As summer draws to a close and signs of fall start to emerge, our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving and the delectable festive treats that will soon fill our table. A time to celebrate with family and friends, Thanksgiving is not without its stresses and can descend into chaos and carnage quickly with a seemingly never-ending list of preparations.
Fear not! The key to stress-free holiday cooking is to plan ahead and prepare meals that are big on flavor, small on fuss. This delicious recipe for slow-cooked, pulled turkey is accompanied by a sweet, sticky cranberry and orange relish, offering a contemporary twist on the traditional Thanksgiving roast.
Nutritionally speaking, this is also a meal you can comfortably afford to indulge in. After all — that’s what the holidays are all about! Anti-inflammatory and free from dairy, gluten and refined sugars, this recipe delivers all the classic festive flavors of the holidays without the hassle.
While preparing and cooking an entire turkey can be a daunting task, this recipe utilizes the leg joint, which is not only cost-effective when feeding multiple guests but is also a great vehicle for a delicious relish and festive flavors. Although I have opted to use a slow cooker, you could adapt the recipe easily to cook on the stove in a large casserole dish or Dutch oven. You could also experiment with different cuts of turkey and use the thigh or breast joints, adjusting the cooking time where necessary.
Renowned for being a dry meat, I have opted to use a little stock to keep the turkey moist and succulent throughout the cooking process. You can use any premade stock or homemade broth that is free from additives or substitute for water. In addition to this, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup combine to add extra moisture and a little sweetness to this savory dish with extra virgin olive oil providing a dose of healthy fats.
The relish itself packs an intense flavor punch and makes great use of dried cranberries, which are much more readily available than fresh cranberries. Complemented by classic festive flavors, the dried cranberries soak up the cooking juices. This sweet, spicy and tangy relish provides an ideal accompaniment to the slow-cooked meat offering an alternative take on the traditional turkey and cranberry sauce. You can save time on the day by making this ahead and refrigerating until ready to serve.
Once all the ingredients are in the pot, you can step back, put your feet up and let the slow cooker do all the work.
After cooking, the turkey will fall off the bone easily. Transfer to a plate and use two forks to shred into bite-sized chunks. Layer with a generous helping of relish and serve with crispy oven-roasted potatoes or braised red cabbage. This also makes delicious leftovers the following day in salad leaf wraps.
In terms of nutrition, turkey meat is naturally high in the amino acid tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin in the body. This has a natural calming effect, which is a terrific reason to get more turkey meat into your diet and a good excuse for a post-meal nap.
The turkey itself is slow cooked over a bed of onions and garlic, which are two of nature’s greatest anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, not to mention powerhouses of flavor. With no slow-roasted meat being complete without the addition of some fresh herbs, I have added generous helpings of rosemary and thyme. Rosemary is a powerful antioxidant with impressive anti-inflammatory properties while thyme also exhibits strong anti-inflammatory qualities as well as being a natural antihistamine.
Not forgetting the incredible host of health benefits the relish has to offer, this perfect festive accompaniment to the sweet, salty meat is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. An excellent source of vitamin C, cranberries deliver an array of health-giving properties and boast exceptional anti-inflammatory qualities. The tartness of the berries is complemented by the spicy heat of ginger and the sweetness of orange to deliver not only a taste sensation but an anti-inflammatory nutrient hit as well.
This recipe provides two very generous servings or four smaller meals. It makes a great sharing platter so that you can double the quantity for extra guests.
For the turkey
- 1 large turkey leg joint
- 1 large red onion, cut into thick wedges
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/3 cup broth or water
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
- 3 large rosemary sprigs
- 3 thyme sprigs
- Pinch of ground black pepper
- Pinch of sea salt
For the cranberry and orange relish
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup water
- Juice and zest of 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 1-inch pieces ginger, grated
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of sea salt
- Add onion wedges and garlic cloves to the bottom of slow cooker and pour stock over the top.
- Season turkey leg generously with salt and black pepper and rest on top of the onion and garlic.
- Pour balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and olive oil over the turkey.
- Add fresh herbs to slow cooker.
- Set heat to high and cook for 5 hours until the meat is cooked through thoroughly until falling off the bone.
- While turkey is cooking, make your relish. Add maple syrup, orange juice, zest, balsamic vinegar and ginger to a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring liquid to a boil gently, then add dried cranberries, ginger, cinnamon and salt.
- Reduce heat and simmer gently, continuously stirring until all the liquid has been absorbed.
- Add water and bring liquid back up to a simmer for around 20 minutes, until liquid has reduced completely, leaving a sticky relish.
- Once turkey has cooked, remove meat from slow cooker and shred onto a plate using two forks. Serve with a little of the cooking liquid and cranberry and orange relish.
Total time: 5 hours, 10 minutes Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 5 hours
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Fat: 3.7g Sugar: 11g Salt: 0.05g
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