Easy Roasted Turkey Legs & Thighs with Pan Gravy
I don't know who roasts a turkey on any other day of the year besides Thanksgiving. Truth be told, I do not like the process, even for the holiday. It takes forever, the white meat always gets dried out (I personally don't even want any white meat, thanks), and you end up with more turkey than you've ever wanted in your life.
This recipe, though, allows you to have delicious roast turkey with way less effort, time, and well, meat. Plus, it ensures you only get dark meat, which makes a girl like me very happy.
Now, I spend Thanksgiving every year with Bimpy who famously and with endless pride gets his turkey for free with points at Shop Rite. I would never ever rob him of the experience of carving (which he does) his hard earned free bird, so we do roast a whole Turkey on Thanksgiving. He breathes heavily the whole time, and says "I should have been a surgeon" approximately 13 times while handling multiple utensils in his greasy hands. It's an amazing tradition.
This Thanksgiving, though, I will sadly not be with family. Even though I don't like roasting a whole turkey, I love that Bimpy does, so I will miss that. It's perhaps the only silver lining in not being able to spend the holiday with family. That and being able to gleefully roast a reasonable amount of turkey for a reasonable amount of time in the oven. I may still need to call Bimpy just to hear him utter his famous surgeon line, though...
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
Turkey Legs and Thighs
WHAT YOU'LL DO
Here's the deal. We are gonna go FULL step-by-step with photos with this recipe, as it's truly the best way in my opinion. You just gotta see it to believe it, ya know?
Make it step-by-step with me below!
1. Take your turkey parts out of the fridge an hour before cooking. They should be close to room temperature before you place them in the oven. Speaking of the oven, bring her to 350º.
Remember, we are doing legs and thighs here, as pictured above. If you want to do white meat, you can do turkey breast or tenderloin along with the legs and thighs. You will just need to cook for a shorter time period and to a different internal temperature. See step 5 for more.
2. Pat your meat dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. This will help your meat crisp up as it roasts.
3. Using your fingers, spread PLENTY of softened unsalted butter under AND on top of the skin of your turkey. You will have to do a little work to pull the skin back, but this is part of the fun.
4. Generously salt and pepper your meat as well.
5. I am using two pans here. I have my turkey legs (not yet salted or peppered, but it happened) in this smaller pan. Depending on how much turkey you are cooking, you can roast your turkey parts in one or several pans.
Roast the turkey legs and thighs for about 60-90 minutes. More than most things you place in your oven, turkey needs to be checked in on regularly. You really don't want dry turkey, and it happens easily!
Also, you will want to rotate your pans a few times in the oven to ensure even roasting.
The ideal internal temperature for eating dark meat is 175º, so I pull mine out at 170º as it will cook a bit longer after you pull it out of the oven. You would ideally use a meat thermometer here, sticking it into a thick part of the turkey to get an accurate read. You can also slice into the meat and if the juices run clear, you are good.
Like I said, I don't LOVE the white meat on a turkey but if you decided to add some to your pan, 160º is the edible temperature, so pull it out of the oven at 155º. It would be smart to put the white meat in a different pan so you can pull it out entirely when the meat is done, likely before your dark meat.
6. Look at these gorgeous perfectly roasted pieces of turkey! Remove them from your pan(s) and cover them to rest.
7. Ok, now we make the pan gravy! You will need to save ALL the juices and ALL the crispy browned bits on your pans.
Gravy is capable of provoking massive anxiety because of its need to be made in that rushed space between pulling the turkey out to rest and getting warm dinner on the table. But listen to me—you can do this! Try to isolate some time to focus on it solely, so you can get the hang of it. Maybe even put your AirPods in and listen to some jazz.
8. Let your juices sit in a pyrex or other container for about 5 minutes, or until the fat separates and rises to the top. Skim the fat off your juices. You want as much clear juice as possible.
9. Place your pan on your stovetop and turn your burners to medium heat. Pour your juices into your pan and let it simmer for a few minutes.
9. Using your whisk or a scraper, begin to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan and get all of them off and into the liquid. There is so much flavor is in these bits, so get every single last one. If you used multiple pans, congregate all the bits into your one gravy pan!
PLEASE make sure your pan is stable while scraping the bits! You may not be used cooking in a roasting pan on your stove top and because I am your mother, I say SAFETY FIRST.
10. There is a good chance you will not have enough juices in your pan to make the amount of gravy you want, so here is where you can add turkey or chicken stock to your pan! It's the perfect way to make your pan juices go further.
11. Place 2 tablespoons of flour into your empty pyrex, and ladle about half of a cup of juices into it.
12. Using a whisk, make a thick paste from your juices and flour.
13. Add your paste into the pan, whisking furiously and sautéing until your gravy is bubbling begins to thicken.
This will take a little time, so don't rush it. If you get to a place where your gravy just isn't thick enough, you can gently add more flour. Just be sure to whisk it in as you add to avoid lumps!
14. There you have it, gorgeous, thick, delicious pan gravy. Grab your favorite gravy boat (this one is from my absolute favorite, heath ceramics), and let's have a gravy party.
Worth noting that gravy can be made in advance and reheated, depending on how you are pacing your meal.
15. Look at our girl! She's perfect. All those little brown bits are flavor explosions (is this a Gushers ad?) in your mouth!
May you drown yourself and your guests in gravy. No survivors. Enjoy!