The Chef Upstairs



Dry-Rubbed Roast Turkey with Pan Gravy

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tbsp finely grated orange zest (from about 3 medium oranges)
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt (more as needed)
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • One 12 to 15 lb. fresh turkey (do not use Butterball or self-basting)
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks
  • 2 medium celery stalks, cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
  • 1-1/2 cups lower-salt chicken stock 
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Tip: Use a fresh or all-natural turkey. Avoid kosher birds (they’re already brined and will be too salty) and “self-basting” birds (which are treated with fat solutions). Consider ordering your bird in advance.

Season the turkey (1 day prior to cooking)
In a medium bowl, mix the sage, zest, kosher salt, and 1 Tbs. pepper.
Remove the tail, neck, heart, and gizzard from the turkey and reserve for making turkey stock. Discard the liver. Remove and discard the plastic timer and any metal or plastic leg holders. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.
Slip your hand between the skin and the meat of the turkey to create space to spread the rub. Rub the spice mixture under the turkey’s skin over the entire breast, legs, and thighs, as well as in the cavity and over the wings. Set on a platter or pan large enough to hold the turkey and refrigerate uncovered overnight.

Roast the turkey
Position a rack in the bottom of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

Tip: If using a convection oven, a 12 to 15 lb bird will be cooked in about 2.5 hours. Check with a thermometer at 1 hr 45 minutes to make sure it is not over cooked.

In a large bowl, toss the carrots, celery, and onion with the oil. Put half of the vegetables in the center of a large flameproof roasting pan and put the rest in the turkey cavity. Tuck the wings behind the turkey’s neck and tie the legs together with twine. Set a V-rack in the roasting pan over the vegetables and add 2 cups of water or stock. Put the turkey breast side down on the V-rack and roast for 1 hour basting every 20 minutes. Check the vegetables when you baste: They should be brown but don’t let them burn. If necessary add 1 to 2 cups of water or stock if the vegetables are drying out—you may need to do this several times.

After 1 hour remove the pan from the oven and baste the turkey back and sides with some of the pan drippings. With silicone oven mitts or two wads of paper towels, carefully turn the turkey breast side up and baste with more pan drippings.

After flippin' the bird, reduce the heat to 325F and continue to roast the turkey until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 175°F, an additional 1-1/2 hours or more.

When the turkey is done, protect your hands with silicone oven mitts or wads of paper towels and tilt the turkey so the juices in the cavity run into the roasting pan. Transfer the turkey to a carving board , tent with aluminum foil and let it rest for 30 to 40 minutes. Carve when ready to serve.

Tip: Let your turkey rest for 30 to 40 minutes before carving—the juices will redistribute into the meat, making it moist and tender. It also gives you time to finish preparing the meal.

Make the Gravy
Tip: For lump-free gravy, gradually whisk the stock into the roux verrrry slowwwwwly. As you add the stock the mixture will get thick and gluey, so keep whisking in more stock, a bit at a time, until the gravy is smooth.

While the turkey is resting, set the roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add the wine and cook, using a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula to loosen the brown bits, until reduced by about half, 2 to 3 minutes. Strain the contents of the roasting pan into a bowl, pressing on the solids to release the flavorful drippings. Discard the solids.

In a 1-quart or larger measuring cup, add the chicken stock. Slowly add enough of the pan drippings to the stock to make a flavorful yet not overly salted liquid—you may or may not use all of the drippings. Let sit until the fat rises to the surface. Skim off and reserve as much fat as possible.

Measure 4 tbsp of the fat and/or unsalted butter into a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until it forms thick dry clumps (add more flour if necessary). Cook whisking almost constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add about 1 cup of the broth to the roux very slowly, in a very thin stream, while whisking constantly. As soon as the broth thickens, whisk in another cup continuing to add in a very slow stream. Continue adding the stock until the mixture is relatively smooth, at which point you can whisk in the remaining broth. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes to develop the flavor. If the gravy is on the thin side and you prefer it thicker, continue simmering until thickened to your liking, but expect the flavor to concentrate as well. Before serving season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a gravy boat and serve with the carved turkey.

From Fine Cooking 101, pp. 30-31
September 3, 2009


Provençal Roast Turkey with Red Wine Gravy: For the dry rub, use 3 Tbs. herbes de Provence, 2 Tbs. finely grated orange zest, 4 tsp. fennel seeds (crushed), 1 oz. kosher salt, and 4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Substitute 1/3 cup dry red wine for the white wine or vermouth.

From Fine Cooking 101, pp. 30-31
September 3, 2009