Cast Iron

Thanksgiving Osso Buco

October 21, 2012
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

What to make on Thanksgiving when turkey is a bit too much, when you are planning a romantic dinner for two, when your friends do not like white meat, or simply when you are up for something a little bit more adventurous than just a good old roasted bird. This is a dish that preserves the spirit of the Thanksgiving meal, without really having to do the entire thing. —QueenSashy

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: QueenSashy is a data scientist by day, James Beard-award nominated food blogger by night.
WHAT: An osso buco that's spread its wings.
HOW: Brown turkey legs in olive oil, then tuck them into a casserole dish with carrots, apricots, cranberries, and all sorts of fall spices, and cook in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Serve warm—with lots of sauce spooned over top.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This is one of those dishes that is simple to prepare and rewards your (minimal) efforts by filling the house with appetizing, homey smells as it cooks. We served it over couscous which was a perfect accompaniment to the studded bits of sweetness from the apricots and cranberries. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 pounds turkey drumsticks, cut crosswise into 1 1/2 inch thick pieces (ask your butcher to do it unless you have a chain saw, or like to suffer)
  • 1 finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 diced carrots
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 8 diced Turkish apricots
  • 16 dried cranberries, halved
  • 1 cup hard cider
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. In a large cast iron casserole or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the turkey pieces with salt and pepper and brown them nicely, about two minutes per side.
  3. Remove the turkey from the pan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, until the onion is very soft and slightly caramelized, for about five minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for another minute. Add the carrots and cook for another five minutes. Stir in the apricots, cranberries, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cider. Place the turkey pieces back into the casserole, coat with the sauce, and bring to simmer.
  4. Cover the casserole with a lid and put it in the oven. Cook until the meat is very tender and begins to fall of the bones, for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (If it becomes dry during cooking, feel free to add a bit more liquid.)
  5. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve warm with mashed potatoes and the sauce spooned on top.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • luvcookbooks
  • dmichaan
  • Qpearls
  • Scribbles
  • Hipimama
Aleksandra aka QueenSashy is a scientist by day, and cook, photographer and doodler by night. When she is not writing code and formulas, she blogs about food, life and everything in between on her blog, Three Little Halves. Three Little Halves was nominated for 2015 James Beard Awards and the finalist for 2014 Saveur Best Food Blog Awards. Aleksandra lives in New York City with her other two halves, Miss Pain and Dr. V.

53 Reviews

missshar October 11, 2020
I love this recipe, and I wanted to try to make it tomorrow. However, I can't seem to find hard cider in stock at the moment. What can I replace the cider with?
Robyn O. October 11, 2020
Regular apple cider works. I’ve even used white wine and had great results.
missshar October 11, 2020
Thanks so much! White wine also sounds like a delicious substitute!
QueenSashy October 11, 2020
I was about to suggest half cider (or apple juice) and half white wine to cut into the sweetness. Whatever you decide, I think both will work.
missshar October 12, 2020
Thanks so much guys. We didn't have any cider on hand, so I ended up using white wine, vegetable broth, some dried figs, and half an apple. It turned out amazing! My family isn't a huge an of turkey meat, so I used chicken. I also adapted the recipe for tofu and that was lovely too! Definitely a recipe that I'll repeat!
ncm October 3, 2016
This sounds delicious, and I am going to try it, but why did you call it Osso Buco? In Italy, that name is only used for beef shanks, never turkey, and the main attraction - the marrow - is not really feasible with turkey bones...
QueenSashy October 3, 2016
You are totally right. But it is the spirit of osso buco we are after, because the drumsticks are cut crosswise, so that the bone in the center is exposed, and when the dish is done, it will bear striking resemblance to osso buco. But point taken, I should have put quotation marks or perhaps added "fake" to the name of the dish
btglenn November 5, 2017
It is not even the Spirit of Osso Buco when you add cinnamon, apricots and cranberries! Call it Turkish Turkey Stew with sawed up turkey legs. Osso Buco is not sweet. It is a meaty stew composed of sawed up veal legs with tomato and onion, topped with a gremolata of grated lemon and parsley.
Lizzie H. December 8, 2019
I just flagged that comment totally on accident! So sorry
Andrea D. August 17, 2016
I love the idea of this, but should there be a gremolata to serve with this? What riff on the traditional gremolata would complement the turkey? I'm dreaming of something that includes grated fresh horseradish? I dunno... I'd love QueenSashy and others' suggestions. Thanks!
Robyn O. February 5, 2016
I used this recipe to make a beef shank Osso Buco--and substituted dates for the apricots and mead for the cider-so incredibly good! I served it
at our Friendsgiving along with a Moroccan style roasted duck, and the pot was scraped clean!
QueenSashy February 5, 2016
Robyn it's a magical combination, thank you for sharing!
luvcookbooks November 28, 2015
I made this recipe for Thanksgiving, since I am not really fond of roast turkey. It was so good I would make it when its NOT Thanksgiving. Thanks for posting!
QueenSashy November 28, 2015
Meg, yay -- so glad you liked it and many thanks for letting me know. I am in your camp, we rarely make the whole bird for Thanksgiving, therefore the recipe.
Sheree L. November 7, 2015
I was thinking of doing this with duck. What changes would be necessary?
Greenstuff November 7, 2015
Cool idea, and I'm sure QueenSashy will let you know what she'd do. I cook a lot of duck legs, so I thought I'd chime in as well. Duck legs are smaller than turkey and have a lot more fat. So I would leave them whole, prick them all over, just season them lightly and roast them at 300-325 for an hour and a half or so, and remove the rendered fat to use for something else. Then, either I'd add all that other stuff, roast for another half hour to an hour, remove the duck legs, reduce the sauce, and add it back. Or, more likely, I'd just slow-roast the duck legs on their own and make and reduce the sauce separately. In fact, that second option would closely mimic a recipe I have from Normandy, in which the duck legs are slow-roasted with a little slather of mustard and served with a reduced hard cider sauce. Good luck with it, can't wait to see what others think.
Sheree L. November 7, 2015
I meant to type duck/breasts but that may be too fatty as well. I did not mean I would slice little duck legs! Thanks for the suggestions.
Greenstuff November 7, 2015
Okay. The flavors would work as a separate sauce for duck breasts. But besides the fat, duck breasts are not as great candidates for braising or other long, slow cooking as the legs would be.
dmichaan December 25, 2013
Have you made this ahead of time? It is one of those dishes that improves as it sits or best made to eat right away?!
QueenSashy December 25, 2013
I like it the best right away. However, whenever we have big dinner and I cannot handle everything in one day, I make it the day before. It will be tasty and the flavors will stay about the same, but it will not improve as it ages. One thing to do when you make it ahead is to increase on the liquids, because the turkey will absorb.
Qpearls November 11, 2013
This looks great! Can you do this in a slow cooker?
QueenSashy November 11, 2013
Hmm, not sure -- I have never tried it in a slow cooker... Sorry.
Yvonne V. December 18, 2016
I tried it in a slow cooker and it was DELICIOUS! I had four big turkey legs, so I doubled everything except the apple juice, and cooked it on slow for 10 hours. Since I was cooking for French guests, I only used the allspice, with a tbs of thyme and dropped the extra cinnamon and nutmeg. I also added cooked chesnuts and smoked bacon... I would have called it a turkey "tagine"!
dubs October 24, 2017
When cooking in the slow cooker, did you have the turkey legs cut as specified or cook them whole?
Yvonne V. October 25, 2017
I left them whole.
QueenSashy October 25, 2017
dubs, you can absolutely leave them whole. Cutting is really for the presentation. Also, if the turkey legs are on the smaller side, cutting them does not make much sense, it only works with larger ones.
dubs October 25, 2017
thank you!!
Scribbles November 11, 2013
Not sure how I missed this a year ago…better late to the party than never! I love turkey and have been thinking of recipes for times other than Thanksgiving or Christmas - can't wait to try this - Thanks!
QueenSashy November 11, 2013
Thank you.
mariel November 11, 2013
It works well with tempeh, too.
This new Thanksgiving Turkey Song is definitely fun to listen to and can get you in the mood for Thanksgiving food prep. Happy cooking! Just look up Thanksgiving Turkey Song by Ben Lovenheim. It's on youtube.
mariel November 11, 2013
It works well with tempeh, too.
Just came across this new Thanksgiving Turkey Song that if fun to listen to get you in the mood for Thanksgiving food prep. Happy cooking, and happy listening!
mzchivy November 16, 2012
I made this yesterday using chicken thighs. Excellent recipe. The whole smelled great while this was in the oven. Can't wait to try it with turkey. Great recipe QueenSashy!
QueenSashy November 17, 2012
Thank you!
Hipimama November 16, 2012
Can this recipe work with chicken meat??
QueenSashy November 16, 2012
Yes definitely, but it will require some changes to the recipe. You will have to cut down on the time in the oven (I have not tried this with chicken, but guessing about 35-45 min or so). Also, since chicken will require less time in the oven, you will end up with more liquid-y sauce, which you can then reduce on the stove...
fearlessem November 9, 2012
For anyone about to make this, make extra! When I tested this recipe I made it with four turkey drumsticks, which was about 3 pounds. I increased everything else by about 50%. Trust me, you're going to want more than just two drumsticks worth when you taste how good this is!
QueenSashy November 9, 2012
Kukla November 9, 2012
Congratulations on the CP QueenSashy! I know how delicious this dish is; I have been making a very similar recipe for many years. The only difference in my recipe is, I cook it with quince quarters or firm Bask pears halves and use whine instead of dried fruits and cider; and when it is hard to find turkey legs, I make this dish with turkey wing drummets. Next time I will definitely try your recipe.
QueenSashy November 9, 2012
I am definitely going to try it with pears!
EmilyC November 9, 2012
Congrats on the CP -- this is a gorgeous dish!
QueenSashy November 9, 2012
EmilyC, thank you!
fiveandspice November 9, 2012
Congrats on the CP QueenSashy! This is a great recipe!
QueenSashy November 9, 2012
Thank you!
Greenstuff November 8, 2012
I've had my eye on this one--I love your cross-cutting the legs and keeping it mind for a mid-winter party.
QueenSashy November 8, 2012
Thank you Greenstuff! Please let me know how the dish turned out. And good luck with the party.
AntoniaJames November 8, 2012
So, so glad this received CP honors. I'd wanted to test it, but could not find any turkey legs, anywhere. It sounds just terrific. I hope to make it soon. ;o)
QueenSashy November 8, 2012
Thank you! Actually, the same thing happened to me when I decided to make this dish -- I had to scout entire Manhattan and a portion of Westchester to find turkey legs. As of two days ago, they are everywhere.
fearlessem October 31, 2012
Made this tonight and it is exceptional -- SO GOOD. Sent in my review to Amanda and Merrill -- this should be a winner!!
QueenSashy October 31, 2012
fearlessem, thank you so much for letting me know!