I've tried twice to follow the instructions for braised turkey legs in "The Food Lab" by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. It is very similar to this recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/11/red-wine-braised-turkey-legs.html

The main differences are that the book calls for a covered pot (I assumed he meant left ajar) and for browning both sides, not just one side of the legs.

So here's what I did, and the legs came out pretty tough and a little dry.

The first time I used all the broth which mostly submerged the legs and I didn't keep an eye on the thermometer which got to 180º internal before I pulled them. I know that is too hot.

The second time I seared the skin side of the legs, removed them, added chunked carrot, onion & celery and 6 c. of stock, and put the legs in and brought to just a simmer, then put in a 275º oven. Within 30 min they were already 150º! They're supposed to cook for 2-3 hours and that seemed like it would get too hot for too long. The stock was nearly 180º. So I pulled out the legs and the pan and cooled it while I figured out what to do. I removed most of the stock so the legs were sitting on the vegetables and not submerged, and put it back in with the lid ajar. It took an hour to get back up to 150º, then 30 min to get to 160º and then only 12 min to get to 169º which is when I pulled them out to let them rest under a tinfoil tent for 30 min. I left the thermometer probe in and saw that it did not get any higher, no carryover cooking. According to the book dark meat's collagen will melt between 160º and 170º leaving you with fork tender meat.

Any ideas about what I'm going wrong? I even tested my thermometer and room temp seems right and boiling water is 208º which is appropriate for my elevation of 2300'.



  • 1
    Why would you assume "left ajar"? Recipes are usually specific about that sort of thing, particularly from someone as fastidious as KLA...
    – Catija
    Nov 20, 2017 at 17:17
  • 2
    because he has a small chapter in the book about keeping the lid on vs. keeping it off and how you want it off to promote evaporative cooling and keep the temp in the pot around 175º instead of 212º
    – monty0
    Nov 20, 2017 at 17:20

1 Answer 1


So apparently the problem is that I didn't let the legs cook long enough to break down the collagen. Just getting to the target temperature isn't enough, it has to stay there for a significant amount of time. The liquid of the braise regulates the temperature in the pot so it won't get too hot, but it's ok for the legs to get up to 180º in a braise.

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