Thursday, November 26, 2015

Turkey Thighs with Madeira and pearl onions.

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

Turkey Day, better known as Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching and with it, just another heavy dinner- to be slept off over the weekend.  I have a suggestion on how to bring your guests to the table and make sure that they talk about how delicious their dinner was- without the somnambulism. 

The Founding Fathers were quite fond of turkey.  It almost became the national bird, before the eagle took its place.  But with that said, we give thanks at this time of year and celebrate our appreciation for history with a turkey dinner.  There are many schools of thought as to what goes with turkey.  I’m sometimes interested in Riesling, other times Gruner Veltliner.  And still other times, I find myself interested in a juicy, fruit forward Syrah.

But this year is going to be different. I did some research into the history of this most American of our holidays and found that of all the spirits that were enjoyed at Thanksgiving, only Madeira has been forgotten by history. 

It’s just amazing to me how well Madeira goes with turkey.  It’s really the perfect balance and combination of flavors.  From savory nutmeats to toasty, charred oak, pencil lead, blue fruits and sweet caramel popcorn.  Sure it’s produced from grapes and yes it is fortified and aged in the blazing sun, then taken for sea voyages in the crashing waves, lashed to the decks, splashed with salt spray and blistering heat for months on end…

That is what makes Madeira so sensual.  It’s not easy to make, but oh so luscious to drink.   And with turkey? Well Madeira is the perfect match for turkey dinners of all sorts.

My turkey dinner features an under 20-dollar bottle of Madeira that you can cook with AND drink at the same time.  Broadbent Rainwater Medium Dry Madeira NV is my choice to bring history to life. 

The Food Timeline, which is my go-to for all things history and food discusses Madeira as the most “Expensive and popular wine” during the 18th Century.  It’s evaporated from our scope because it is not an easy drinker… It takes great fortitude to enjoy Madeira because it is dry and sweet, at the same time.  Fortified with Brandy, Madeira is also potent.  Just a few glasses with a meal can hasten both digestion (from the herbs and the fermented grapes) and intoxication from the Brandy element, bringing forth sleep. 

Madeira as fine as the Broadbent, available at DrinkupNY is easy to enjoy, because you didn’t overpay for the pleasure of history in your glass.  Or in this case, with your turkey dinner!

Turkey Thighs with Madeira and pearl onions.
Ingredients and practice…
Pre-heat oven to 450

5 or 6 pounds of turkey thighs that you’ve soaked in buttermilk for two days, changing the buttermilk each day. (essential) then discard buttermilk down the drain and dry the thighs as best as possible
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4-5 Bay Leaf 
2 lbs. Pearl Onions (peeled and soaked in acidulated water) (1 cap of vinegar to 1 gallon of water.. let soak for a few hours then dry…
2-3 whole bulbs garlic, 1 end sliced off, paper on…
½ bottle Rainwater Madeira
½ cup Balsamic Vinegar

To a large Dutch Oven (Le Creuset comes to mind) add ½ cup unsalted butter
Add the Turkey Thighs
Add the Pearl Onions
Add the Garlic
Add the Salt and Pepper
Add the Bay Leaf
Add the Rainwater Madeira

Place in your preheated oven, uncovered for ½ hour at the very minimum…
Drop the temperature down to 300, cover and roast for 4-5 hours or until the turkey falls apart easily with a fork.

Add the Balsamic to the pot during the last two hours of cooking… 

Serve with small glasses of the Madeira and sip gently to a Happy Thanksgiving!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Warren Bobrow is the creator of the popular blog The Cocktail Whisperer and the author of nearly half a dozen books, including Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktail and Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails- his most recent book.

He's also written about cocktails for Saveur and Whole Foods/Dark Rye, Total Food Service, Eater, Serious Eats, Foodista, Distiller and Beverage Media among other outlets.  He’s taught the fine art of social media and food writing at the New School in New York and at the Institute for Culinary Education. Warren has also taught at Stonewall Kitchen in Maine.

Bobrow was a 2010 Ministry of Rum judge and was the only American food journalist asked to participate in FĂȘte de la Gastronomie, a nationwide celebration of French cuisine in Burgundy.
Photo Credit: WishFulChef

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