Thanksgiving Turkey & Gravy

Yes, everyone likes the picture of their golden brown turkey being presented to a large group of hungry family and friends, but is all of the work worth it? I say “no” and have the butcher separate the bird into 6 parts: the breast, backbone, legs and wings. The backbone is roasted with chicken stock to create the gravy before anyone even knocks on the door. I roast the other parts on a half baking sheet over rosemary and thyme. I just salt and pepper the bird and cook for roughly 90 minutes, the same approach I take to a roast chicken.

I always try to get the biggest turkey possible, as the extra meat fuels the entire weekend from turkey pot pie to sandwiches. So lets get at it…

Ingredients for the Turkey

  • 20-24 pound brined fresh turkey, have the butcher cut into 6 parts: backbone & neck (to be used to make the gravy, see below,) breast, 2 wings and 2 legs/thighs (you do not have to go this big, but we love the leftovers to carry through the weekend)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh rosemary, removed from stem and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh thyme, removed from stem and finely chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • This is how to prepare a crispy skin after the turkey has cooked and is resting

Making the Turkey

  • 2 days before cooking the turkey, spread the pieces out on a large baking sheet. Salt and pepper each side and sprinkle gobs of rosemary and thyme all over, refrigerate.
  • Turn your oven to 425 degrees and in a large Dutch oven, add two tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, sear the turkey breast on the skin side for 4-5 minutes in a large skillet, then, with breast side still down, put the skillet in the oven for 30 minutes (with just the breasts).
  • Layer a baking sheet with rosemary sprigs, covering the entire pan. Take the breasts out of the oven and place breast-up over the rosemary. Set the skillet on high and sear the other pieces excepts for the backbone, which will be used for the gravy.
  • Place all the other pieces with the breasts, skin side up. Brush with melted butter and white wine, lower the oven to 350 and cook 50-75 minutes

Gravy Ingredients

  • The turkey backbone
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon of whole peppercorns
  • 12 sprigs of thyme
  • 8 sprigs rosemary
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Small half of a garlic head, sliced sideways so you open all the cloves
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup of all purpose flour

Making the Gravy

  • Turn the oven onto 350 degrees, then put a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom and when the oil heats up, add the onions, peppercorns, thyme, rosemary and sauté until the onion is translucent.
  • Take the backbone and sear it, skin side down for 5 minutes. Flip for another 5 minutes and turn back over. Add the chicken stock, lemon zest, juice, and wine… bring to a boil, put the lid on the Dutch oven and bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes.
  • Strain the liquids and discard solids, add the broth back to the pot and whisk in the flour and butter. Season to taste and serve.
When you roast your turkey broken down by parts you open the door to the best gravy made with the backbone.

What we will be serving with Thanksgiving dinner…

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