This bird is not just for the holidays, y’all. 

It is the annual conundrum. At Thanksgiving we gorge on turkey and wonder aloud why we relegate it to sandwiches all year long, but by New Year's we think we will never want turkey again. So, we abandon it until next festive season. But turkey is a terrific protein to serve all year long, especially in winter. And there is so much more you can do with it that has nothing to do with a holiday meal.

The best way to cook turkey all winter long

For me, the dish that flipped the script on turkey is braised turkey thighs. When it isn't the holidays with whole birds at a premium, you can usually find these in your poultry case or ask your butcher for them. And then you can swap them in for literally any braised chicken thigh dish; just go by weight or assume that one large turkey thigh is equal to three large chicken thighs.

You can make curries and tagines, cacciatores, and even dinde (instead of coq) au vin. Any slow-braised dish where a chicken thigh can go a turkey thigh can go as well and bring a slightly deeper meatiness and subtle taste difference to a dish you already love!

Turkey Thighs
Credit: Getty / Elena_Danileiko

My favorite recipe: Braised Turkey Thighs

The recipe I turn to again and again is this one. It is simple, delicious, and couldn't be easier. This makes enough to serve a crowd or to have terrific leftovers.

Braised Turkey Thighs

Serves 6-8

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 ½  tablespoons + 1 ½  teaspoons kosher salt, divided 

1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided, plus more to taste 

4 bone-in, skin-on turkey thighs

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon canola oil

12 medium shallots, peeled and halved

12 baby portobello or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and halved

3 cups dry white wine

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish 

1 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves for garnish

1. Heat your oven to 300°. 

2. In a shallow baking dish, mix the flour, 1 ½ tablespoons of the salt, and 1/2 tablespoon of the pepper. Dredge each of the thighs in the flour mixture, then shake to remove excess and set aside on a rack set over a baking sheet for 10 minutes.

3. In a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, melt the butter until it stops foaming and add the oil. Gently add the thighs, skin-side down, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side, until the thighs are very deep golden brown. Transfer to a platter and set aside. 

4. Add the shallots to the fat in the pot and toss to coat. Cook, flipping a couple of times, until the shallots are caramelized and softened, which should take around 10 to 12 minutes. If they are browning too fast reduce the heat. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for about 3 minutes, until they too are a bit browned.

5. While the onions are browning, in a small bowl, combine the wine, the mustards, the remaining salt and pepper, stirring to dissolve the salt. Pour the mixture into the pot. Add the thighs, skin side up, nestling them among the shallots and mushrooms, so that the liquid in the pot comes about halfway up the sides of the turkey. Tuck the thyme sprigs in with the thighs and let the liquid come to a boil. Remove from the heat; cover the pot, transfer it to the oven, and cook for about 40 minutes. Remove the lid, discard the thyme sprigs, and scatter the tomatoes on top. 

6. Continue to cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. 

7. In a small bowl, mix together the chopped parsley and thyme leaves.

8. Transfer the thighs to a bowl. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper as needed. If the sauce is not thick enough, put the pot over medium-high heat to reduce the sauce until it is the right consistency. You should be able to gently slide the bones out of the thighs and cut each thigh into three pieces, then transfer to a serving bowl. Pour the sauce, along with the shallots, mushrooms, and tomatoes, over the turkey. Garnish with the parsley and thyme and serve.