Oh yeah – turkey thighs stuffed with olives and cooked in a savory, salty balsamic broth until tender. Sound divine? These decadent Olive Balsamic Turkey Thighs are so fast and easy in the Instant Pot. Olives and balsamic vinegar give turkey dark meat a unique and absolutely divine flavor.
I don’t know why turkey and olives taste so good together, but who am I to question? The palate wants what the palate wants. Toss those together and add a little balsamic vinegar to the pot and the result is absolutely savory and divine.
I don’t use my Instant Pot a whole lot, but it seemed perfect for this recipe.
We have a special way of making turkey for Thanksgiving. Okay, so this isn’t officially Thanksgiving, but bear with me for a sec… When we cook our turkey, we cut slices in the bird and stuff them with cloves of garlic and whole, pimento-stuffed olives. The result is incredibly savory, flavorful meat that you never get tired of eating. Some people get ‘turkied out’ after T-day, but not around here. What we don’t eat (which is just the carcass) we use for bone broth.
Why use turkey thighs?
We use boneless and skinless turkey thighs for a couple of reasons. First, we make raw cat food for our cats and will buy whole, untrimmed turkey thighs. They’re pretty big. So why should the kitties get all the yuumy meat? We had about five pounds left over from making a big batch of kitty food, so I decided they would make a great dish in the Instant Pot. The second reason we use thighs is that they contain more fat than turkey breast, which is perfect for eating a ketogenic diet. You may have thought we eat the thighs because they naturally have more flavor, right? Okay, well that’s true, too. Dark meat tends to be tastier than breast meat (even though I love the breast, too. Especially stuffed with olives and garlic).
If you don’t have boneless and skinless thighs, no worries! You can follow the same instructions and the meat will fall off the bones! And, I’ll bet it will work for turkey breast, too. I haven’t tried that yet, so if you do, please let me know how it turns out!
What kind of olives to use?
I really like to use pimento stuffed Spanish olives. If you don’t have these around, that’s fine! You can use kalamatas, if you’d like. I just happened to have a giant stash of both from a recent trip to Costco. I like to make my own olive tampenade and Spicy Marinated Olives, so buying them in bulk is right up my alley.
How to make
First, I season and brown all of my meat before I cook it in the Instant Pot or in the slow cooker. It helps to seal in the juices and makes the meat so incredibly tender.
Honestly, I still use my good ol’ cast iron skillet to brown my meat and poultry. Even though the Instant Pot has a sauté setting, I still think it browns so much better in cast iron. But how to sear the turkey is completely up to you!
After the turkey thighs are browned, I cut several slits in the meat, about 1 inch deep, and slide the olives into the cuts in the meat. If the olives are just too large, simply slice them in half and stuff the turkey thighs. I stuff an olive in the thighs about every 2 inches – I love the olive flavor infused in the meat!
If you don’t need to stay low-FODMAP, then you can also stuff some of these slits with whole garlic cloves. Not that these need any extra flavor, of course!
After the turkey is packed with olives, just whip up the liquid ingredients and pour over the turkey. Put the lid on the instant pot, bring to pressure, and cook for 90 minutes. I just let the pressure release naturally.
Don’t have an Instant Pot? You can use your slow cooker!
I love using my slow cooker to make my Pulled Pork recipe. In fact, I like it better than cooking in my Instant Pot. These turkey thighs can be made the same way and will be just as delicious. I would let them cook on low for about 8 hours and they should be totally falling apart!
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Olive Balsamic Turkey Thighs
- 4 pounds turkey thighs
- 3 tablespoons of spice blend (below)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup olives (I use green Spanish, stuffed with pimento)
- ⅓ cup olive brine
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ⅓ cup broth (chicken, turkey or veggie works great.)
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or substitute red pepper flakes Read more about Aleppo pepper.)
For the spice blend
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon kala namak black salt (or sea salt. Read more about Kala Namak salt here)
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon basil
- 1 tablespoon rosemary
- 1 tablespoon powdered porcini mushrooms (optional, but recommended)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder (optional for low-FODMAP)
- Add spices for the spice blend to a mortar and pestal, and grind into a powder.
- Sprinkle the entire surface area of the turkey thighs with the spice blend, getting it into all the nooks and crannies. Pat to press the spices into the meat.
- In the Instant Pot, on sautee setting, or in a cast iron skillet on the stove top, brown the spiced turkey thighs in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Try to get as much surface area browned as possible.
- Put the browned turkey thighs in the Instant Pot, if you browned them on the stove top.
- Cut about 1 inch slits in the turkey thighs and stuff with the olives. If the olives are too large, slice them in half and stuff the slits with olive halves.
- Combine the olive brine, broth, Aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes) and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.
- Pour the mixture over the turkey.
- Put the cover on the Instant Pot and cook for 90 minutes on poultry setting.
- When finished, use the natural release method to release the pressure.
- Serve it up! Make sure you save some of the ‘sauce’ to pour over the turkey, once plated.
Slow cooker optionTo make this recipe in a slow cooker, prepare and brown the turkey thighs as mentioned above. Then place in the crock pot on low for about 8 hours.
*Net carbs = carbohydrates – fiber
Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools and does not include optional ingredients unless otherwise indicated.
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