Roasting a turkey is a Thanksgiving tradition in the U.S., but many families also enjoy this meal on Christmas Day, hence the post at this time.
Our family follows a very special Ukrainian Christmas Eve tradition which includes a 12 course meatless dinner.
Christmas Day, on the other hand, is a feast of many different dishes, including smoked sausage (kobasa), as well as baked ham, but no turkey.
This Thanksgiving I tried Martha Stewart’s recipe for roasting a turkey, recommended by a friend from my church, as her absolute favorite. I was quite impressed with the outcome of this project, as you can see from the picture of the finished product.
Doesn’t this bird look delicious? So glossy and tender, and just awesome (scroll down to the bottom of this post).
So, if you plan to roast a turkey for Christmas, or Thanksgiving, and like to try this recipe, plus watch Martha’s video, by clicking the link above, I will share my step by step experience with this recipe.
Here is the cheesecloth, as well as the basting sauce ingredients (melted butter and dry white wine).
- 1 turkey, 14-18 lbs.
- 1 1/2 cups of unsalted butter, melted
- 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 bottle(750 -ml) of dry white wine of your choice
- 1 package of cheesecloth, I cut mine in half
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
- 2 stalks celery, cut into chunks
- 2 carrots, cut into chunks
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup dry red wine (0r white wine) for the gravy
- 3 Tbs. of fat (reserved from the pan juices)
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour (for gravy)
- Salt and pepper to taste (I also like to sprinkle some Maggi Seasoning)
- Remove turkey from plastic wrapping, and remove the giblets packed inside the turkey, and in the neck cavity. Place the giblets in a medium saucepan filled 3/4 with water, and cook for at least an hour. Save the stock for gravy.
- Rinse the turkey under running cold water, outside and inside. Also rinse out the giblets, and set aside.
- Dry the turkey with paper towels, and let stand uncovered for 2 hours at room temperature (this lets the skin dry out slightly for better results with basting).
- Place oven rack on the lowest level in your oven, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Combine the melted butter with wine. Fold each cheesecloth in half, and let it soak in this mixture.
- Pour 1 cup of water into the roasting pan, place the cut up veggies, and place the roasting rack in the pan.
- Place the turkey, breast side up, on the roasting rack, remove the pop-up timer, if present.
- Fold wingtips under the turkey.
- Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper inside the turkey. If you are stuffing your bird, fill the large cavity and neck cavity loosely with stuffing (I do not stuff my turkey, I cook the stuffing separately).
- Rub the turkey’s breast with 4 Tbs. room temperature butter, and sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper.
- Tie the turkey legs together with kitchen twine, and tie a bow for easier removal after roasting.
- Lift one cheesecloth one at a time from the butter/wine mixture, squeeze it slightly, so it does not drip, make sure you have it folded to form 4 layers of cloth.
- Place it on top of half of the turkey, extending over the right leg and down the side (if you co not cover the thighs they will brown much faster and darker than the rest of the turkey).
- Do the same with the second piece of the cheesecloth, overlapping it slightly over the first one at the top of the turkey breast, covering the left side of the turkey breast, leg, and extending it down the side, as well as the front and back of the bird.
- Place turkey legs first into the oven. Do not cover the pan.
- Cook for 20 minutes, without checking on it.
- Using a pastry brush, baste the cheesecloth and exposed parts of the turkey, with butter/wine mixture. Don’t panic if you notice how dark the cheesecloth gets during cooking. The turkey underneath is still very light. Your kitchen will fill with a sweet aroma of warm butter.
- Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F, and continue baking for 2 1/2 hours, basting every 30 minutes.
- If your pan fills up with too much juice, you may remove some and save for gravy.
- After about 3 hours of cooking, remove and discard the cheesecloth. Notice how light the breast meat is still at this point.
- Turn the pan around, so the legs are facing front, and the breast is facing the back of the oven.
- Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F.
- Baste the turkey gently with the juices, or the remaining butter/wine mixture.
- Bake for 1 hour longer, basting after 30 minutes.
- Insert the instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, not touching the bone, and the temperature should reach 180 (if stuffed – the stuffing should reach 140 -160). The turkey should be golden brown.
- If the legs are not fully cooked yet, baste the turkey, and bake another 20 minutes.
- Once fully cooked, transfer turkey to a warm serving platter, and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.
- Pour the pan juices into a fat separator cup. Let it stand for 10 minutes to settle. The baked veggies in the pan may be used or discarded, but they added delicious flavor to the pan juices for your gravy.
- Set the roasting pan aside, do not wash it.
Finished product, ready for carving and serving.
To make gravy:
- Place roasting pan on a stove over medium-high heat.
- Add 1 cup of dry wine (red or white).
- Add 3 Tbs. of fat which separated from the pan juices.
- Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are loosened up from the pan.
- Mix 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring continuously, so it’s not clumpy.
- Stir in giblet stock (at least 2-3 cups) and bring to boil.
- Cook until liquid has reduced by half (about 10 minutes).
- Add the fat-free part of the reserved pan juices, and cook for 10 minutes longer.
- This will make about 2 1/2 cups of gravy.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, and Maggi seasoning if you like.
- Strain into a warm gravy boat, and serve.
Enjoy your delicious turkey with homemade gravy.
Recipes for my favorite stuffing, and other side dishes, will be posted by next Thanksgiving.