Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey
This past Tuesday morning at about 6:00 am, I jumped out of bed in a mad rush to get downstairs and make a turkey. Time is tight these days and I knew I had a short window to clean, season and brown it before the kids woke up and our day got crazy . I know I can make a turkey but, I’ve never had to write a recipe for one before. I felt I needed to test mine so, come turkey day, you would have one you could rely on to prepare for your family celebration.
This also happened to be the same morning I was testing out the chocolate mousse recipe I learned in culinary school the night before. As my husband got ready to leave the house he looked at me like I was a little crazy and asked, “What’s with the turkey?”. “Um, hello, I’m a food blogger and Thanksgiving is next week.” “What is the chocolate for?” “Mousse!” Poor guy. See what he has to deal with? I can only hope the benefit of being my #1 taster outweighs the craziness!
This turkey is fool-proof and so tasty! You brown it for 30-minutes at 500 degrees before reducing the temperature and allowing it to roast slowly and maintain it’s juiciness. By the time the kids woke up at 6:40, I had the turkey in the oven for about 15 minutes. The high temperature caused a lot of dripping and burning and yes, my fire alarm went off a couple of times from the smoke but, once that was finished and the turkey was roasting, my house had the welcoming and cozy smell of home-cooking for the day.
This recipe is a version of the tried, tested and true Good Eats Roast Turkey Recipe from Alton Brown. There are over 4,000 ratings on Alton’s recipe and the average is 5/5 stars. I don’t like to mess too much with perfection however, I didn’t prepare a brine because I was curious how it would turn out without one. I wanted this recipe to be easy for those who may never have prepared a turkey before and who might be intimidated by that type of process. Guess what? It was still ridiculously tender and delicious!
While the turkey was in the oven, I prepared a simple gravy using the neck and the same herbs in the aromatics. I thickened it with a little cornstarch at the end and the result was extremely flavorful without being overly heavy. Overall, I was very happy with this turkey and I’m sure you will be too.
In case you are wondering what one does with a whole turkey and some chocolate mousse the week before Thanksgiving…I was able to invite some friends over for lunch with their kids the next day. I also made homemade turkey stock for the real Thanksgiving gravy next week and have been playing around with recipes for leftover turkey to share with you. I just might make this a tradition! Thank you for the inspiration and Happy Thanksgiving!
- 14-16lb Turkey, fully thawed, if frozen (I used a frozen Butterball turkey and let it defrost in the refrigerator for 5 days before cooking it)
- ¼ C white vinegar
- ½ stick butter, melted (you can make this dairy and top 8 free by subbing canola oil in for the butter)
- 3 T garlic salt
- 1 apple, quartered
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 10 whole pieces of allspice
- 1 C water
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 6 sage leaves
- small bunch tarragon
- fresh ground pepper
- 2 T olive oil
- turkey neck
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 quart chicken stock (or turkey stock, if you have it)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 2 sage leaves
- 1-2 sprigs of tarragon
- 2 T cornstarch
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees
- Clean turkey and removed all innards (very easy since they are just in bags). Save the neck to use for gravy.
- Place turkey in a large pan and splash vinegar over it.
- Brush melted butter and sprinkle garlic salt and ground pepper all over the outside of the turkey.
- Place the turkey in a roasting pan, breast side up.
- Put the apple, onion, cinnamon and allspice in a bowl with water and microwave it for 5 minutes on high. Drain the water and add these items to the cavity of the turkey along with the fresh rosemary, sage and tarragon.
- Tuck the wing tips under the bird so they don’t burn (Butterball turkeys already come with the legs tucked in, which is nice)
- Place the turkey on the lowest level of the oven and roast it for 30 minutes, until the skin starts to brown.
- Start prepping homemade gravy, if you are going to make it.
- Insert a roasting thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.
- Leave the door of the oven closed until the temperature reaches between 165-170 degrees.
- Remove from the oven, cover with foil and let it sit for about ½ hour before serving alongside gravy.
- Heat saucepan over medium heat.
- Add olive oil, turkey neck, onion, celery, carrot and cook for about 10 minutes until vegetables are translucent and turkey neck is browned.
- Add stock and fresh herbs, bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for at least 1 hour, up to 2, adding water and salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
- Pour through a strainer to create a broth.
- Return to saucepan and add cornstarch, whisking continuously to thicken, for about 5 minutes (this will not produce a very thick gravy, more of an au jus. If you would like thicker gravy, you should sub rice flour or an all-purpose gluten-free flour in for cornstarch and add as much as you need to reach desired consistency).
- Serve turkey with gravy and enjoy!