Chef John's Roast Turkey and Gravy



Chef John's Roast Turkey and Gravy


“The biggest myth in all of American cookery is the belief that a juicy, perfectly cooked turkey is difficult for the novice cook to achieve. One of the secrets to a moist, delicious, and beautiful turkey is spreading butter under the skin. You can season the butter any way you want; the possibilities are endless.” —Chef John

Ingredients

2tablespoons kosher salt
1tablespoon ground black pepper
1tablespoon poultry seasoning
1(12 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets reserved
2onions, coarsely chopped
3ribs celery, coarsely chopped
2carrots, coarsely chopped
3sprigs fresh rosemary
½bunch fresh sage
½cup butter
1bay leaf
6cups water
2tablespoons turkey fat
1tablespoon butter
¼cup all-purpose flour
3cups turkey pan drippings
¼teaspoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
1tablespoon chopped fresh sage
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

Mix 2 tablespoons salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper, and poultry seasoning in a small bowl. Tuck turkey wings under the bird, and season cavity with about 1 tablespoon of the poultry seasoning mixture. Reserve remaining poultry seasoning mix.

Toss the onion, celery, and carrots together in a bowl. Stuff about 1/2 cup of the vegetable mixture, rosemary sprigs, and 1/2 bunch sage into the cavity of the turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen string. Loosen the skin on top of the turkey breast using fingers or a small spatula. Place about 2 tablespoons butter under the skin and spread evenly. Spread the remaining butter (about 2 tablespoons) all over the outside of the skin. Sprinkle the outside of the turkey with the remaining poultry seasoning mix.

Spread the remaining onion, celery, and carrots into a large roasting pan. Place the turkey on top of the vegetables. Fill the pan with about 1/2 inch of water. Arrange a sheet of aluminum foil over the breast of the turkey.
Roast the turkey in the preheated oven until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 3 1/2 hours. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 165 degrees F (75 degrees C). 

Remove the foil during the last hour of cooking. Baste the turkey with the pan juices.
While the turkey is roasting, make stock: place neck, heart, and gizzards in a saucepan with the bay leaf and water. Simmer over medium heat for 2 hours. Strain the turkey giblets from the stock, and discard giblets. There should be at least 4 cups of stock.

Remove the turkey from the oven, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Pour the pan juices, about 3 cups, into a saucepan and set aside. Skim off the turkey fat from the pan juices, reserving about 2 tablespoons.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the turkey fat and 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan over medium heat. 

Transfer the onion from the roasting pan into the skillet. Cook and stir until the onion is browned, about 5 minutes, then stir in the flour. Continue to cook and stir for about 5 minutes more; whisk in 4 cups of the skimmed turkey stock and the reserved pan juices until smooth; skim off any foam. Stir in the balsamic vinegar. Simmer until the gravy is thickened, whisking constantly, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of chopped sage, and season to taste with salt and black pepper.

*Cook’s Note:
For thicker gravy, double the amounts of turkey fat, butter, and flour in the gravy part of this recipe.