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Aug 7, 2013 09:48 AM

Baked turkey thighs - tough as a boot. What happened??

I bake a turkey every year & have never had a problem with a tough bird. I buy Butterball & baste well while baking. I was so hungry for turkey so I bought 2 large thighs, not Butterball, just a package stating "turkey thighs". I rubbed with olive oil & butter & baked slowly, very juicy looking during the cooking process. What a surprise! Those two thighs were like rubber, not to mention stringy meat.

Could I have prevented the toughness in any way? I have never baked just a portion of a turkey so don't know if the method should be different than baking a whole turkey.

My idea was to bake the two thighs, eat one, slice the other for sandwiches since I am tired of turkey slices from the deli section. Also, was hoping for a little leftover to make a soup.

Both pieces landed in the garbage, my two old dogs could not even chew it.

Please help.

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  1. i'd say you baked for too long, but i guess you already thought of that. you don't say how long you baked them.

    1. I cook thighs or legs in a 325 degree oven until they are fork tender.
      I brown them in a cast iron pot, deglaze with chicken broth and throw some onions in the pot, a couple bay leafs (or any aromatics you like). What really puts this over the top is a handful of dried porcini mushrooms. It makes a spectacular restaurant quality sauce after its strained.
      The turkey legs are very tender. them in Reynolds cooking bag with the same ingredients gives a tender result too.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Annief123

        Do you cover the thighs? That's what I'd suggest to OP. Your dish sounds delish :)

        1. re: c oliver

          Yes, I absolutely cover it with the foil and the cover to the pan.
          It's almost impossible to over cook it.

          You may want to thicken the sauce.....the way you would do Ny gravy.

          It's really a great way to do chicken thighs. I then shred the meat and put it over rice or garlic mashed potatoes. I've even put the chicken on Nann bread with fontina cheese for a delicious pizza.

          Great mixed with pasta and cherry tomatoes.

        2. re: Annief123

          Do you brown & deglaze on the stove & then put your cast iron pot in the oven to bake to finish baking at 325 deg?

            1. re: Annief123

              This is probably the best thing I've learned so far since joining Chowhound. I had 2 very large turkey thighs and did exactly what Annief123 recommended, sans mushrooms but only because I didn't have them. The meat was falling - off - the -bone tender, but the skin was crispy.

              A master technique. Many thanks!!!

              1. re: nlgardener

                I'm so glad to hear that!

                When you have a chance, I would recommend giving the dried porcini's a try. It really gives the sauce a delicious and complex flavor.

                For anyone in the Ma. or Rhode Island area, Ocean State Job Lot carries them for under $3. For that price they are a regular staple in my pantry.

          1. re: Annief123

            I'm glad this thread popped again, I have a turkey thigh in the freezer needing to be used and had no idea what to do with it. I was going to try a high temperature roast Zuni-style but maybe I'll give this method a try instead.

          2. I did not cover the thighs & I baked at 325 deg for about an hour an a half. Thanks for pointing this out. I kept testing them for doneness, but each time they felt like rubber. Would it have helped to use an injector of melted butter/olive oil?

            With that said, I am eager to try again. Perhaps you all could toss in some of your methods of cooking individual pieces.

            A cooking bag sounds like that would help a lot.

            I am open to cooking any portion of the bird as long as I end up with something tender.

            6 Replies
            1. re: cstout

              I've done legs not thighs in the slowcooker.

              1. re: cstout

                Too hot for too long. Use a thermometer. If you don't have one, brine the legs first, which will give you a cushion against too high a finished temperature.

                1. re: greygarious

                  I'd have deboned and de-skinned the overcooked thighs, ground the meat, and made croquettes or a potted meat spread. And chopped up the cooked skin for the dogs.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    That's a good idea......with a good cranberry relish, I can see that being very tasty.

                    1. re: greygarious

                      Yes, I should have come to my senses & thought about plan "B".

                      Thanks for pointing that out to me. Wasted food is a bad thing.

                  2. re: cstout

                    I don't think it's too hot for thighs (not talking about drumsticks) but I do think it's too long. I generally roast bone-in, skin-on thighs uncovered anywhere from 350 to 450 deg, depending on what else I'm cooking. It generally takes about 40-60 minutes, depending on temperature and size. Start checking after 40 or 45. Always been nice and juicy.

                    Drumsticks, I like a nice slow braise.

                  3. Well, contrarian that I am.. I roast turkey drums, wings, thighs both for pre stock making and for a meal. 425F for about 1 hour or so till the skin is crisp and golden. It's the Michael Ruhlman way. Seasoned with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper ... and a dusting of garlic powder, uncovered. Perfect every time. Tender and juicy with great flavor.

                    1. I think the problem might be that you are baking the turkey instead of roasting the turkey. ; )