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Braised Turkey Legs wth Crisp Pancetta and Parsley

Scott Phillips

Servings: 6 to 8

Turkey legs cook up deliciously tender when braised. Just before serving, the meat is garnished with crisped pancetta, which gives it the same satisfying crunch as crackly, roasted skin.


  • 2 to 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 skin-on, bone-in turkey drumsticks (about 1-1/2 to 2 lb.)
  • 2 skin-on, bone-in turkey thighs (about 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 lb.)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and slivered
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 3 cups unsalted turkey or chicken stock
  • 1-1/4 cups dry white wine
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 oz. thinly sliced pancetta
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 320
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 130
  • Fat (g): 14
  • Saturated Fat (g): 4
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7
  • Cholesterol (mg): 155
  • Sodium (mg): 500
  • Carbohydrates (g): 4
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Sugar (g): 2
  • Protein (g): 35


  • In a large 7- to 8-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot, heat 2 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat. Season the drumsticks and thighs with salt and pepper. Working in batches, sear the turkey parts until well browned on both sides, 8 to 12 minutes per batch. Transfer the turkey to a rimmed baking sheet. Add the onion, garlic, cloves, bay leaves, and oregano to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock, wine, and pepper flakes, and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil. Return the turkey and any juice to the pot, reduce the heat to medium low, partially cover, and simmer gently until the turkey is very tender, 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Remove from the heat and let the turkey cool, covered, in the braising liquid for 1 hour.
  • Transfer the turkey to a cutting board. Remove and discard the skin, then take the meat off the bone in large pieces. Strain the sauce through a medium-mesh strainer into a saucepan and keep warm or, if making ahead, a heatproof storage container large enough to hold the sauce and the meat. Return the turkey to the sauce.
  • To serve, gently reheat the turkey and sauce, if necessary. Cook the pancetta in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, and let cool briefly. Crumble or coarsely chop the pancetta. Stir 1 Tbs. of the parsley into the turkey and sauce. Transfer the turkey and enough sauce to keep it moist to a rimmed serving platter. Transfer the remaining sauce to a gravy boat. Top the turkey with the pancetta and the remaining parsley. Serve with the sauce on the side.

Make Ahead Tips

The turkey may be cooked up to 2 days before serving. Remove the meat from the bones and refrigerate with the sauce in a covered container. When ready to serve, reheat and garnish with pancetta as directed above.


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Reviews (10 reviews)

  • springs9 | 04/12/2020

    Made this for Easter dinner. Shockingly good We were not expecting this dish to be so delicious. My husband came home with turkey legs. My response: what am I supposed to do with these? Found this recipe . Wow.

  • AllisonT | 11/29/2018

    Cooked as a supplement to a smoked turkey breast for Thanksgiving 2018. The meat was excellent, tender and flavorful. Heeding the advice of previous reviewers, I doubled the braising liquid and had over a quart left over, so I reduced it and used as the basis for my gravy. Definitely use the UNsalted stock if you try this (I didn't and had to adjust accordingly). The pancetta and parsley add the right amount of last-minute flavor. I made the recipe a day in advance so I just had to warm it for the big meal.

  • user-240295 | 10/09/2017

    We cooked this with the maple brined breast for Thanksgiving yesterday, and it was wonderful! We only cooked 1/2 portion because there was only 3 of us, so I also cut the braising liquid in 1/2. I will double the liquid next time and then reduce it.

  • kpdeyoung92 | 01/22/2017

    I am trying to rate thia recipie 5 stars, but I can't seem to save my star rating. This is my first time writing a review in over 5 years of using the site. That's how good this recipe is! I used the smallest recommended weight and broke down 2 smaller drumsticks and braised in 5 quart french oven, just fit but cooked wonderfully. Cooked the full ammount of time and stored overnight in the sauce, not separated as recipe called for. Reheated beautifully without the wxtra containers. I never strained the sauce but picked out bay leaf and whole spices at the table. No one minded, everyone was too busy raving about how good it was. Don't skimp on the parsley! Almost skipped the pancetta but at the request of guests cooked it up fast- the crunch was needed! PHENOMENAL!! My new thanksgiving go to

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