Wholesome Cook

Turkey leg confit with cranberry vodka sauce + baked apple | Thanksgiving

This is a guest post I have been invited to share on Yasmeen’s wonderful blog, Wandering Spice, as part of her Thanksgiving themed recipe collection. It will be up later tonight on her site.

Yasmeen’s food philosophy is similar to mine in that the best meals are inspired by life. She is endlessly interested in food and culture, and loves sleuthing out the histories behind the foods of the world. She shares most beloved Middle Eastern family heirloom dishes, along with other sweets and savories she hasinvented/discovered during her travels. Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my own food musings with your readers.


One of my earliest autumn comfort food memories are my Mum’s oven-baked apples.

During the colder months of autumn and winter Mum would often serve duck, goose or her succulent herb roasted chicken with a side of roasted potatoes and those baked apples that Dad and I adored so much. It was a one pot meal that comforted the soul, a Thanksgiving-type food. The  sweetness of the apples intensified in high heat and while the flesh just under the skin became more like a sauce, the inside was still slightly firm to the bite producing quite an amazing taste sensation.

But since I am yet to master the whole chook roasting business, and Thanksgiving (for those celebrating in Australia) falls here during the warmer months, I prefer to confit my turkey. Roasting a whole bird of that size is much harder and there’s a lot that can go wrong. Plus frozen birds don’t taste the same and don’t cook the same way as fresh ones. And they are hard to come by too.

So while the following is a non-traditional Thanksgiving turkey recipe, the French-inspired confit version is easy to prepare, moist, flavourful and decadently moreish. Formed into a sausage, the confit combined with the sweet sour flavour of roasted apple and dried cranberries, plus a slight warmth from the generous glug of cherry vodka in the sauce, becomes something out of this world!

To be honest, the whole recipe reminds me of the sort of comfort, warmth and love my Mum’s home cooked meals tasted of. And while the addition of a cherry vodka and cranberry sauce was a little bit of an afterthought to this recipe, it reminds me of Dad and the deliciously sweet and rich cherry and cranberry liqueurs he used to make. Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is also about?

Serves 4

Turkey leg confit with cranberry vodka sauce + baked apple | Thanksgiving

The confit takes care of itself on the stove top so do not be discouraged by the long ingredient list. Serve as a cold starter at your next party or as part of a cheese and charcuterie supper. Goes very well with dark rye sourdough or oven baked duck-fat potato crisps (recipe below).

For the turkey leg confit:

  • 2 (400g each) turkey drumsticks
  • 2.5lt chicken stock
  • 200ml duck fat // or oilve oil
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 all spice berries
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1 tsp white pepper

For the baked apple and cranberry vodka sauce:

  • 4 Golden Delicious apples // or Cox apples
  • 1/8 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup cherry vodka // or cherry liqueur

For the duck-fat potato crisps:

  • 2 large washed potatoes
  • 1 tsp duck fat // or olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes

To prepare the turkey leg confit: place the turkey drumsticks, chicken stock, duck fat, herbs, five spice and crushed garlic cloves in a large casserole or stockpot – make sure the meat is covered with liquid. If not, add a little extra stock. Cover with a sheet of baking paper cut to size. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then lower heat to low and cook for 2-3 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone. Remove the meat from the pot reserving 1/2 a cup of the liquid for later.

While the turkey is still hot, remove skin and bones (discard) and shred the meat finely with a fork. Place in a bowl and add more salt and pepper to taste, plus the reserved liquid. Mix well to combine and place in the fridge to chill.

To form confit ‘sausages’: divide mixture between 4 sheets of plastic foil placing it in the middle of each foil square. Form a rough log, then roll up the foil securing the sausage tightly at both ends. Chill for another few minutes to set.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 200C (180C fan forced, 400F, gas mark 6).

To make the apples: wash apples, pat dry and stand on a baking tray and into the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the apples are starting to soften, break and bubble from the inside out. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

To make the cranberry vodka sauce: place vodka and cranberries into a small saucepan. Cook for about 5 minutes for the cranberries to soften.

To make the duck-fat potato crisps: wash and slice potato into thin slices. Spread a little duck fat on each slice and place on a paper-lined baking tray. Cook in the preheated oven (as above) for 12 minutes or until the crisps are golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.

To serve: serve the turkey coonfit sausage drizzled with the cranberry vodka sauce, a baked apple and some crisps on the side. The apple can be enjoyed both hot and cold.


Anne S November 20, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Confit is one of my favourite things and your interpretatiion of it looks delicious, and as always, very creative.

Timothy R November 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Nothing beats potato chips for me, although the cranberry vodka sauce sounds delicious, as do the apples!

Mike November 20, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Please thank your mom for me – I will definitely be trying these apples. Sound amazing!

Steph November 20, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Just had a look at Yasmeen’s blog, it is wonderful too, how wonderful you were asked to do a guest post Marty!

Lizzy (Good Things) November 20, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Oh Marty, the first thing that caught my eye was the oven baked apple. So delicious, and my favourite! So lovely to share memories of your mum and dad.

Bam's Kitchen November 20, 2011 at 7:12 pm

I love this appetizer dish. Amazing contrast with food textures and tastes but with some of the old flavors we enjoy. I also Love Yasmeen’s food website!

sara (Belly Rumbles) November 20, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I have tried stuffing and baking turkey leg with not much success. Not a turkey leg lover at all. Saying this, my ears picked up confit big time.

Just A Smidgen November 21, 2011 at 2:04 am

I have never tried turkey confit.. you make it sound so simple:) This looks like a great recipe alternative to the big old bird!

saffronandhoney November 21, 2011 at 3:37 am

What a beautiful plate! And I adore the addition of the baked apple as a side – fantastic.

Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide November 21, 2011 at 3:50 am

This is beautiful! I did expect the cone to reappear though.

Three-Cookies November 21, 2011 at 9:59 am

Looks awesome. I didn’t know whole apples were served with the main. I guess those who don’t finish it will probably see it on their dessert plate:)

Sissi November 22, 2011 at 3:44 am

Martyna, I love baked apples and haven’t had them for ages! Your confit looks fabulous and reminds me of the duck leg confit I make quite often (it also reminds me I still haven’t made it this Autumn). I didn’t know Australians celebrate Thanksgiving too. One lives and learns!

Gaby November 22, 2011 at 8:32 am

Great idea, not only if you haven’t mastered the art of roasting a whole turkey but also when you don’t need to feed that many people and don’t want to fill your freezer with leftovers.

Wholesome Cook November 22, 2011 at 8:47 am

I couldn’t have put it better myself!

sportsglutton November 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm

You had me at cranberry vodka sauce. Sounds great.

Nate @ House of Annie November 22, 2011 at 7:33 pm

What a great creation!

How do you like them Autumn Apples! | Brenda Janschek March 24, 2015 at 2:44 pm

[…] Turkey Leg Confit with Cranberry Vodka Sauce and Baked Apple by The Wholesome Cook […]


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