2000s Recipes + Menus

Roast Turkey with Cider Sage Gravy

Serves8 to 10
  • Active Time:1 1/4 hr
  • Start to Finish:4 1/2 hr (includes making stock)
November 2003
Everyone wants the juiciest turkey possible for Thanksgiving, and we find that brined or kosher turkeys are best for this. If you'd like to try brining, stir together 8 quarts water with 2 cups kosher salt in a 5-gallon bucket lined with a large heavy-duty plastic garbage bag, then soak raw turkey, covered and chilled, 10 hours. (Kosher turkeys, which are salted during the koshering process, are just as succulent and flavorful as brined ones.) If you are making this entire menu in a single oven, bake the stuffing and sweet potatoes and reheat the potato parsnip purée while the turkey stands after roasting.

For turkey

  • 1 (3-inch) piece celery
  • 2 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 fresh marjoram sprigs
  • 2 large fresh sage leaves
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 1 (12- to 14-lb) turkey (preferably kosher), any feathers and quills removed with tweezers or needlenose pliers, and neck and giblets (excluding liver) reserved for making turkey stock
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 onion, peeled and stuck with 2 whole cloves
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional if necessary for basting

For gravy

  • 1 cup hard cider or sparkling hard cider
  • About 4 cups turkey stock
  • 1 lb onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage or 3/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Special equipment:

    kitchen string; a metal flat rack (use a cooling rack if necessary) small enough to just fit inside roasting pan; an instant-read thermometer or remote digital thermometer*

Cook turkey:

  • Put oven rack in lowest position and preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Tie celery, parsley, thyme, marjoram, sage, and bay leaf into a bundle with kitchen string to make a bouquet garni.
  • Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry. Rub turkey inside and out with salt and pepper, then put onion and bouquet garni in large cavity. Working from large cavity end, run your fingers between skin and flesh of breast to loosen skin without tearing. Put 1 tablespoon butter under skin of each side of breast and massage skin from outside to spread butter evenly. Tie drumsticks together with kitchen string and fold wings under body. Put turkey on rack in a large flameproof roasting pan and, if using remote thermometer, insert it into thickest part of a thigh (do not touch bone).
  • Brush remaining 2 tablespoons butter over turkey, then roast 30 minutes.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Baste turkey with pan drippings or butter, then continue to roast, basting every 30 minutes, until a thigh registers 165F on thermometer, 2 to 2 1/2 hours more.
  • Carefully tilt turkey so any juices from inside cavity run into roasting pan, then transfer turkey to a serving platter and discard onion and bouquet garni from cavity. Let turkey stand 30 to 40 minutes (thigh temperature will rise to 175°F).

Make gravy while turkey stands:

  • Remove rack from roasting pan and pour pan juices through a sieve into a 1-quart glass measure. Straddle roasting pan across two burners, then add cider and deglaze pan by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until reduced to about 1/2 cup, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour cider through sieve into glass measure with pan juices, then skim fat, reserving 1/4 cup of it. (Reserve 6 tablespoons total if using turkey fat for wild rice stuffing; recipe follows.) Add enough turkey stock to drippings to total 4 cups.
  • Cook chopped onions in butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add sage and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add turkey stock mixture and any turkey juices accumulated on platter and bring to a boil. Stir together flour and reserved 1/4 cup fat in a small bowl, then whisk into gravy. Reduce heat and simmer gravy, uncovered, whisking occasionally, 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve turkey with gravy on the side.
Subscribe to Gourmet