrots
- The day before Thanksgiving, break the turkey down into 2 thighs, 2 legs, 2 wings, and 2 breasts. Keep the skins on all the pieces. Also keep the bone on the thighs, legs, and wings, but carve the breasts off the bone. For the wings, I like to just keep the single bone drumstick part. I use the wing tip and middle part in the stock.
- Take the carcass, extra wing parts, and even the neck and place in a large stock pot to make turkey stock. Follow this Turkey Stock Recipe.
- For the remaining turkey parts, season evenly with the salt and pepper mixture and place the dark meat in one deep-sided casserole dish and the breast meet in another.
- On the day of Thanksgiving, preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- In a large skillet, heat 1-2 tbsp of oil over medium high heat and brown the skin side of each turkey part for 8-10 minutes, then other side(s) 2-3 minutes per side.
- While the turkey is searing, cut the vegetables into 1/2 inch chunks.
- When the turkey is done searing, brown the vegetables in the same skillet in batches, 10-12 minutes per batch.
- Divide the cooked vegetables between the two casserole dishes. Don't worry about the raw turkey juice in the pans. They will cook in the oven and come to a safe temperature.
- Place the dark meat back in its dish on top of the vegetables and the white meat in the other. Pour the broth in the dishes so it comes 1/3 to 1/2 of the way up the side of the meat.
- Put the dark meat dish in the oven uncovered for 45 minutes. Cover the white meat dish and refrigerate to keep it at a safe temp.
- Then after the 45 minutes, add the white meat dish to the oven uncovered and cook for 30-45 minutes.
- Use a meat thermometer to check both the white meat and dark meat. The target temp is 160 degrees. 165 degrees is technically the safe temp but it will continue to heat up as it rests out of the oven.
- Once the target temp is reached, remove the dishes and place the turkey parts on a cutting board. Cover with foil to keep them warm while they rest.
- Drain the braising liquid using a mesh strainer into a mixing bowl. Turn 2-4 cups of the broth into an amazing turkey gravy by following this Turkey Gravy Recipe.
- Once the turkey has rested for 10-15 minutes, cut the breasts against the grain and slice up the dark meat for serving.
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