Roast Turkey Thighs with Garlic and Sage

Turkey and I, we are not friends.

Roast Turkey with Garlic and Sage | EmmaEats


I want to be friends with turkey. It’s one of G’s favourites, so you can just imagine my dilemma. Unfortunately I have had some magnificent turkey disasters in the kitchen, not the least being for Thanksgiving dinner.

Luckily for him, this recipe has changed that all.

Back when Emma was two, we splurged on an Italian holiday. Loving all things Italy, I felt pretty well prepared for this adventure. Growing up, some friends had old-world Italian families and to my good fortune, they introduced me to some remarkable foods and so much of their vibrant culture.

When we arrived, my eyes were opened to the irresistible freshness of Italy.  Our villa had trellises covered with lemons growing on vines, and the olive trees and laurel trees scattered everywhere were unfathomably huge. There were sage shrubs! While I fancy myself a capable gardener now — I’ve had my share of gardening disasters as well — nothing, including sage, has ever grown like that in our garden without the help of significant fertilizers and other magic.

Chopping some sage from the harvests we now manage in our (slightly more abundant) garden and adding it to lots of minced garlic and olive oil has brought some of that otherworldly magic back from Italy into our kitchen. As we dig in to our dinner, the perfectly golden, crisp skin gives way to succulent beautifully-seasoned meat. For a few brief moments, I get to be transported to Italy too.

Turkey disasters have been replaced by cheers from Katie and G cringes no more when turkey is on the menu.

Is this (turkey) love that I’m feeling?

Roast Turkey with Garlic and Sage

  • Servings: 4 generous portions
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

adapted from Judith Liebman’s Tuscan Turkey Thighs | NYTimes

  • 4 bone-in skin-on turkey thighs
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • a handful of fresh sage, chopped finely or 2-3 tablespoons rubbed sage
  • a few glugs of olive oil
  • a few pinches each of ground sage, ground black pepper and kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Mix together the garlic, fresh or rubbed sage and the olive oil to make a paste. Lift the skin on a turkey thigh ever so slightly taking care to not rip it or detach it entirely from the thigh. Rub one quarter of the sage paste under the skin of the turkey thigh and over the top of the skin. Place the seasoned thigh into a cast iron pan or shallow roasting pan skin-side down. Repeat the paste process on the remaining turkey thighs and place them all in a single layer in the pan.

Sprinkle a pinch or two of ground sage and black pepper and a good pinch of salt over the turkey thighs.  Place the pan into the oven and roast the turkey thighs for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and carefully flip the turkey thighs over so the skin is facing up. Sprinkle another pinch of ground sage and salt over the tops of the thighs along with a little more olive oil and reduce the heat to 350F. Place everything back into the oven for 30-40 minutes until the skin is crisp and golden and the meat is cooked completely through.

Let the thighs rest, tented with foil for 5-10 minutes. Serve with your favourite Tuscan side. One of ours is cauliflower cooked in tomato sauce.

Tips and Suggestions:

  • The turkey can be seasoned a couple of days in advance and refrigerated until the day you would like to roast it. Just pull it from the refrigerator 30 minutes or so before it goes into the oven.
  • Should you end up with leftovers, the sliced turkey is wonderful in sandwiches.


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