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Turkey au vin

This is a great dish but there is no doubt it has fallen out of favour. More commonly made with chicken, making the better known 'coq au vin', this dish is invariably superb. Using the legs from a good free-range turkey will leave you with a breast which you can then roast perfectly without overcooking.


Divide the turkey legs into wing and thigh and set aside.

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy pan and fry the bacon pieces until browned. Transfer the bacon to a flameproof casserole. Then lightly brown the onions all over in the same pan and add these to the casserole. Dust the turkey pieces lightly with the seasoned flour, discarding any excess, and brown thees next, turning them several times until coloured and crisp. Pour over the brandy and, standing well back, set light to it (by tipping the pan towards the gas flame, if you are cooking on gas, or with a match if you are not). When the flames have subsided, transfer the turkey and all the juices in the pan to the casserole.

Return the pan to the heat and pour in the red wine, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan while the wine bubbles. Pour the boiling water over the chicken and then repeat the process with the stock or water (the job of deglazing is sure to be done by now, but it is good to add hot, not cold, liquid to the casserole to start the cooking). Now add the herbs, celery, garlic and tomatoes to the casserole and bring to a gentle simmer.

Cover and cook over a very low heat, or in a very low oven (120°C or Gas Mark 1/2) for 2 to 2.5 hours until the meat is completely tender.

Strain the stock into a clean pan, leaving the meat and vegetables, in the casserole, and boil the stock fast to reduce it a little to make a rich, intense gravy.

Return the turkey pieces to the finished sauce, along with the bacon pieces and vegetables, and bring to a very gentle simmer again. Allow to bubble gently for just a few minutes before serving. Serve with mash.

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  • 2 free-range turkey legs
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 250g salt pork, pancetta or bacon
  • 250g onions cut into quarters
  • Up to 50g plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1/2 wine glass of brandy
  • 500ml red wine
  • 500ml chicken stock or water
  • A bouquet garni of parsley stalks, bay and thyme
  • 4 celery sticks, cut into 3cm lengths
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage HQ