It’s been years since we discovered the many benefits of cooking a turkey’s breast and legs separately. Not only does it give you more control over time, temperature, and flavor, it frees up much-needed oven space and allows you to cook extra legs or breasts, depending on the preferences of your guests.

This recipe, cooked inside a No.12 Field Skillet (with a lid; see Field Notes if you don’t have one), yields very tender leg meat with an added bonus: incredibly flavored braising liquid, which tastes like the ultimate turkey stock. You can use this leftover liquid to sauce the braised meat, or use it to make gravy, stuffing, soup or myriad other Thanksgiving staples.

Photo: Lauren V. Allen

Field Notes:


If you don’t have a matching lid for your No.12 Field Skillet, you can also braise the turkey, uncovered in a 300°F oven, though you might need to add some extra stock if too much liquid cooks off.


Braising under cover will cause the turkey skin to lose its crispiness, which is just fine with us—we typically discard the skin and pull the meat from the bones before serving. But if you want to serve the turkey legs whole, run the skillet below a broiler for a few minutes to re-crisp the skin.

Recipe: Braised Turkey Legs

Yield: 8 servings



Pat the turkey legs dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, and up to 1 hour, which will allow the turkey to come up to room temperature and the salt to penetrate the meat.


Heat a No.12 Field Skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. Add 2 tablespoons oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the turkey legs, skin side down, and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 15 minutes total. Transfer the turkey to a plate.


Add the onion, celery, and garlic, cut side down, to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown in spots, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the turkey legs (and any accumulated juices), skin side up, to the skillet. Pour the stock around the turkey, increase the heat to high, and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and cook until the turkey is very tender and almost falling off the bone, 2½ to 3 hours. Periodically lift the lid to make sure the liquid is gently simmering; adjust the heat as needed.


If desired, place the skillet below a boiler for a couple of minutes to re-crisp the skin before carving. Alternatively, discard the skin and pull the meat from the bones.


Strain the liquid left in the skillet into a large measuring cup; discard the solids. What’s left is a very flavorful broth that can be used to make gravy, or can be poured over the shredded leg meat to keep it moist.

Seasoning Rating: Safe

Braising meat in cast iron rarely adds seasoning to your skillet, but slowly simmering turkey legs in a mostly stock-based braising liquid won’t do it a bit of harm, either.

Seasoning Ratings:

Best—These dishes are the best options for building resilient seasoning, and surefire choices for getting tricky pans back on track.

Better—The best way to keep your skillet in great shape is to cook frequently, and cast iron-friendly dishes like these are your bread and butter.

Safe—These recipes won't strip seasoning away from your pan, but won't really add any, either.

OK—Be sure to clean up promptly. Recipes with this rating might feature acidic ingredients which can affect seasoning if not washed soon after cooking.