Braised Dark Meat Turkey

We love the complex flavors in this simple dish. Made in advance and reheated, or served hot from the oven, it is filling and satisfying. See the notes for info on making this in advance and reheating.

[Braised Dark Meat Turkey]

Braised Dark Meat Turkey

This recipe is based on one by Dave Lieberman.

Braised Dark Meat Turkey
Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 3 hours


  • 6 turkey drumsticks (about 5 lbs.)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, 1/2″ dice
  • 4 carrots, peeled, halved and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 4 stalks celery, trimmed, halved and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 12 oz. ale (that’s typically 1 bottle)
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 cup pitted oil-cured black olives
  • 2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary


  1. Position an oven rack in the bottom slot of the oven. Remove the other racks. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Pat the drumsticks dry and season with kosher salt and pepper.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large cast iron Dutch oven over high heat. Add the half of the drumsticks and brown on all sides. I cook for 2 minutes on the wide sides and 1 minute each on the narrow sides. Transfer the first 3 drumsticks to bowl and repeat with the second half of the drumsticks. Once again transfer to a bowl.
  4. When all the drumsticks are done check the oil left in the Dutch oven. If it has turned black then discard it, wipe out the pot and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. It it didn’t turn to sludge then keep it and continue. Reduce heat to medium.
  5. Add the onion, carrots and celery to Dutch oven. Sprinkle with kosher salt and stir to coat with oil. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the onions turn slightly translucent.
  6. Add the tomato paste and stir until well distributed. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occassionally.
  7. Add the broth, vinegar, beer and garlic. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
  8. Add the olives and rosemary springs. Nestle the drumsticks into the liquid. Do your best to submerge most of the turkey.
  9. Cover the Dutch oven and transfer to the preheated oven. Cook for 2 hours; check periodically to make sure the liquid covers the turkey. You may want to turn the drumsticks once halfway through the cooking.
  10. To check for doneness check to see how easily the turkey pulls off the drumstick. It should take next to no pressure. Serve with egg noodles tossed with a little olive oil.


If making in advance hold back about 1/2 the olives and add them the next day during reheating. When the turkey is done remove the Dutch oven and allow it to cool until it is comfortable to touch (about 2 hours). Take the opportunity to remove the meat from the bone and be sure to search for the pin-like bones among the meat. Transfer to a container with a tight lid and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

To reheat, return the turkey and sauce to the Dutch oven. If the sauce is very thick then add 1/2 cup of chicken broth to thin it out. Transfer the Dutch oven to a 300°F oven for about 1 hour.

I use Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale for this dish.

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