With a few more weeks of winter and snow lingering in some places, I thought I’d share one of my family’s favorite comfort foods for a cold winter night—turkey thighs braised in porter with root vegetables. While Alan does much of the cooking in my house, there are plenty of nights when cooking dinner becomes my job. And on those nights, I love to braise because after I get everything simmering, I can go back to my writing or whatever else I need to do. It’s the perfect cooking method for us multitaskers, and since it’s a one-pot dish, it leaves minimal clean-up. It also provides great leftovers. We always add too many vegetables and extra liquid, which we heat up the next day and eat as soup.
Now the Napak aren’t the biggest foodies on Awan, but they love their beer and cherish hardy, comfort food. When we adapted this recipe for the Napak, we did need to change our family recipe by leaving out chili peppers, which the Napak don’t grow. Without the chili, though, the dish seemed to lack something, so I decided to use horseradish. I researched recipes using horseradish, but they all used it in a cream sauce or to top gefilte fish. I didn’t find any that used horseradish in a braise. We tried it anyway and just love the result. By cooking it low and slow, the horseradish loses it harshness, which wouldn’t have worked in this recipe, but retains a subtle, yet distinctive flavor that completes the dish.
2 Tbs oil
4 turkey thighs
1 large onion- large dice
2 carrots- large dice
1 Tbs dry mustard
1 Tbs paprika
2 tsp sage
2 tsp thyme
1 Tbs fresh rosemary- minced
1 bottle of porter
2 cups mushroom stock (can substitute vegetable or chicken stock)
2-3 Tbs fresh horseradish- grated
2-3 gold beets
1 piece burdock root
1 med or 1/2 large celeriac
1. Heat a large, deep sauté pan or dutch oven on medium high heat. Add oil to pan. Season the turkey thighs with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, place the turkey thighs in the pan skin side down. Let the thighs sear for 3-5 minutes or until the skin turns golden and starts to crisp.
2. Turn down the heat to medium low and remove the turkey thighs. If you wish to reduce the amount of fat, pour off some of the rendered out fat from the turkey skin and discard. (We usually leave it for flavor.) Add the diced onion and carrot to the pan and sweat until the onion turns translucent. Add the mustard and paprika to the onions and carrots. Sweat for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add sage, thyme, and rosemary and deglaze the pan with a full bottle of porter. Add the mushroom stock and grated horseradish, raise the heat to high, and bring porter/stock mixture up to a boil.
4. Add the turkey thighs. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pan, and simmer for 35-40 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, cut the celeriac, beets, parsnips, and burdock into 1-inch cubes. Remove the turkey thighs from the pan and add the cubed vegetables to the liquid. Return the turkey thighs back to the pan and work them down into the vegetables until they become partially submerged in the liquid. (Removing and then returning the turkey from the pan allows the vegetables to submerge into the liquid and cook more thoroughly.) Continue to simmer for 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
6. Remove the turkey thighs. If you wish to thicken the liquid, turn up the heat and reduce it for several minutes. We usually leave the liquid unreduced. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the liquid by adding a little salt and pepper.
7. Spoon a serving of the vegetables onto a plate or into a bowl and either place an entire turkey thigh or slices of the turkey on top of the vegetables. Ladle some liquid over the turkey. We usually leave it at that, though the Napak like serving it over mashed or roasted potatoes. This also goes well served over rice or pasta.
Serves 4-8 depending on the size of the turkey thighs. Left over liquid and vegetables, as well as meat, can be reheated and served as soup.