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Roasted Turkey (no stuffing) with Gravy

Turkey:

10 - 12 pound turkey, fresh or thawed
olive oil or melted butter
coarse Kosher salt and black pepper
1 whole orange (optional)
curly lettuce or kale leaves, for garnish (optional)

Gravy:

3 tbsp. rendered turkey fat, from roasting pan (make sure you're getting the fat and not the juices--it's easy to tell if you remove all the liquid to a Pyrex glass first; the fat floats to the top)
2 cups chicken stock or giblet broth (instructions in Step 5)
     if making giblet broth, you'll also need: 1 carrot, 1/2 onion,
     and the stems from
1 bunch of parsley
3 tbsp. flour
salt and pepper
a pinch of nutmeg

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Remove giblets from body or neck cavity (leaving them in is a common first-timer mistake). Rinse turkey in plenty of cold running water. Pat dry with towels.
  2. Fold the wings behind the turkey's shoulders so that it looks like it's sunbathing with its hands behind its head. This makes the turkey easier to handle and keeps the wings from drying out as quickly.
  3. Most commercially-available turkeys include a little metal holder that lets you lock the feet in place. Unlock the legs one at a time to access the body cavity. Sprinkle the inside with salt and pepper. If you're using the orange, which will subtly flavor the turkey and keep it moist, drop it into the body cavity. Pop legs back into holder.
  4. Generously spread entire turkey with olive oil. Salt and pepper. Oil rack or bottom of pan, and place turkey breast down into pan. This makes the juices flow into the breast instead of out of it while the bird cooks. Make sure breast is well oiled--you don't want the yummy skin to stick.
  5. If you're using giblet broth for the gravy, start it now. Put giblets minus liver in a saucepan with 1/4 chopped onion and some parsley. Add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour, adding water as necessary to cover. Strain and set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. Roast for 3 - 3 1/2 hours, basting with olive oil every 30 to 45 minutes. Remove turkey from oven (close oven door). Check temperature by inserting meat thermometer into thickest part of the thigh meat, avoiding the bone. It should read close to 165°. If it's way lower (say, under 145°), put the turkey in for another 30 minutes, then check temperature again. If you're at or approaching 165°, then crank the oven up to 400°, flip that baby over so it's breast side up, spread with plenty of olive oil or melted butter, and roast for another 20 - 30 minutes, until the skin is nice and brown.
  7. Let turkey rest for 20 - 30 minutes before carving. This gives the juices time to settle back into the meat. Carving too early will give you a dry bird. While the turkey is resting, make your gravy.
  8. Pour off the liquid from the roasting pan into a Pyrex glass; the fat will float to the top. Skim off 3 tablespoons of fat. Discard extra fat and reserve remaining liquid. Heat 3 tablespoons of the fat in a large saucepan. Sprinkle in flour and combine well. Cook roux for a few moments, stirring constantly. Pour in chicken stock or giblet broth, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring or whisking constantly, for a few minutes, adding reserved pan juices as necessary to achieve your desired consistency. Remember: gravy will thicken as it cools; so don't reduce it too much.
  9. If you've made stuffing, spoon it onto perimeter of serving platter; otherwise, dress platter with clean lettuce or kale leaves. Place bird in center of platter. If you want to make a big to-do, then go parade it out in front of everyone. If you're confident, carve it at the table. If not, take it back into the kitchen so you can carve it without a million eyes on you.

To carve turkey:

Legs and wings: Using a carving fork to hold turkey steady, remove legs by cutting straight down between the leg and the body. You might need to wiggle the knife around a bit to separate the joint. Cut through skin at knee joint, then, gently separate drumstick, again wiggling your knife around to separate the joint. Slice thigh meat and leave drumsticks whole. Cut the wings from body and leave whole.

Breast: Holding breast steady with carving fork, cut thick, angled slices from breast, running parallel to breast bone. Repeat on other side. Alternately, you can remove each whole breast from the carcass and slice it like a roast, which you may find easier overall.

 

 

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