Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Garlic Rosemary & Lemon Braised Turkey Legs with Oyster Mushrooms and Couscous

Venison broke an almost decade long affair with vegetarianism (read about it here) followed only second by Thanksgiving turkey. Countless holidays came and went with side dishes heaped in the center of my plate while I tried to overt my eyes from the perfectly golden bird anchoring the entire spread. Green bean casserole and brothless stuffing will only get you so far before images of dark meat smothered in smooth gravy startle you from a restless slumber, as you gasp for breath from sweaty sheets.

Every year, as the sugar maples blush crimson, the anticipation of roasted turkey has a similar effect on me. Thanksgiving leftovers last for a day or two, stacked upon sourdough and adorned with remaining cranberry, or simmered in lemony soup, but the whole event is far too fleeting.
Many would agree, turkey would be welcome at the dinner table more often. Yes, you can buy ground turkey and deli meat anytime, but this is not the turkey I am referring to. The fresh, pure cuts prove difficult to come by, and because of this, many of us wouldn't know what to do with them anyway. Until this moment.

The sourcing issue has been solved (beautifully I may add) by East Fork Farm. Whole pastured turkeys are currently available for holiday pre-order, while ultra fresh cuts are available weekly, from thighs to drumsticks, to super meaty wings. Don't be afraid. Preparing is simple. This recipe uses cloves from two whole garlic bulbs, while browned lemons, white wine, and rosemary infused broth braise the legs to supple, fall-off-the-bone status. The braising liquid is then used to cook the couscous and create a silky gravy to drizzle over the meat.
Be prepared to greet your next holiday meal with a bit of competition.

Garlic Rosemary & Lemon Braised Turkey Legs with Oyster Mushrooms and Couscous:
*olive oil
*2 local bone-in turkey legs, rinsed and patted dry
*sea salt and pepper
*1 medium onion, halved and sliced
*2 organic lemons, halved
*cloves from two garlic bulbs, cloves separated and peeled
*3/4 cup dry white wine
*1 tomato, cored and chopped
*3-4 cups chicken broth
*3 rosemary sprigs
*2 tablespoons butter
*1 cup fresh oyster mushrooms, chopped
*1 cup French couscous
*2 tablespoons flour

Place a braising pan or heavy soup pot fitted with a lid over medium heat. Drizzle with olive oil. Brown turkey legs on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add onion to hot pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Saute until lightly golden. Add lemon halves, cut sides down. Allow to cook without stirring for a few minutes. Add garlic cloves. Stir contents of pan with a wooden spoon. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Pour in the white wine. Simmer until reduced by more than half. Add chopped tomatoes. Cook briefly, then return turkey to pan. Pour in enough broth to cover legs halfway. Place rosemary sprigs on top of the legs. Bring liquid to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cover.
Cook for about 2-3 hours or until turkey is loosened significantly from its bone. Remove turkey from pan, pull meat from bone and set aside.

Bring 1 1/3 cups cooking liquid to a gentle boil in medium saucepan. Add couscous. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 7-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, set a cast iron skillet with butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute until golden, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Remove garlic and rosemary from remaining braising liquid with a slotted spoon. Dissolve 2 tablespoons flour in 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid in a jar with a lid. Shake until no lumps remain. Bring strained cooking liquid to a simmer. Whisk in flour mixture. Simmer until thickened.

Serve turkey over couscous topped with fried mushrooms and drizzled with gravy. Give thanks and enjoy.

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