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!
I can vouch for this turkey as I was lucky enough to be able to try it – delicious and so moist! Enjoy!
Thanks Suzanne!! So glad you were able to come over for lunch!
I’m hosting my first Thanksgiivng this year (for 15 people) and going to use your turkey and gravy recipe! Sounds delish. Thanks Jackie!