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Herb-Roasted Turkey with Gravy
© John Kernick

Herb-Roasted Turkey with Gravy

  • ACTIVE: 1 HR
  • TOTAL TIME: 4 HRS 30 MIN Plus overnight brining
  • SERVINGS: 12 servings

"I wasn't always a briner," says Shawn McClain, "but when enough people tell you it's the thing to do, you try it." He's glad he did: The brine here, which is a simple combination of salt, sugar, spices and water, keeps the turkey moist in the oven and seasons the meat perfectly.

  1. 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  2. 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  3. 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  4. 6 bay leaves
  5. 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
  6. 1 cup sugar
  7. 8 quarts cold water
  8. One 18-pound turkey
  9. 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  10. 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  11. 1 tablespoon chopped sage leaves
  12. 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
  13. Freshly ground pepper
  14. 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  15. 3 quarts chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  16. 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  17. 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  18. 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  19. 1 cup diced peasant bread
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the fennel, mustard and coriander seeds with the bay leaves, salt, sugar and 1 quart of the water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Transfer the mixture to a very large bowl or pot and add the remaining 7 quarts of cold water. Add the turkey, breast side down. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450°. Drain and rinse the turkey and pat dry; discard the brine. Starting at the neck end of the bird, slip your hand between the skin and meat to loosen the turkey skin.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the 2 sticks of butter with the parsley, sage and thyme and season with pepper. Spoon 1/4 cup of the herb butter into a small bowl and stir in the flour; cover and chill. Spread the remaining herb butter all over and under the skin of the turkey and set it on a rack in a roasting pan. Add 2 cups of the stock to the pan and roast for 30 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325° and roast the turkey for about 2 1/2 hours longer, basting occasionally; the turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 170°. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bread and cook for 1 minute. Add 2 quarts of the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the liquid is reduced to 3 cups, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Whisk to break up the bread. Strain the stock through a fine sieve and return it to the saucepan. Whisk in the chilled reserved herb butter and bring the gravy to a boil. Cook, whisking, until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Pour off the fat from the roasting pan and place the pan over high heat. Add the remaining 2 cups of chicken stock and cook, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the pan, until boiling. Strain the pan drippings into the gravy and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Carve the turkey and serve on a platter, passing the gravy at the table.
Serve With Glazed carrots.

Suggested Pairing

Pinot Noir's balance of crisp fruit, light spiciness and moderate tannins makes it very versatile—ideal with all the big flavors in this Thanksgiving menu from Shawn McClain.

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