Sunday, January 27, 2013

Turkey Drumsticks with Veggie Gravy

Plate with Turkey Drum, Mashed Potatoes, and Gravy
Serious Comfort Food

Recipe adapted from Meals for One or Two


I’ve been wanting to share this wonderfully retro recipe from this classic 1978 cookbook ever since I started Seasonal Eating in 2011. Turkey drumsticks are baked with a wintry mix of finely chopped celery, carrot, and onion. Then the veggies are boiled down into a chunky gravy, flavored with catsup and paprika. The meat stays moist and lends its juice to the gravy because – get this – it’s baked in an oven bag! Just like Mom or Grandma used to make. How fun is that?

Platter of Drumsticks topped with Gravy
Dinner is Served
Meals for One or Two was designed for empty-nesters and people who live alone, but ironically the recipes can be doubled for families or singles who like to cook once and enjoy leftovers. I doubled this recipe, and updated it by making the “finely chopped” veggies in the food processor. If I weren’t enamored of the oven bag idea, I’d use a tightly covered casserole instead. The bag does, however, make short work of transferring the veggies to the pot to make gravy, and makes cleanup a breeze. Back in 1978, that would have given us time to put on the roller skates and beat the crowds to the disco, but that’s another story.

Bag of Turkey and Veggies REady to Cook
Retro Paradise
Note that the size of turkey drumsticks these days isn’t what it used to be. The original recipe indicates that one drumstick weighs 1½ lbs.  At my local market these days they weigh about half as much. Smaller drums cook faster, fit more easily into a pan, and are more tender. Proportions of turkey to gravy can vary a bit, so the weight of turkey can vary somewhat. Bottom line: as long as turkey and veggies fit into baking dish with a bit of room to spare, recipe will work.

Full Oven Bag Before Emptying into Pot
From Bag to Gravy Pot
Poultry chefs will notice that the temperature of the cooked turkey (180 – 190 degrees F.) seems high. This is so that the veggies will be sufficiently cooked and gravy flavored by the meat juices. Since this is a wet-cooking method, the turkey still comes out moist and tender.

Gravy notes: you will be boiling the heck out of the veggie mixture for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, to make the gravy. Have a plan to keep the turkey warm during this time. Use a deep soup pot to minimize splashes. I also wear oven mits. Instead of using flour, you might experiment with liquefying the gravy with an immersion blender. My husband vetoed this idea, because he prefers the original chunky gravy style, which also looks attractive and unusual.

Catsup and other Gravy Flavorings
Gravy Color and Flavor
Oven bag notes: follow the directions on your oven bag’s packaging. According to what I’ve read, they can explode. Essentially, you coat the inside of the bag with flour and cut a few little slits in the top. But check your particular bags for any other specifics.

Final note: mashed potatoes are absolutely heavenly with this recipe. Enjoy!

Layer of Veggie Mixture in Oven Bag
First Layer in Bag: Veggie Mixture
Turkey Drumsticks with Veggie Gravy
serves 4 - 6

1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped carrot
¼ - 1/3 cup natural catsup
¾ tsp. salt
1 tsp. sweet paprika
¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. all purpose flour
2 bay leaves
4 turkey drumsticks, about 3 lbs.
¼ cup water
1/3 cup dry white wine
½ tsp. bouillon granules or powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 – 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 – 2 tbsp. cold water

Combine chopped celery, onion, and carrot in a medium-size mixing bowl. In a small bowl, stir together ¼ cup catsup, salt, paprika, and pepper. Stir catsup mixture into veggie mixture. If mixture is too dry to hold together, stir in 1 – 2 tbsp. additional catsup.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spoon 1 tsp. flour into oven bag and shake around to lightly coat the inside. This apparently prevents the bag from exploding, so don’t skip this step.

Place bag in an 8” x 11” baking pan, or whatever size will fit the drumsticks comfortably. Spread half of the veggie mixture in the bottom of the bag. Add bay leaves. Layer turkey drumsticks over veggies. Top with remaining veggie mixture.

Stir together water, wine, bouillon, and dried oregano. Pour into bag carefully, to one side so it doesn’t disturb the veggie layer.

Close oven bag with its plastic tie. Cut ½ inch holes in the top of bag as directed on bag labeling.

Put turkey into oven on middle rack. Be sure that the oven bag is not hanging over the side of the baking dish, and that it has plenty of room to expand while cooking. Remove oven rack above it if necessary.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour, or until turkey is done and veggies are cooked. If drumsticks are large, they can take up to 1½ hours to cook. Check with a meat thermometer threaded through one of the holes in the bag. Temperature should be about 180 - 190 degrees.

All ingredients except the turkey
Ingredients from the Winter Pantry

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