Thanksgiving

Herbed Turkey Roasted in Parchment

October  8, 2018
6 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
Author Notes

A dry turkey might just be the most common Thanksgiving complaint in the book—but it doesn’t have to be. When you roast the turkey en papillote, the French technique of cooking in a packet (similar to how many Asian cultures wrap and steam food in large leaves), you let a roasting bag do all the work. Instead of basting, the roasting bag locks in moisture and flavor while the turkey slowly steams to juicy perfection (about 12 minutes per pound). Once the bird is steamed, simply bump up the heat, cut the roasting bag open, and give the bird a final hot blast for 45 minutes to get extra-crispy skin. The whole bird comes together with a silky gravy made from the turkey's own juices, plus roasted giblets and turkey neck, if that's your style. —Hana Asbrink

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is featured in the story, A Foolproof Method for Juicy (Not-Dry!) Roast Turkey, sponsored by If You Care. —The Editors

  • Prep time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook time 3 hours
  • Serves 8 to 10
Ingredients
  • For the turkey:
  • 1 (12 to 14-pound) turkey
  • 1 packet giblets and turkey neck, optional for gravy
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 7 garlic cloves, divided (2 to 4 garlic cloves, crushed and made into a paste with a pinch of salt; plus, 2 to 3 additional cloves, crushed for the cavity)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
  • 3 sprigs rosemary, divided
  • 6 sprigs fresh sage leaves, divided
  • 1 dash kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 dash freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 small onion, peeled and quartered
  • For the gravy:
  • 1/2 ounce stick (2 ounces) butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups turkey juices from roasting bag (will differ, depending on turkey size)
  • 4 to 5 cups low-sodium turkey or chicken stock
  • 1 dash kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 dash freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Roasted giblets and turkey neck, if using
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Make compound butter: Remove leaves from 4 thyme sprigs and 1 rosemary sprig and finely chop. Roll up 3 sage leaves and finely chop. In a small bowl, combine butter, garlic paste, lemon zest, and chopped herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Can be made up to 5 days ahead.
  2. When you’re ready to cook the turkey: Preheat the oven to 325°F, setting a rack in the lower third (larger turkeys should go on the lowest rack).
  3. Prep the turkey: Place the turkey on a large, clean work surface. Remove giblets and neck, and pat dry with paper towels inside and out. Slide hand between skin and breast meat to loosen skin. Rub the compound butter over breast meat, under the skin. Do the same with the leg and thigh meat sections. Shower the turkey inside and out with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Stuff the cavity with the lemon, onion, remaining garlic cloves, and remaining herbs. Truss the legs and pin or tuck in the wings.
  4. Fit a rack (flat, not V-shaped) into a roasting pan. Place the roasting bag (seam side up) on top of the rack. Place turkey in the center of the roasting bag, leaving some room at the bottom of the bag. Fans of gravy with giblets and neck meat can toss the turkey neck and giblets (removed from their pouch) into the bag as well. Close the roasting bag by rolling upward and inwards towards the turkey.
  5. Roast for 2 hours and 15 minutes (for a 12-pound bird), up to 2 hours and 45 minutes for a 14-pound bird. It should take approximately 12 minutes per pound.
  6. Remove turkey from the oven, and raise oven temperature to 425°F. Carefully unfold the bag, being careful of the hot steam. Use scissors to cut down the seam, and then horizontally across the short end. Alternately (and as shown in the photo), you can carefully cut an X into the top of the bag (watch the steam) without unrolling the bag.
  7. Roll down roasting bag so that the turkey skin is exposed on all sides (so we get crispy skin!). Return to the oven and roast, uncovered, until the internal breast temperature reaches 165°F and the skin is a nice golden brown, about 45 minutes more.
  8. Remove just the turkey from the roasting pan, onto a large cutting board, and loosely tent with foil. Allow to rest for 30 to 45 minutes. As the turkey rests, carryover cooking will increase the meat temperature a bit more, about 5° to 15°F. Remove the trussing string and discard aromatic vegetables and herbs inside the cavity, before carving and serving. If using the giblets and neck: Remove from the bag and let them cool for a bit before removing the meat from the bones and chopping the giblets to your liking.
  9. Meanwhile, make the gravy: Carefully tilt the bag to pour the juices (there should be a lot!) into the roaster. Discard the bag and remove the rack. Carefully pour the juices in the pan into a small pot or measuring cup. Place the roasting pan over a stove burner on medium heat. Melt the butter. Once the butter is foaming, whisk in the flour. Once the mixture turns a golden color, slowly add the juices from the turkey bag, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Slowly add stock and keep whisking until gravy thickens, about 5 minutes. If you’re using the giblets and turkey neck meat, you can stir it in now. Simmer and add more stock, to your liking, for another few minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve right away.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Anna Krayn
    Anna Krayn
  • Hana Asbrink
    Hana Asbrink
  • Mike
    Mike
  • Sunandsky
    Sunandsky

7 Reviews

Anna K. November 27, 2020
I used parchment paper which I the. Tied with a cooking string. Worked like magic. I also experimented with herbs and added green onions into the mix. A definite no as they burned. Overall, a success! Beautiful and moist.
 
Mike November 12, 2020
A sure hit! I made this for the first time last Thanksgiving (BC19) with resounding expressions of satisfaction from all dinner guests and family members. The turkey was completed with mouth watering flavor and moisture to spare. I used the accumulated juices to make a magnificently simple pan gravy. I recommend all to try this recipe.
 
Sunandsky December 15, 2019
This was the first time I had ever cooked a turkey, so I was thrilled that my guests raved about it on Thanksgiving. I followed the recipe exactly (except for using garlic, which doesn't agree with me), The turkey ended up being the most tender, moist, tasty one that I have ever tasted! I purchased the parchment roasting bag at Whole Foods, but noticed they are available on Amazon. After roasting the 14 pound turkey in the bag at 325 degrees for the recommended 2 3/4 hours, I sliced open the bag and upped the temp to 425 as recommended. Then I began taking the temperature of both the body and legs of the turkey, using a digital thermometer. The legs were done before the body of the bird, so I sliced them off. I continued cooking and basting the rest of the turkey until it reached the 180 degree internal temperature. Many thanks to Food52 for making my Thanksgiving a success!
 
Voss1107 November 25, 2019
I have a 15 pound turkey so I needed clarification : do I cook the turkey in the bag for 3 hours , since it’s 15 pounds , at 325 and then open the bag for the last 45 minutes at 425? I have a roasting bag , will that work the same as a parchment bag?
 
RubyDu November 6, 2018
I'm curious about the roasting bag. Do I buy it somewhere? Make it?
 
Author Comment
Hana A. November 6, 2018
Hi RubyDu - you can pick up If You Care parchment roasting bags at Whole Foods or online, looks like Amazon has them here: https://www.amazon.com/CARE-Non-Stick-Parchment-Roasting-Medium/dp/B01M7OWK2K?tag=food52-20 - pls lmk how your turkey turns out if you decide to give this a go!
 
RubyDu November 30, 2018
I made two turkeys on Thanksgiving using this recipe, and they were fabulous! It's going to be my go-to recipe from now on. I could not get parchment bags, however, and had to use roasting bags instead. (On Amazon they had jumped in price to over $30 the week before Thanksgiving.) I was amazed at how brown the turkeys got even before I opened the bags. The meat was delicious, and it was the most juicy white meat I've ever had!