Holiday Herb-Brined Roasted Whole Turkey with Gravy
By Chef Jet
November 5, 2020
Every good cook needs to know how to roast a turkey for the holidays. Practice will make perfect. Don’t be daunted by the size of the bird. Give yourself ample days to defrost it in the fridge if buying frozen. I am a believer in brining to keep the turkey moist and seasoned. I’ll show you how to make a gravy too!
1To make the brine, in a large pot, combine the hot water, salt and brown sugar and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the fresh sage, orange zest and cold water and stir to combine.
2To make the turkey, line an extra-large stockpot with a large, heavy plastic bag (about 30-gallon [108-L] capacity). Rinse the turkey, place it in the plastic bag and pour the brine over the turkey. Gather the plastic bag tightly around the turkey so that the bird is covered with brine, then seal the plastic bag. Refrigerate the pot with the turkey in the brine for at least 12 hours and up to 18 hours.
3Preheat the oven to 325°F (170°C).
4Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse VERY well inside and out. Pat dry. In a small food processor, combine the butter, citrus zests, sage and salt and process until very well combined.
5Use your hand to separate the skin from the flesh of the turkey around the breasts and liberally rub the butter mixture in this area. Fill the cavity with the citrus quarters, onion, garlic and parsley, then pin the cavity back together with a skewer and tie the legs together with twine. Fold the smallest part of the wings back to sit under the turkey to avoid burning. Place the turkey on a roasting rack in a heavy-bottomed roasting pan, breast-side up. Rub the top of the breast skin with a bit of the butter mixture and cover this area only VERY TIGHTLY with foil. Add the stock to the bottom of the pan.
6Transfer to the oven and roast the turkey for 31⁄4 to 4 hours, or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165°F (74°C). For the last hour, remove the foil and baste with the pan drippings often. During roasting, if the pan starts to dry up, add more turkey stock. Remove the turkey from the oven and from the pan and place it on a carving board. Brush with the pan drippings again and cover with foil. (Note: It’s important the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before carving. Resting will allow the juices to stay in the bird, making it juicy and moist.)
7In the meantime, to make the gravy, remove the pan drippings and pour into a larger separator. Strain the liquid into a measuring cup and add enough turkey stock to make about 6 cups (1.4 L). Measure 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) of the fat from the top of the liquid. Place the roasting pan on top of two burners on the stove over medium heat. Add the fat to the pan and whisk in the flour. Cook until the flour has just begun to brown, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the measured stock and drippings and the sherry. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the gravy begins to simmer and thicken, about 1 to 2 minutes. Taste; there should be no taste of flour. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.