Serves a Crowd

Barbara & Harry's Excellent Roast Turkey with Gravy

November  2, 2010
Photo by Rocky Luten
Author Notes

My husband, Harry, doesn’t cook. When I met him, he was subsisting on frozen stir-fry dinners. The occasional egg. Jarred spaghetti sauce. Canned soup and vegetables. (His Food52 handle is eateronly. Seriously.) When we married and hosted our first Thanksgiving dinner, he insisted on being in charge of the turkey. I was skeptical. But ours is a second marriage, and the currency of second marriages is generosity and acceptance. What the hell. Make the turkey.

Imagine my surprise when that turkey was delicious. Moist and flavorful. With one of the best gravies I had ever had. Over the years (14 now), we’ve tinkered a little. I bought good paprika. Added the sherry to the gravy. But really, this is his technique, and his recipe.

In this recipe, the turkey is as much a part of the gravy as the rest of the components so I’ve included his technique for seasoning the turkey. He prefers a stuffed turkey—makes a bread stuffing, but you can use whatever stuffing you prefer—and uses oil instead of butter because his family kept kosher, and therefore did not mix dairy and meat. The Yiddish word for the little brown bits that stick to the bottom of the pan is gribenes, and he calls a roux an einbrun. All measurements are approximate and really depend on the size of the turkey.

Last year did not use a kosher turkey so I dry brined it a la the judy bird, and it was fabulous.

Test Kitchen Notes

The method of pan-roasting this hearty onion gravy is what makes it a stunner. As the turkey rests, drbabs brilliantly instructs us to deepen the flavors of the gravy in the roasting pan, along with a welcome dose of sherry. It's the kind of technique we wish we thought of long ago! Feel free to strain the onions out, but we like it served "chunky", the onions adding satisfying texture to the Thanksgiving plate. - Maddy —The Editors

  • Makes enough for thanksgiving turkey and stuffing
  • Turkey
  • 1 kosher turkey, rinsed well and dried (don't brine kosher turkeys)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/2-1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2-1 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 3-4 cups chopped onions
  • water (or chicken broth--my choice)
  • For the gravy
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
In This Recipe
  1. Turkey
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Make a paste of oil and seasonings and rub the outside and cavity of the turkey with the paste. Stuff the turkey with your favorite stuffing. Place the chopped onions in the bottom of the roasting pan, and place the turkey, breast side up, on top of the onions. Roast the turkey uncovered for 15-20 minutes. When the onions have started to brown, add just enough water (chicken broth) to cover the onions in the roasting pan. Roast the turkey, covered loosely with foil, basting periodically.
  1. For the gravy
  2. About ½ hour before turkey is finished roasting, make the einbrun. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add flour, and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture clumps together and turns golden. It will smell nutty. Continue cooking until the mixture has a dark golden color, being careful to stir constantly so that it doesn’t burn. Set aside.
  3. Add einbrun to the onions in the bottom of the roasting pan. Continue roasting the turkey, uncovered, until it is finished roasting (165 degrees in thigh). Remove turkey from roasting pan.
  4. Pour sherry into pan drippings, and stir, scraping up any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Return roasting pan to oven and continue to roast gravy for about 15-20 minutes, until it is reduced and somewhat thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning. You can pour it into a sauce pan and let it reduce on top of the stove while the turkey rests if you prefer. Pour gravy into a pitcher and serve hot.

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