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America's Test Kitchen: Turkey Thigh Confit with Citrus Mustard Sauce (Ep 2201)

Turkey Thigh Confit with Citrus Mustard Sauce



WHY THIS WORKS: For silky, supple, evenly seasoned, full-flavored turkey confit, we started by processing onion, salt, pepper, sugar, and thyme in a food processor. Next, we coated the turkey thighs in this paste and let them cure for at least four days. As the thighs sat, the salt, sugar, and some water-soluble com- pounds in the aromatics gave the turkey a deeply savory flavor. We rinsed away the cure and oven-poached the thighs in duck fat until they were tender. The thighs could then be refrigerated for up to six days or immediately browned and served with our bright and tangy citrus-mustard sauce.


3 large onions, chopped coarse (4¾ cups)

12 sprigs fresh thyme

2 ½ tablespoons table salt for curing 4 ½ teaspoons sugar

1 ½ teaspoons pepper

4 pounds bone-in turkey thighs

6 cups duck fat, chicken fat, or vegetable oil, for confit

1 garlic head, halved crosswise

2 bay leaves

½ cup orange marmalade

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

¾ teaspoon grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons juice

¼ teaspoon table salt

⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

BEFORE YOU BEGIN: Start this recipe at least five days or up to 12 days before serving (almost all the time is hands-off ). The proper measurement of salt is crucial here. Be sure to use table salt, not kosher salt, and to measure it carefully. To ensure proper seasoning, make sure that the total weight of the turkey is within 2 ounces of the 4-pound target weight; do not use enhanced or kosher turkey thighs. Though duck fat is traditional, we found that chicken fat or even vegetable oil will work nicely. Reserve the duck fat or chicken fat and remaining stock in step 5 for further use; used vegetable oil should be discarded. It is convenient to split up the cooking over several days, but if you prefer to do all the cooking in one day, go straight from step 2 to step 5 without letting the turkey cool.

1. TO CURE: Process onions, thyme sprigs, 2½ tablespoons salt, sugar, and pepper in food processor until finely chopped, about 20 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Spread one-third of mixture evenly in bottom of 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Arrange turkey thighs, skin side up, in single layer in dish. Spread remaining onion mixture evenly over thighs. Wrap dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 6 days (whatever is most convenient).

2. TO COOK: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Remove thighs from onion mixture and rinse well (if you don't have a garbage disposal, do not allow onion pieces to go down drain). Pat thighs dry with paper towels. Heat fat in large Dutch oven over medium heat to 165 degrees. Off heat, add turkey thighs, skin side down and in single layer, making sure thighs are completely submerged. Add garlic and bay leaves. Transfer to oven, uncovered, and cook until metal skewer inserted straight down into thickest part of largest thigh can be easily removed without lifting thigh, 4 to 5 hours. (To ensure that oven temperature remains steady, wait at least 20 minutes before retesting if turkey is not done.) Remove from oven.

3. Uncover pot. Heat pot over medium-low heat until fat is melted, about 25 minutes. Increase heat to medium, maintaining bare simmer, and continue to cook until thickest part of largest thigh registers 135 to 140 degrees, about 30 minutes longer. (If turkey has been cooked in vegetable oil, heat pot over medium heat, maintaining bare simmer, until thickest part of largest thigh registers 135 to 140 degrees, about 30 minutes.)

4. TO SERVE: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. While oven heats, crumple 20-inch length of aluminum foil into loose ball. Uncrumple foil, place in rimmed baking sheet, and top with wire rack. Using tongs, gently transfer thighs, skin side up, to prepared wire rack, being careful not to tear delicate skin. Set aside. Strain liquid through fine-mesh strainer into large bowl. Working in batches, pour liquid into fat separator, letting liquid settle for 5 minutes before separating fat from turkey stock. (Alternatively, use bulb baster to extract turkey stock from beneath fat.) Transfer 4 teaspoons turkey stock to small bowl; add marmalade; and microwave until mixture is f luid, about 30 seconds. Stir in mustard, lime zest and juice, salt, and cayenne. Transfer to serving bowl.

5. Transfer thighs to oven and roast until well browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer thighs to cutting board, skin side up, and let rest until just cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.

6. Flip 1 thigh skin side down. Using tip of paring knife, cut along sides of thighbone, exposing bone. Carefully remove bone and any stray bits of cartilage. Flip thigh skin side up. Using sharp chef's knife, slice thigh crosswise ¾ inch thick. Transfer to serving platter, skin side up. Repeat with remaining thighs. Serve, passing sauce separately.

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Photo Credit: America’s Test Kitchen