Other than my recipe for braising, then smoking turkey wings, this is my favorite turkey wings recipe.
I first saw a recipe like this one in Calvin Schwabe’s awesome book Unmentionable Cuisine, which has become a cult favorite in adventurous gastronomic circles. His recipe calls for the last digit of the turkey wing, which, well, is hardly worth it to my mind. The first two digits, however, are well worth the effort.
If you’ve ever had a salade Niçoise, you’ll see echoes of that famous dish in this one: olives, capers, tomato, tarragon. It’s a lovely meal, and a great way to work with an unloved part of the turkey.
This recipe will work with both wild turkey and store-bought turkey wings. If you happen to have an old gobbler, it might take an extra hour for the wings to get tender. Be patient if that happens: The wings will get tender, eventually.
Figure on two wing pieces per person, unless you are serving lots of other things, and in that case you could get away with one drumette per person.
If you make a whole mess of turkey wings, you can strip the meat off the bones of the leftovers and mix them with the rest of the recipe, then eat that the next day over rice or with crusty bread. It’s not a bad thing to add to eggs in the morning, either.
Could you make this with turkey legs? Sure, but remember to remove all the tendons out of the drumsticks before serving. Once the meat is tender, simply pull out the tendons from the bottom of the drumstick. The meat should (mostly) stay put. Makes things far easier on the plate.
French Turkey Wings à la Nice
- 2 tablespoons turkey fat or butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Wings from 2 turkeys, separated (8 pieces)
- ¾ pound button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- I teaspoon chopped fresh sage
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
- 1 ½ cup diced tomatoes
- 1 cup white wine
- 18 to 24 black olives, sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
- Heat the fat in a large, heavy lidded pot. Brown the turkey wings in this over medium-high heat. Take your time on this, and get some good browning. Salt them as they cook. Set aside pieces as they brown in a bowl.
- When the turkey has browned, add the button mushrooms and sliced onion and brown them; add some more fat or oil if you want. Salt them as they cook.
- When the onion and mushrooms are nicely browned, return the turkey wings to the pot and add the thyme, rosemary, sage, bay, garlic, tomatoes, and wine. Scrape up any browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pot with wooden spoon. Cover the pot and simmer very gently for 2 hours.
- Check the pot after about 1 hour, and add water if needed; you want the wings to braise, not be in a stew.
- When the wings are nearly done, add the olives and cook for another 5 minutes. Mix in the tarragon and parsley and serve with crusty bread, rice, or potatoes.