Roasted Turkey Drumsticks

Roasted Turkey Drumsticks, with onion gravy, roast potatoes and bacon-wrapped parsnips

The title really doesn’t do this Roasted Turkey Drumsticks recipe justice. It’s by far the simplest dish I make, and always the most successful. I’ve cooked this for almost everyone I’ve known. Including people from the Basque country in Northern Spain who grew up with the most amazing food. Their mother, when I visited Vitoria-Gasteiz, proffered (almost every day) the most delicious lunches. So, when they decided to visit mine I really wasn’t sure what to cook. Then, I decided to cook this for them for the first time. Bit of a cheek really as this is loosely based on a recipe from Catalonia, where they would cook this with a local white wine – what a waste! Anyway, I’d cooked enough – I’d thought – for their sups and my (large) lunch the following day. You’re kidding me! They helped themselves to thirds! The only things they left were the dirty plates. Huh, if it’s good enough for them…

Can’t quite believe I’m cooking this for Christmas day for the first time in four years. Although it’s incredibly easy to prep and cook it does take forever. Up to 4 hours roasting time! And don’t be fooled after 3 hours that all of the meat is melt-in-the-mouth. It won’t be. By that time I do take the larger chunks of meat off the bone, but not all of the meat. Then, once the meat is submerged I continue roasting for up to another hour.

It’s difficult to give exact ingredients below, especially as I normally cook this with drumsticks. Here, I was only able to buy – & surprised I was able to buy it the evening before Christmas Eve – an entire leg. If you’re using drumsticks then the equivalent of 1 Spanish onion per drumstick is absolutely fine. As for garlic, about 2 – 3 medium sized garlic cloves (according to size) per drumstick is about right. For my roasting dish, just under 28cm or 11 inches square, I ended up adding 500ml (1.05 pt US Liq) of water to cover the onions sufficiently. If using a larger roasting tin; as long as you fill it with water ½ way up that should be OK for a wonderful gravy. Besides, you can always add a little water if the gravy is too thick.

This is the perfect dish to celebrate around New Year, especially if you need to cut back after the extravagance of Christmas. Or, if you just want to spend more in the sales. The perfect side dish is my recipe for pan-fried Brussels sprouts. And lots of cranberry sauce, please.

Roasted Turkey Drumsticks, with onion gravy, roast potatoes and bacon-wrapped parsnips


  • 2 – 3 drumsticks OR 1 x whole turkey leg (weight is around 1500g  or 52.9 oz)
  • about 2 x medium onions per drumstick OR up to 700g (24.69 oz) onions, peeled and roughly chopped – see third paragraph above
  • about 4 – 6 medium garlic cloves, root end cut off and peeled (keep whole)
  • 1 x teaspoon red pepper flakes per drumstick
  • about 500ml (1.05 pt US Liq) x cold water – or enough to cover the onions, about ½ way up a large roasting tin
  • oil, either olive or rapeseed

Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.


  • Preheat oven to electric 200ºC, 400ºF.
  • Using a sharp chef’s knife: hold the bone end of the drumstick with a clean tea towel and insert the point of the knife one side of the bone with the blade facing away from you. I do this by holding the drumstick almost vertically, with its weight resting on a board. Then, carefully slice right through the meat fairly close to the bone. Importantly, the blade is always facing away from me. Repeat this procedure for the other side of the bone
  • Wash drumsticks thoroughly and allow to soak whilst preparing the other vegetables.
  • As you prep the onions scatter them into and around the base of a suitable roaster or roasting tin. The one I’ve used in the photo below is just under 28cm or 11 inches square (measured from the outer edges) with a depth of about 5.5cm or 2.3 inches.
  • Prep the garlic cloves and scatter those, along with the red pepper flakes/cayenne pepper throughout the roaster.
  • Drain the turkey drumsticks and place on top of the onion mixture. Pour in enough water to come ½ way up the sides of the roaster, making sure that all of the onions and garlic are submerged.
  • Place on the second shelf up in a preheated oven and allow to roast for 20 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and, using a tea towel and serving fork (or a couple of lifting forks) lift each of the drumsticks and turn them over. Make sure all of the onions and garlic are scraped off and submerged. Repeat this process every 20 minutes, and pour a little oil over the meat if you want to. If using gas then reduce the heat to No 6 if there’s any sign of scorching.
  • Repeat this process for 2½ – 3 hours, depending on the size of your oven. When the meat looks like it’s starting to come off the bone then let it cool slightly. Remove the larger chunks of meat and keep them submerged. If you’re not going to liquidise the gravy, and believe me this is equally as delicious served rustic, then do take all the meat off the bone, discarding the bones and skin. Do check for any globby bits, as I call them. They’re pinkish bits that come from the bone, I suppose. I remove them, and any scorched onion. The garlic cloves can be removed and allowed to cool before removing their shells.
  • If you’re going to liquidise the gravy then I wouldn’t remove all of the meat – only the larger chunks – as all of the meat will have to be removed before liquidising. Continue to roast for another 30 – 60 minutes until the meat starts to shred easily.
  • Remove all of the drumsticks and set aside. Remove all garlic cloves and set aside. Pick through the onions and remove any that are scorched. Any pink globby bits should be removed and discarded. Once the mixture is cool enough pour (in batches if necessary) into a suitable liquidiser, along with the shelled garlic, and blitz.
  • Remove all meat from the bones, discarding the skin and sinews. This can take time to do. At this stage the meat can be kept warm in the same roaster with just a little water in its base to prevent the meat from drying out.
  • As for the gravy: well, I prefer to pour, in batches, the liquidised gravy into a fine wire metal sieve and rub through with a wooden spoon. This takes an age. However, you’ll be left with a much finer gravy as you’ll get rid of the fibrousness of the onions.
  • Apart from the above the only other suggestion would be to allow the meat to rest for a good 10 minutes before serving. This would give you time to reheat the gravy if necessary. I would cover the meat with tinfoil to retain the heat.


Roast Potatoes & bacon-wrapped Parsnips


For the roast potatoes:

  • If cooking these separately: preheat oven to electric 200ºC, 400 ºF or gas No 6
  • about 200 – 250g (7.05 – 8.81 oz) x white potatoes per person, peeled and roughly cut into the size of a golf ball
  • oil and/or butter
  • salt – optional

Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.


  • As you prep the potatoes place them in a large saucepan ½ filled with water. When all are prepared put on electric heat No 4 (out of 6) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for 4 – 5 minutes, depending on their size. Strain through a metal colander and return to the same saucepan. Add either a good drizzle of oil or a large knob of butter. Shake the pan slightly, off heat, to get all of the potatoes evenly coated.
  • Place in a suitable roaster and put on the second shelf down to roast for up to 50 – 60 minutes. You could add a pinch of salt to the potatoes at this stage. Every 15 – 20 minutes remove from the oven, and using a couple of forks turn each potato over to allow them to brown evenly.

For the bacon-wrapped parsnips:


  • 2 x medium/small parsnips per person, peeled and trimmed
  • 1 x 250g (8.8 oz) pack of either rindless streaky or rindless back bacon OR enough slices to cover all of the split parsnips
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • seasoning, freshly ground black pepper only

Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.


  • Place the prepped parsnips into a large saucepan with enough cold water to cover, and add some salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 2 – 4 minutes, depending on how large the parsnips are. Drain through a metal colander, then plunge into cold water and drain again.
  • Wrap each parsnip with a slice of bacon, starting from their thickest part and on their curved side down by placing the bacon at an angle of about 2 o’clock away from you. Place the parsnip pretty much horizontally on top of the bacon. Then, carefully wrap the bacon around the parsnip, keeping it as tight as possible.
  • Carefully lift each bacon-wrapped parsnip on to a suitable roaster. Add a little oil or butter, not much is needed as the fat from the bacon will release during roasting and keep them from sticking.
  • If cooking separately: preheat oven to electric 200ºC, 400 ºF or gas No 6 on the second shelf down. Roast for about 10 – 15 minutes, turn them over and continue to roast until nice and golden.


Ready to parboil the parsnips.

Wrapped and ready for the oven.

All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Kitschnflavours:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny Hepburn

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