With its bold flavors and healthy ingredients, Latin Braised Turkey Thighs in Pepita Red Chile Sauce is perfect for weeknight dinners (when you've got some time!), but will surprise and delight dinner guests as well! Bonus: Leftovers freeze beautifully!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - Recipe Inspiration
This Latin-inspired main dish is a follow-up recipe to my Red Chile and Toasted Pumpkin Seed Salsa. The salsa is the base for the braising liquid. With the addition of sherry and chicken broth, the turkey thighs become succulent, tender, and super flavorful.
These Latin Braised Turkey Thighs are gluten free, dairy free, nut free, high in protein, and low in carbs... It checks all the boxes right?
🍖 About Braising (and Why It's an Important Method!)
Nothing equals a slow oven braise IMHO. Pressure cookers get close, but not quite on par. I love to slow cook in a cast iron Dutch oven!
Braising is a combination cooking method that combines searing/browning with moist slow heat. Of course the Maillard reaction of the browning adds tons of flavor to the pot, and the slow braise in liquid breaks down the tissue until it simply melts in your mouth. Is your mouth watering yet?
The best cuts for braising tend to be some of the most inexpensive as well. Look for well-exercised cuts such as shoulder, leg (thighs), and rump, as well as cuts with a lot of connective tissue like shanks, chuck and brisket. You may save yourself some "moolah" in the process! 🙂
You can "braise" on the cooktop, but ideally the even heat that surrounds the pot is best. And what's better than "set it and forget it," right?
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- refined coconut oil or vegetable oil - Searing the turkey prior to braising is a critical step. You need to use an oil with a high smoke point.
- turkey thighs - I have also made this dish with turkey legs. Chicken thighs would be another great option.
- dry sherry - If you don't want to buy an entire bottle of sherry, you can substitute a dry wine. I have also used a lager (Corona).
- chicken broth
- pumpkin seed salsa (see notes)
- onion - I like red or sweet
First, you'll need about 2-3 cups Red Chile and Toasted Pumpkin Seed Salsa. When I make the pumpkin seed salsa, I make enough to freeze for Latin Braised Turkey Thighs in Pepita Red Chile Sauce. That does involve planning ahead!
- Preparation - Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 convection). Slice the onions.
- Sear the turkey thighs - To an oven-proof Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the oil. When it's hot, add the turkey thighs and onions. If pan is crowded work in batches. Brown on both sides. Remove and set aside.
- Braise the turkey thighs - De-glaze the pan with dry sherry, loosening browned bits. Add the chicken broth and pumpkin seed salsa. Whisk together to combine. You want a fairly thick but not pasty consistency. Add the turkey thighs back into the pan, pressing into the sauce. Bring to a gentle boil. Spoon a little sauce over the tops of the turkey thighs. Cover with a well-fitting lid. Braise an hour.
- Serve - Prior to serving, you may wish to remove the turkey thighs, and whisk to combine the juices with the sauce. Garnish with toasted pepitas and chopped cilantro as desired.
Do not crowd the pan when searing the turkey! I have a very large cast iron Dutch oven, so I can do it all in one batch. You can work in batches.
What can I substitute for turkey thighs? I think dark meat works best in this dish. Try turkey drumsticks or chicken thighs. I find the thighs easier to deal with, but have just as often used drumsticks!
Can I freeze leftovers? YES! I am cooking for 2 most of the time, and we get 2 generous meals out of this recipe. Freeze in an airtight container or zip bag for several months.
🍷 Pairing Suggestions
We serve Latin Braised turkey Thighs in Pumpkin Seed Red Chile Sauce with a few different sides. On photo day, I made a simple Mexican red chipotle rice. It's awesome with Mexican Cilantro Rice as well. My Mexican cauliflower rice is a low carb option.
If you're looking for a healthy salad to serve alongside, my Quick Nopalitos (Cactus) Salad with Citrus-Pomegranate Vinaigrette is ready in 15 minutes. Prepare both sides while the turkey thighs braise.
Enjoy this Latin-inspired meal with a dry Spanish rosé or a saison with a hint of citrus... 2 of our favorites!
- 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
- 3-4 turkey thighs, skin removed (see notes)
- ⅓ cup dry sherry
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2-3 cups pumpkin seed salsa (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- fresh ground pepper
- 1 onion (I like red or sweet), sliced thin
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 convection).
- To an oven-proof Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the oil. When it's hot, add the turkey thighs and onions. If pan is crowded work in batches. Brown on both sides. Remove and set aside.
- De-glaze the pan with dry sherry, loosening browned bits. Add the chicken broth and pumpkin seed salsa. Whisk together to combine.
- Add the turkey thighs back into the pan, pressing into the sauce. Bring to a gentle boil. Spoon a little sauce over the tops of the turkey thighs.
- Cover with a well-fitting lid. Bake an hour.
- Prior to serving, you may wish to remove the turkey thighs, and whisk to combine the juices with the sauce.
- Garnish with toasted pepitas and chopped cilantro as desired.
I do remove the skin usually before browning to reduce the fat.
This recipe is a companion recipe to my Red Chile and Toasted Pumpkin Seed Salsa. I did include the time in the "Additional Time" on this recipe card. If you make the salsa at another time, you can subtract that hour!
Turkey thighs are large and meaty. One thigh equals more than one serving.
Most of the time, I'm cooking for two. This dish is excellent leftover. I freeze leftovers for another meal!
Macronutrients are an approximation only from MyFitnessPal.com. The macros vary according to amount of sauce served per person, and portion sizes. I added 50 calories per serving for sauce (about 3 tablespoons).
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 369Total Fat: 19gCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 35g