Make Ahead

Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey & Gravy

November  2, 2011
0 Ratings
  • Serves 6-12 depending on size of bird
Author Notes

This recipe is an adaptation from Mark Sullivan's turkey and gravy recipe given to just a handful of eager chefs/cooks a few thanksgiving's ago....It has been my family tradition ever since! Note: this recipe is easily halved for less people or if you are cooking chicken, quail or another type of poultry. —how to eat n'drink

What You'll Need
  • Simple Brined + Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey...
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 2-3 fennel bulbs, sliced
  • 30 cloves of fresh garlic, sliced
  • 3-4 oranges, sliced
  • 3 lemons, sliced and seeds discarded
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 gallon water, brought to a boil
  • 18 ounces kosher salt
  • 12 ounces honey
  • 3 tablespoons fennel seeds, toasted
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs rosemary, bruised
  • 12 sprigs thyme, bruised
  • 6 juniper berries, bruised
  • 2 gallons ice water
  • 1 12-18 pounds organic turkey
  • Dash Salt and Pepper (after the brine)
  • Crazy Good Gravy...
  • drippings from the roasted turkey
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3-4 shallots, minced
  • 3 sprigs thyme, stems removed and chopped
  1. Simple Brined + Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey...
  2. Sweat the onions, fennel and garlic in olive oil for 20 minutes over medium heat in a covered stock pot, careful to not color them.
  3. Cover with the boiling water and whisk in the salt and honey so that they disperse into the water. Add all the other ingredients ( citrus, herbs and spices) then turn off the heat to steep for 30 minutes.
  4. Chill the brine by adding 2 gallons of ice water.
  5. Rinse your turkey under cold water and place in a large vessel or pot. Pour the chilled brine over the bird and refrigerate for two or three days.
  6. Remove the bird from the brine and place in a vessel covered for one hour.
  7. Heat your oven to convection heat at 400 degrees. If using a still oven add 50 degrees to all the temperatures for this recipe. Note: use a quality thermometer preferably with a timer to gauge internal temperature.
  8. To properly roast a 16 pound bird you can plan on a 5 hour time span from start to finish. One hour to temper the bird by bringing it up to room temperature after removing it from the brine, 2 1/2 - 3 hours to cook the bird and a final hour to rest the bird after roasting. Tempering, roasting, and resting are the key to a perfectly roasted turkey or poultry for that matter.
  9. Stuff your bird with your preferred stuffing (I use a wild rice stuffing that I’ll post next), truss the bird with kitchen string. Season the bird liberally with salt and pepper. Roll out aluminum foil with parchment paper rolled out on-top of it. Then place the bird breast side down on the paper. Wrap the parchment around the bird and then the aluminum foil around that. It should look like a silver ball of sorts when done. Place the bird again breast side down into your roasting pan rack.
  10. Place the bird in the oven for 30 minutes only... then turn the oven down to 200 degrees for one hour.
  11. After one hour at 200 degrees, remove the turkey from the oven and open the foil and parchment. Flip the bird over and tightly close up the parchment and foil again. Return to the oven at 200 degrees and roast for another hour.
  12. After this next hour, you should be especially aware of the internal temperature before finishing the bird in the oven. Measure the temperature by piercing deep into the thigh. Look for a final temperature of 142-148 degrees. (148-160 for more doneness)
  13. Remove the bird after the two hours at 200 degrees and remove the parchment and foil allowing the juices to pool in the roasting pan. Crank the oven up to 375 (425 for non convection) and return the bird (breast side up again) to the oven until well browned and cooked to your desired cooking temp of 142-148. Expect a touch of pink near the joints for these temps but if you prefer a less moist bird you can cook it further. See above.
  14. Note: USDA recommends 180 for poultry, sadly this will result in the dried out birds of our childhoods...
  15. Once the bird has reached temp remove and place the turkey on a wood cutting board or platter to rest for one hour! Don’t forget to tip the bird in the roasting pan, you want to make sure to get all of those juices out for gravy... Resting for an hour will allow all the juices to disperse back into the flesh and give you the perfect crown jewel of the table this holiday, so don’t skip. If you can keep the bird in a warm area while resting (90-105 degrees) it’s best but if not tent it lightly with foil.
  16. To Carve the Bird... Make a cut along the middle of the breast bone, let your knife slice just the side of the bone releasing the breast from the carcass. remove the entire breast and slice on the bias, plating on the platter. Repeat on the other side. Remove the legs using the tip of your knife to release it from the joint. Remove the wings and any under meat if you like or save those parts for left overs.
  1. Crazy Good Gravy...
  2. Pour the drippings from your roasting pan into a sauce pot, set aside.
  3. Set the roasting pan directly over medium high heat on your stove.
  4. Add the white wine to the pan, careful it will sizzle and pop. Scrape the pan with a wooden spoon while the wine is sizzling, this will deglaze the pan releasing all the little bits into the liquid.
  5. Add the shallots and thyme, keep scrapping and stirring for 5-6 minutes...
  6. Place the sauce pot on a medium-high heat burner. Once hot add the flour and stir until well combined and the flour is smooth.
  7. Continue to stir briskly while slowly adding the wine and shallots mixture. Add in 1/2 cup increments the potato water to achieve the desired consistency. Keep in mind you may need to adjust the temperature to keep the gravy gently bubbling.
  8. Let the gravy simmer for about 10 minutes before tasting and seasoning with salt and pepper.
  9. The gravy will thicken when cooled at the table but adjust thickness with flour or water for thicker or thinner gravy.
  10. Serve alongside of your perfectly roasted turkey and don’t blame me (or Chef Sullivan) if your guests are not much for conversation, they will be too busy enjoying your turkey!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • drbabs
  • how to eat n'drink
    how to eat n'drink
  • Bevi

4 Reviews

drbabs November 2, 2011
Hi Megan. What a great recipe. i've never brined a turkey because we had to use kosher turkeys while my mother-in-law was alive, but alas, no more. I bet this is yummy--thanks so much for sharing. And it was so great to meet you Sunday!
how T. November 2, 2011
Thanks! The first time I made this I was blown away at how moist and flavorful the turkey was...Happy to share the love!
Bevi November 2, 2011
Thanks for this! We have to Weberize our Birds. What adjustments would you make?
how T. November 2, 2011
Brine and wrap the bird and place on the grill with the coals spread out like normal for the first 30 minutes. If you want a smoky flavor poke a few holes in the upper third of the foil/parchment wrapping. When the recipe calls for 200 degree heat, pile the coals/wood chips to one side of the grill and return the bird to the grill placing it on the opposite side of the coals... Keep tabs on the temperature of your grill with a thermometer and keep an alarmed internal thermometer tucked into the thigh meat of the bird. It's double protection incase your grill gets to hot.