Print This Recipe Written by Chacha on Nov 22nd, 2015 in Carrots, Celery, Giblets Gravy, Main Dish, Meat, Onions, Poultry, Thanksgiving, Turkey | No Comments


The biggest myth in all of American cookery is the belief that a juicy, perfectly cooked turkey is difficult for the novice cook to achieve. One of the secrets to a moist, delicious turkey is to by a frozen turkey and brushing it with butter all over. You can season the butter any way you want; the possibilities are endless. I add freshly squeezed lemon juice. A “frozen” turkey is fresher than a so called “fresh” turkey. When buying a turkey, consider one (1) pound of raw turkey per person, or 1 1/2 pounds per person, if you have hearty eaters or want ample leftovers or 3/4 pound of whole turkey per person for no leftovers.

If you purchase a frozen turkey, you must defrost it in the coldest part of the refrigerator, in the back. It can take several days to completely defrost a turkey, depending on the size of your bird. Make sure you read the instructions on the turkey packaging so that you allow yourself enough time before turkey day! Every five (5) pounds of turkey will require 24 hours of thaw time in the refrigerator (i.e., a 15-pound turkey will take three (3) full days).

For the turkey:

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 (15-20 pounds) turkey (preferably frozen)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 large stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1 cup chicken stock (preferably homemade)

For the basting and gravy stock:

  • Giblets from turkey (liver, heart, gizzard, and neck)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 stick celery, cut into thirds
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2 large cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the gravy:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Splash white wine, optional
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 2 hours prior to roasting.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

For the turkey:

Melt ½ stick of butter in a small saucepan. Add the juice of the lemon. Set aside.

Transfer the turkey to the kitchen sink and remove its wrapping. Using your hands, search inside the cavity for the neck, gizzards, heart and livers – remove these from the inside of the turkey and reserve for the basting stock and gravy. Remove any leftover pinfeathers and rinse the turkey well inside and out with cold running water. Pat the outside dry with paper towel. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity.

Scatter the carrots, celery and onions in a large roasting pan and set a roasting rack on top. Place the turkey on the rack. Ladle the chicken stock over the turkey. Stuff the cavity with your favorite stuffing. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter-lemon mixture and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.

Transfer the turkey to the oven. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and roast, basting it with a ladle of the basting stock mixture every 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. An instant read thermometer inserted into the joint of the leg and thigh, without touching a bone should register 165 degrees F when the turkey is cooked through. The total roasting time will be about 2 hours 45 minutes. (Note: If the turkey begins to look too browned, cover the top loosely with aluminum foil until it is done.)

For the basting and gravy stock:

In a medium, heavy pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the giblets, liver, and turkey neck. Cook, stirring until brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion, celery, and garlic. Sauté for an additional 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add water, stirring to incorporate any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add bay leaf and season well with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer while turkey is baking.

Remove the turkey to a cutting board when done and cover with aluminum foil; let rest for 30 minutes before slicing. Reserve the drippings in the roasting pan for the gravy.

While turkey is resting, remove the giblets from the saucepan and allow them to cool. Strain the stock and set aside.

For the gravy:

Chop up the gizzards and liver. Pick the meat from the neck. Discard the bones. Set aside.

Strain the drippings from the roasting pan into a bowl, discarding the solids. Add enough of any basting stock to make 6 cups of liquid. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook until light golden brown. Slowly whisk the drippings into the flour mixture. Bring to a boil, whisking until the mixture begins to thicken and the flour taste has been cooked out, about 10 minutes. Add more stock if needed and a splash of white wine if desired, and cook for 10 minutes longer. Fold in the reserved giblets and adjust seasonings with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If gravy gets too thick, use chicken stock to thin it. Serve immediately.

Slice the turkey and serve.

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