Even though he's lived in Los Angeles for 11 years, Lee Hefter gravitates to people from the East Coast, who, like him, might have seen the fall foliage every year and watched maple syrup being tapped. "When you grow up with these memories," he says, "you want to share them." He thinks adding maple syrup to gravy makes it go better with all the traditional Thanksgiving side dishes.
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One 18-pound turkey
1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
1 medium onion, quartered
20 sage sprigs
20 thyme sprigs
20 parsley sprigs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups Rich Turkey Stock
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons maple syrup
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 350°. Rinse the turkey inside and out and pat dry. Trim the neck skin. Stuff the turkey with the garlic, onion and sage, thyme and parsley sprigs. Season inside and outside with salt and pepper. Transfer the turkey to a large, lightly oiled roasting pan and roast it for about 3 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in a thigh registers 175°. Cover the turkey with foil if the skin begins to look very brown. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the pan juices into a heatproof bowl and skim off the fat. Set the roasting pan over 2 burners on high heat until sizzling. Add 1 cup of the Rich Turkey Stock and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom and side of the pan; add to the pan juices in the bowl.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over moderately high heat for 1 minute. Add the pan juices and remaining 2 cups of turkey stock to the saucepan and cook, whisking, until the gravy is thickened and no floury taste remains, about 5 minutes. Stir in the maple syrup and season with salt and pepper. Strain the gravy into a gravy boat. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy.
Roast the bird for 20 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey and 16 minutes per pound for an unstuffed one. The bird is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a thigh registers between 160° and 180° and the juices run clear. The USDA specifies that cooking poultry to 180° will kill all bacteria that can cause illness. Remove the turkey from the oven when its temperature is 10 degrees lower than desired; the temperature will rise by 5 to 10 degrees as the bird rests.
You'll need plenty of turkey stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth and roasting pan juices to make enough gravy. To get lots of pan juices, roast your turkey at 350° and baste with some stock; if the bird does not seem to brown adequately, you can always raise the oven temperature during the last half hour for faster browning. If your gravy is too thin, simply make a smooth paste with equal parts flour and unsalted butter, a mixture known in French as beurre manié (mon-YAY). Bring the gravy to a boil and whisk in bits of the paste until you get the thickness you desire. If your gravy seems too thick, gradually whisk in more stock.