The best stewed turkey recipe! Tender slow-cooked turkey thigh pieces in a comforting onion and vegetable sauce; this is the perfect winter stew!
This stewed turkey is really amazing! I make lots and lots of stews, and I love all of them, but this one is one of my favorites. At least, when it comes to turkey stew or turkey goulash, I've never had any that was better!
Slow-cooking or smothering those turkey meat pieces in the sauce will make them incredibly tender, and the gravy is thick and rich – an absolute delight!
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What do you need?
- Definitely dark meat, preferably thigh. Leg/drumstick is fine as well, but I think the thigh is the best choice.
- Don't use turkey breast; it will become very dry. The breast is not suitable for long stewing.
- If you can buy chopped thighs is great, but chances are you won't be able to do that. At least, I have never seen any.
- I always remove the meat from the bones myself and use the bones and the small leftover scraps to make turkey bone broth.
- Lots of onions, about 750 g/ 1.7 lb, carrots, red bell pepper, and garlic.
- Marjoram, thyme, sweet and hot paprika powder, bay leaves, salt, and pepper.
- I used rendered turkey fat because I have it, and it is a great fit for this stewed turkey recipe. We buy a huge bird every November, and I use everything; I even chop the skin and render it, fry the liver, and make giblet stew.
- However, vegetable oil and butter can be used instead.
Other ingredients: turkey or chicken stock, honey, balsamic or red wine vinegar, and red wine. Red wine is great, but if you don't have it or don't want to use it, replace it with the same amount of extra stock.
How to make turkey stew?
Another thing I like very much about this recipe is that I don't have to brown the meat before I start with everything else. Browning the meat is not difficult, but it takes some time, an extra step I am happy to skip from time to time. I suppose you could do it if you wish, but I've tried both ways and never noticed any difference, so I let it be.
- Remove the meat from the bones and chop it into chunks. Set aside. (1)
- Quarter the onions and slice the quarters thinly. (2,3)
- Chop the carrots and the pepper. (4)
- Heat the fat in a large thick-bottomed pot, like a Dutch oven.
- Cook the onions for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. They should get softer and be slightly golden but not brown. (1)
- Add honey and stir well. Let caramelize slightly for about 3 minutes. (2,3)
- Stir the chopped vegetables in the pan, and grate the garlic on top. Add the marjoram, thyme, both paprika sorts, bay leaves, some salt, and pepper. Stir well. (4,5)
- Pour in the wine and let it bubble for a couple of minutes.
- Add the meat chunks and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until they change their color on all sides. The pot will be rather crowded but don't worry about it; it's fine. (6)
- Pour the stock into the pan, stir, turn the heat down to low, cover the pot, and cook for 50 to 60 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Check after about 50 minutes; the meat should be really soft. If it is not yet, give it more time, it will become really soft eventually. And you really can't overcook the turkey stew.
- When the meat is soft, remove the lid and increase the temperature slightly to allow the sauce to thicken a little. I never feel the need to thicken it with cornstarch, but you can if you feel that the sauce is not thick enough.
- If you want to do that, stir 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 2-3 tablespoons of cold water (or enough to get a thick yet pourable paste) in a small bowl. Make some space in the pot by pushing away some meat chunks and veggies, and slowly start pouring the slurry into the sauce while whisking continuously.
- You might not need all the slurry; whisk some in, stir well, and see if you can stop or add more. The sauce should coat the meat nicely, but it should not become too thick.
- Adjust the taste with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and vinegar.
Can you make the stew ahead?
- You can serve the stewed turkey immediately, or you can reheat it as often as you like.
- The turkey stew keeps well in the fridge for about 3-4 days.
- You can also freeze the leftovers in airtight containers for up to three months. Defrost slowly in the fridge and reheat well before serving.
What to serve with it?
- All the good things that you usually serve with stew or goulash.
- A very German way of serving this dish is with potato or bread dumplings and German red cabbage.
- The stew is also delicious with nokedli, spätzle, or other noodles, preferably a wide noodle kind.
- You can also make regular mashed potatoes or polenta, which is always great with any kind of saucy dish. Or you can serve the turkey stew with crusty bread.
More turkey recipes
- 2.5 lbs turkey thigh meat 1,2 kg (Note 1)
- 1.5 lb onions 750 g, about 2 large ones
- 2 carrots about 150 g/ 3.5 oz
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon butter Note 2
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika powder
- 1 teaspoon hot paprika powder more or less to taste, the stew should not be too hot
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ cup red wine 125 ml
- 1 cup turkey or chicken stock 250 ml
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Prepare ingredients: Remove the meat from the bones, chop into chunks. Quarter the onions and slice the quarters thinly. Chop the carrots and the pepper.
- Saute: Heat the fat in a large Dutch oven or another wide thick-bottomed pot. Cook the onions for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until they are softer and slightly golden, but not brown.
- Caramelize: Add honey and let caramelize slightly for about 3 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add the prepared vegetables, grate the garlic on top. Add the marjoram, thyme, both paprika sorts, bay leaves, some salt, and pepper. Pour in the wine, stir to combine, and let bubble for about 2 minutes.
- Add the meat pieces and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until they change their color on all sides.
- Simmer: Pour the stock into the pan, stir, turn the heat down to low, cover the pot and cook for 50 to 60 minutes, stirring regularly. Check after about 50 minutes, the meat should be really soft. If it is not yet, give it more time, it should become really soft.
- Reduce sauce: Once the meat is tender, remove the lid and increase the temperature slightly to allow the sauce to thicken a little. You can help it thicken with corn starch, but I never had to.
- Adjust the taste with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and vinegar.
- You will need this amount of meat after removing the bone. So, if you buy bone-in turkey thigh, you should have about 1.4 – 1.6 kg/ 3 – 3.6 lbs; a little more or less is perfectly fine.
Don't be tempted to use breast meat; it will get dry.
- If available, use rendered turkey (goose or pork) fat/lard.