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As a young bride, I didn't have a clue what to do with a turkey or even a whole chicken. I made many mistakes (I even left the gizzards in the body cavity) but I've come a long way since then! When posting this recipe, I'm including the basics for preparation of the bird, my recipe for pan gravy, a simple cooking timetable and carving instructions. Since my family isn't fussy about stuffing, I do a smaller amount to fill the neck cavity only. I hope this will help new brides ....... and seasoned pros!
- 1 Spanish onions or 2 yellow onions, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 peppercorns, crushed
- 1 (12 -14 lb) whole turkey
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
- 3 -4 slices bacon
- 1 turkey neck
- 1 turkey gizzard
- 1 turkey heart
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 stalk celery & leaves, chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 sprigs parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon peppercorn
- 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons water
- 6 cups turkey broth
- 1⁄2 cup dry white wine (optional)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
- BUY THE BIRD: Allow 1.5 lbs/person; if the bird is smaller (under 12 lbs), allow 2 lbs/person.
- PREPARE THE BIRD: If the bird is frozen, defrost in the coldest part of the refrigerator; when defrosting a very large bird, I use my cooler.
- Remove the giblets and rinse the bird, inside & outside, under cold, running water; pat it dry, inside & out with paper towels.
- PREPARE THE STOCK FOR PAN GRAVY: Chop neck into 5 or 6 pieces, cut gizzard & heart in half and place in large saucepan.
- Add 8 cups of cold water, bring to a boil & skim off foam; add vegetables & seasoning.
- Lower heat, cover & simmer over low heat for 2 hours; strain – this can be refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to 2 days in advance.
- COOK THE BIRD: Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and sauté vegetables until lightly browned, about 7 or 8 minutes; let cool, then mix in sage, thyme, bay leaf & peppercorns.
- Stuff body cavity with vegetable mixture.
- Skewer cavity shut, tie legs together and tuck wings under the back.
- Place turkey, breast side up on a greased rack in a roasting pan; brush with butter and sprinkle with salt & pepper; cover criss cross fashion with 3 or 4 slices of bacon.
- Roast the turkey in a preheated 325F oven: 10 to 12 lbs - 3.5 hours, 12 to 15 lbs - 4 hours, 15 to 18 lbs - 4.25 hours, 18 to 21 lbs - 4.75 hours -- increase by 1/2 hour if the body cavity has been stuffed.
- I cover the bird with a foil tent for the first 1 1/2 hours so it doesn't get too brown too fast; then I remove the foil (except for leg & wing areas) and continue roasting, basting with the pan drippings every 20 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 180°F - if there aren't enough drippings in the pan for basting, I use some dry white wine.
- Remove the skewers; spoon the vegetable mixture & juices into a bowl and set aside.
- Lift the turkey onto a warmed platter, tent with foil and let stand for at least 20 minutes and up to 30 minutes to let it relax; this will give the juices time to settle into the flesh, breast, and leg, and you’ll have a juicier, more succulent bird - if you start carving the turkey right after removing it from the oven the juices will run from the meat and the turkey breast will be dry.
- MAKE THE GRAVY: Skim all but 2 tbsps of fat from the pan juices; whisk flour & water together in a small bowl, then whisk into the pan.
- Place the pan over medium heat and cook for 2 minutes, scraping up any brown bits from the pan bottom.
- Gradually whisk in stock & wine, add vegetable mixture & seasoning; bring to a boil and continue to boil, stirring constantly, until reduced by half, about 15 minutes.
- Strain into a warmed gravy boat.
- CARVE THE BIRD: Using paper towels or a clean kitchen towel, transfer the bird to a platter or carving board.
- Cut through the trussing with kitchen shears & discard string.
- Remove the drumsticks by placing the knife against the thigh & cutting down to expose the leg; apply pressure at the joint with the knifepoint, twist the knife & cut through.
- Slice open the neck cavity with an oval incision that allows you to remove the stuffing.
- Remove the breast by cutting straight down the breastbone, working the knife around the wishbone area and pushing the breast outwards. Continue to cut through the joint where the wing bone joins the breast and remove the breast. Put the breast on a cutting board and remove the wing and winglet.
- Slice straight down through the breast meat at an angle using a sawing action. Cut the turkey into 3/8” thick slices. This carving motion gives you a nice slice and a piece of skin. You can then either plate the slices or put them onto a serving platter.
- After you’re finished eating take the left over turkey completely off the bone because of the threat of bacterial growth. You can use the bones for soup broth.
This is the most helpful recipe on this site! Thank you, CountryLady for sharing this! I struggle every year with the turkey and this should solve all the problems that I have. Thanks again! :-)