Herbaceous Turkey Thighs with Homestyle Gravy
I was never really a white-meat turkey eater, always opting for thighs, legs, and wings at Thanksgiving. For several years, I’ve been using the Julia Child method of de-boning and roasting turkey. She removed the backbone and the legs leaving the breast and wings assembled. Then she removed the femurs (the thigh bone) from the thighs, sprinkled fresh herbs, salt, and pepper inside them, and cooked the thigh/leg assemblies separately. It cooks in half the time and always comes out tender, juicy, and crispy.
When I went Keto (eating a ketogenic diet to reverse type 2 diabetes, lose weight, and generally get healthy), my first Thanksgiving came around and I decided to just make the thighs. As a caveat, I also cooked 2 split chicken breasts, which I brined in garlic salt water for a few hours before cooking. The results, for me and my turkey thighs anyway, were amazing.
After preheating the oven to 350 F, I started with four bone-in turkey thighs. I immediately took out the legs and started on the gravy by browning them in olive oil, salt, and herbs (sage and rosemary). Once they were good and brown, I added chopped garlic, poured in some water (and a little chicken stock), brought it to a boil, and then let it simmer for the rest of the day – about four hours.
I splayed out the thighs with the skin side down, sprinkled salt and pepper on them, and added fresh sage and rosemary. I then rolled them up, threw a little salt and pepper on top, and put them in the fridge until they were almost ready to roast.
I put the chicken breasts in a zip bag, added 1/4 cup of salt and 3 tbsp of garlic powder, filled it with water, gave it a shake, and put that in the fridge as well. When it was time to cook the turkey (about two hours before serving), I took out the chicken breasts and patted them dry with paper towels. I got out two roasting pans, and put a dollop (2 tbsp) of bacon grease in each one, and then spread the grease out evenly in the bottom of the pans. I placed the thighs in one pan and the breasts in another. I coated each piece of meat with olive oil, salt and pepper, and put them in the oven to bake.
After they’d been cooking for an hour and 15 minutes, I ran the stock through a strainer and let it cool down for at least 20 minutes. After 90 minutes of cooking time, I took the meat out of the oven, drained the liquid into the stock, and covered it to rest.
I use xanthan gum to thicken the stock for gravy. It has no carbs and no chalky aftertaste – a hallmark of flour-thickened gravy. I use 1/4 tsp of xanthan gum dissolved in 1 tsp olive oil for each cup of stock. I added the cooled stock and dissolved xanthan gum into a blender, put the cap on it, held on tight, and blended it. If you don’t let it cool sufficiently, blending will push steam up, blowing the lid off your blender, and throwing hot stock everywhere. Ask me how I know. Once blended, I poured the gravy back into the saucepan and simmered it, adding salt and pepper to taste.
The result: the most tender and tasty turkey smothered in the most amazing gravy you’ve ever tasted.
I introduced this recipe on my ketogenic lifestyle podcast with Richard Morris, 2 Keto Dudes.