How to Make the Perfect Turkey and Gravy - dummies

How to Make the Perfect Turkey and Gravy

By Dede Wilson

Turkey is an inexpensive main course. There’s no need to get too fancy with it. Simple cooking techniques work just fine. But if you want to try something a little fancy, but not too pricey this year for Thanksgiving, you can’t go wrong with the maple-glazed turkey offered here:

Start with the turkey

The bird called for in this recipe is large; make sure that it fits in your oven.

Special equipment: Large roasting pan and rack to fit, instant-read or digital/probe thermometer, fine mesh strainer, fat skimmer (optional)

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 5 hours

Yield: 15 to 20 servings

20-pound turkey, preferably fresh, giblets and neck removed and set aside

2 oranges

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Salt and pepper to taste

4 sprigs fresh thyme

4 sprigs fresh sage

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 onion, cut into eighths

3 tablespoons maple syrup

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest setting. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

  2. Wash the turkey inside and out and pat it dry with paper towels. Roll the oranges on your work surface while applying pressure to release the juices, and then prick the skins all over with a fork. Rub the turkey cavity with 2 tablespoons of the butter and season with salt and pepper. Insert the whole oranges, thyme, and sage into the bird’s cavity.

  3. Truss the turkey with kitchen twine. Rub the turkey all over with the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter. Pour the chicken broth into the pan and scatter the vegetables evenly over the bottom. Place the turkey on a rack in the roasting pan, breast side down.

  4. Roast the turkey for 3 hours, basting 3 or 4 times. Turn the turkey so that the breast faces up and roast for 1 hour more, basting twice. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees, brush the turkey with the maple syrup, and roast until the skin is crisp and a thermometer inserted between the leg and thigh registers 170 degrees, about 1 hour more. The turkey should sit out of the oven for at least 30 minutes before serving.

When rotating the bird, try wearing clean rubber gloves to insulate your hands from the heat and slippery bird. Or wear hot mitts with pieces of foil between the bird and the mitts. If the turkey is browning too quickly at any point, simply cover the browning parts with aluminum foil.

Prepare the stock

In conjunction with the turkey, you are certain to want gravy. You start by making stock, while the turkey is still roasting:

Reserved giblets and neck

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

4 cups water

2 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 onion, unpeeled, cut into eighths

4 parsley stems

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat.

  2. Turn down the heat and simmer until reduced to about 3 cups liquid, about 2 hours. Cool.

  3. Remove the giblets and chop finely. Remove any meat from the neck and chop finely. Set the meat aside.

  4. Strain the stock and discard the veggies and herbs.

Prepare the gravy

[Credit: © Islander 2011]
Credit: © Islander 2011

Gather the following ingredients and follow these steps to turn your stock into gravy.

Pan drippings

1/2 cup white wine

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup flour

3 cups Stock

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. When the turkey is done place it on a carving board or serving platter to rest, covering it loosely with foil to keep it warm.

  2. Pour the pan drippings from the roasting pan through a fine mesh strainer, and then use a fat separator to eliminate the excess fat. Alternatively, pour the drippings into a measuring cup (after straining them) and skim off the fat. Measure up to 1 cup of the pan drippings and add it back to the roasting pan. Place the roasting pan on a burner on high heat and bring to a boil.

    This specially designed cup isolates fat at the top so that pan drippings can be poured from bottom.
    This specially designed cup isolates fat at the top so that pan drippings can be poured from bottom.
  3. Add the white wine to the boiling pan drippings and stir, scraping up any browned bits that are on the bottom of the pan. Boil for about 2 minutes to combine the flavors and thicken the pan drippings. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.

  4. In a clean saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes until golden brown. Slowly add the pan drippings and enough of the stock to make the gravy have the desired consistency; you may not use all of the stock. Whisk to prevent lumping.

  5. Stir in the reserved chopped giblets and neck meat, if desired. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the turkey.

Per serving: Calories 584 (From Fat 261); Fat 29g (Saturated 10g); Cholesterol 258mg; Sodium 203mg; Carbohydrate 4g (Dietary Fiber 0g); Protein72g.