This recipe started about 15 years ago, after the first turkey I ever cooked took 9 hours to roast. It wasn’t the turkey’s fault-I was following (what I thought) were the right directions. Cook it on low heat, for absolutely forever, and you’ll get a great turkey. However, if you’re like me, you might not have thought about defrosting the turkey as early as you needed. Or, you may have waited until the last minute to buy one-which means you get the tiny ones, or the giant monstrosity that may/may not actually fit into your oven.
This year, a monstrosity is what we ended up with, because ‘someone’ thought it would be smart to get the biggest one in the store. For that reason, we decided it would be best to go with what we knew would work-a tried and true recipe that, although not fancy, would be a relatively fuss-free way to get the job done.
This recipe was adapted from an old Food & Wine Magazine turkey recipe, in part because there was no way I was going to saw this bird in half while raw (Also known as ‘spatchcocking’, a prep method that involves removing the spine of the bird, and laying it out flat in the pan. This helps poultry cook faster, but it’s also a giant mess.), and also because I forgot to get all of the ingredients that it called for. No one seemed to notice-probably because there was plenty of amazing wines, and also because it still tasted pretty darn good.
Although Food & Wine recommended pairing a Chardonnay with this turkey recipe, we decided to pair with Tussock Jumper’s Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. As it turns out, turkey with Sauvignon Blanc wine is quite awesome.
Easy Roasted Turkey Recipe
- 1 – 18-20 lb turkey
- 4 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
- 4-6 granny smith apples, quartered
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into 8 pieces
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 carrots, peeled
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 orange, quartered (after zesting)
- 12 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 stick unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp fresh black pepper
- Handful of thyme, stems removed, leaves chopped
- 8 sprigs of rosemary, stems removed, leaves chopped
- Additional sea salt
- Additional fresh black pepper
PREP YOUR PAN AND BIRD
Line a roasting pan with heavy duty aluminum foil for easy clean up. Place your roasting rack in the pan. Turn oven on to 425º F.
Fully defrost your turkey. Take out the gizzards and neck, and set aside. Remove any remaining ice, and rinse inside and out with water. Pat dry, and set into your pan.
Rub the turkey inside and out with the apple cider vinegar; season liberally with salt and pepper. Add the carrots, onions, celery, apples, thyme, and half of the orange to the cavity of the turkey. Put uncovered into the refrigerator while you prep the butter, for at least 15 minutes, or up to an hour. This helps the skin dry out a bit. Dry turkey skin equals crispy turkey skin!
MAKE THE HERBED BUTTER
In a medium bowl, combine butter, salt, pepper, orange zest, and herbs. Mix well. Keep cool, but still spreadable. (also great on rolls at the table, but don’t use anything that’s come in contact with raw poultry!)
Separate the turkey skin from the breast meat. Spread the herbed butter under the skin of the breasts, pressing to distribute it evenly, then smear it all over the bird, adding additional salt and pepper at the end. Tuck the wings under the breast (I use toothpicks or bamboo skewers to hold them in place).
Toss the rest of the vegetables and fruit into the roasting pan-in, under, and around the bird.
Turn your oven down to 400° F, and slide in the pan. Roast for approximately 4 hours, basting every 15 minutes. Remember, you’re cooking on higher heat than most will tell you to do. DO NOT FORGET TO BASTE, OR YOUR TURKEY WILL DRY OUT.
Once the turkey gets to a light to medium golden brown, tent it with foil, and continue roasting. About 15 minutes before it is done, take off the foil, turn the heat up to 450° F, and continue roasting.
Oven temperatures vary, so start checking it after 3 hours. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the inner thigh registers 165°, and the thickest part of the breast registers 160°. Remember that the temperature will continue to rise by 5-10 degrees AFTER you take it out of the oven!
Let rest for 30 minutes. Carve and serve.
TO MAKE THE GRAVY:
Personally, I don’t like to eat animal organs, as they are a natural filter that eliminates toxins and waste. That part is up to you. We did, however make a broth with the neck.
Fast & Easy Turkey Gravy
- 3 cups of turkey stock (you can also use chicken stock-get the good stuff, so it has flavor)
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbs butter or olive oil
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tbs cornstarch (optional)
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the butter or olive oil on medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic until soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, stirring well. (you’re basically making a roux)
Once the flour is completely incorporated into the fat, cook for about 2 minutes over medium heat, then slowly pour 1/2 cup of stock at a time into the pan and whisk constantly to incorporate the flour.
Keep doing this, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, until the gravy starts looking more like a smooth sauce. If you like it a little thinner, leave out the cornstarch. If you like thicker gravy, you can add a shot glass of cool broth to the cornstarch, whisk together, and then add to the gravy.