Prep 20 mins
Cook 4 hrs
From Ruth Van Waerebeek’s “Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook.” This has become my standard Thanksgiving turkey recipe. I follow it precisely, alternately basting with drippings and butter every 15 minutes. The result is a spectacular presentation—a beautiful, dark golden brown turkey that everyone ooh’s and ahh’s over. It’s not that hard, just takes a little extra work. And the extras—making the forcemeat stuffing beforehand and the gravy at the end—are worth the trouble. Ruth says that the Christmas Turkey is traditionally served with Deep-Fried Potatoe Croquettes, Celery Root and Potato Purée, an assortment of green vegetables, and Baked Apples Filed with Berries, or Pears Poached in Spiced Red Wine.
- 1 (12 -14 lb) whole turkey, neck and giblets reserved
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted for basting
- salt, to taste
- fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 carrots, peeled and quartered
- 1 celery rib, quartered
- 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 cup water, if needed or 1 cup chicken broth
- 1⁄4 cup cognac, for gravy
- 1⁄4 cup port wine, for gravy
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, for buerre manie for gravy
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for buerre manie for gravy
- Place a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Prepare the Mushroom-Flavored Forcemeat. (See separate recipe.).
- Stuff the turkey with forcemeat and truss with kitchen string. Spread the softened butter evenly over the turkey. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Bake any leftover stuffing in a small casserole, just like meat loaf.
- Spread the carrots, celery, and onion the bottom of a flameproof roasting pan large enough to hold the turkey. Place the turkey on top of the vegetables. Add the neck and giblets and pour the reserved soaking liquid from the porcini mushrooms (see Forcemeat recipe) into the pan.
- Roast the turkey for 1 hour. Reduce the heat to 300°F and roast until cooked through, 2-1/2 hours or more for a 12–14 pound turkey. An instant-read thermometer should register between 160 to 180°F when thrust into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone. Baste the turkey every 15 minutes the entire time that it is roasting. Baste with drippings, alternating with the melted butter. If necessary, add 1 cup water or chicken broth to the drippings in the bottom of the pan. If the turkey starts to get too brown, cover loosely with aluminum foil. Remove the foil for the last 20 minutes to crisp the skin.
- Remove the turkey from the over to a platter. Let rest for 30 minutes before carving.
- While the turkey is resting, prepare the gravy: Place the roasting pan over high heat. Add the cognac and port and bring to a boil while stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up the little browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add a little water if the gravy seems too dry. Remove from the heat and strain out all the vegetables. Pour the liquid into a degreasing cup (also called a gravy separator). Let stand for a few minutes to let the fat rise to the top, then pour out the pan juices at the bottom of the cup into a saucepan. (All the fat will be left behind.) Reheat and serve as pan juices with the turkey. If you prefer a thicker gravy, whisk the buerre manié into the juices and, stirring constantly, boil until the gravy is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes.
- Untie the turkey and carve it as you would a chicken. Scoop out the forcemeat and serve it on the side.