Monday, February 21, 2011

What's in the rotation

When my parents married, in the late 40's, my father asked my mother...or so the story not serve the same dish on the same night every week. His mother had her routine of a pasta day, a fish day, and so on. He found that boring. She also had nine kids and a neighborhood grocery store and deli to manage. Yet, my father yearned for more excitement in his life and didn't want to know what was for dinner until he sat down at the table. Fortunately, for my mother, my parents ate out a lot due to numerous business dinners. That was back in the day when spouses where expected to join their husbands for a mix of social and business gatherings. My memories of family meals revolve around the tried and true basics of roast chicken, meat loaf, baked ham and eggplant parmesan (my favorite.) My father went through a cooking phase and that is when meals got real interesting....a topic for another blog.

My rotation of recipes is very eclectic. So, I've decided to streamline my recipe collection and begin to pull out those that my kids will remember as my classics. One candidate is Braised Turkey Thighs with Prunes and Olives. When I can't find turkey thighs, I use chicken thighs which require a lot less cooking time.

Good for a weekend supper or a cold and snowy week night dinner when you're working from home. Needs to braise in the oven for a few hours. Serves four.


4 bone-in, skin-on turkey thighs
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minnced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup pitted prunes, halved
1/2 cup pitted green olives, halved
1/4 cup capers
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Sprinkle turkey with salt and pepper.
Using a large, ovenproof saute pan, heat oil over medium-high. Place turkey pieces, skin down, in the pan. Cook until skin is crisp and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Turn turkey pieces and cook until other side is golden brown. Transfer to a plate. Remove and discard skin.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan. Return pan to burner, add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt, cook over medium heat until soft and golden. Stir frequently. Add garlic and thyme. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in brown sugar and bay leaves, add the wine, increase heat to high. Scrape bottom of pan with wooden spoon until any browned bits dissolve into the liquid. Add the broth and turkey with accumulated juices. Return to boiling, cover and braise in oven for about 1 3/4 hours until turkey is tender. Turn turkey pieces over after about one hour.

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer turkey to plate. Cover and set aside. Remove bay leaves from the liquid, allow liquid to cool for about 10 minutes. Spoon off the fat from the surface. Bring pan to boil, over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid reduces and thickens, about 10 -15 minutes. Add prunes, olives, capers and vinegar and any accumulated juices from the turkey. Adjust seasoning. Add most of the parsley. Return turkey to the sauce, reduce heat to low, cover the pan and heat gently to rewarm the turkey, about 15 minutes. Transfer turkey to a serving platter, spoon sauce over turkey, sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve.

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