Roast Thanksgiving Turkey Basted with Fruit Juices and Marsala Gravy
How to cook the perfect turkey, stuffing and gravy. I have developed this recipe after years in the kitchen. You will use this recipe over and over again!
Karen’s trusted Turkey recipe. Detailed instructions that are easy to follow. Isn’t it all about the gravy? Aromatic roasted vegetables on the bottom of the pan, with the addition of herbs and marsala wine produce a rich fabulous gravy.
A note from Karen:
Here is my method to cooking the perfect turkey, stuffing and gravy. I have developed this recipe after years in the kitchen. Basting the bird with pomegranate and pineapple juice will produce a finished turkey with a glowing, yet subtle mahogany color. And, the acid in the juice cuts down on the gamey essence of the turkey.
What variety of stuffing to make is almost as personal a choice as to brine – or not to brine ! (See note on brining in recipe). My stuffing recipe is straightforward, veggies, freshly toasted mixed varieties of bread, shiitake mushrooms, apricots and fresh herbs. Don’t replace the tarragon! ~ It really lends a great flavor. Experiment with this base recipe. Add sauteed sausage, apples or dried cranberries for instance to personalize it to your taste.
Now let’s talk gravy. A dark rich, sticky gravy to me makes the whole meal! Follow my instructions for letting the vegetables on the bottom of the pan deeply color and caramelize. Do not rush this step. Since your turkey may be larger than 16 pounds, continue to follow the recipe, with the addition of some extra chicken stock.
I like to start roasting the turkey breast side DOWN. Later, after turning it breast side up, you will not have a soggy bottom of the turkey. Be careful turning it though, I use 2 wooden spoons. A meat thermometer and butcher’s twine will be very helpful.
Best wishes to you at Thanksgiving,
I hope it is a joyous celebration with your most cherished family and friends.
Karen's Roast Thanksgiving Turkey Basted with Fruit Juices and Marsala Gravy
- 14 pounds (12 – 16 pounds) fresh turkey, cleaned & dried (see below)
- one half lemon
- 2 teaspoons neutral oil such as safflower, expeller pressed
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- 2 large carrots cleaned, sliced
- 1 large ribs celery cleaned, sliced
- 1 large onion peeled and sliced
- 6 large garlic cloves peeled
- 3 cups chicken broth/stock preferably homemade
- 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice
- 1/2 bunch fresh sage
- 1/2 bunch fresh tarragon
- 1/2 bunch fresh thyme
- Make Chestnut Stuffing with Shiitake Mushrooms, Apricots and Fresh Herbs. (Can be made the day before.)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rub the turkey inside and out with the lemon, then discard. Fill the body and neck cavity with the stuffing* (see recipe.) Do not fill too tightly, put the extra stuffing in a separate oiled baking pan to heat later. Truss the turkey and tie the legs together firmly. Rub the turkey all over with 2 t. oil, and then the salt and pepper.*If stuffing the turkey - the cooking time is raised by about 30 minutes. You may cook the stuffing in a baking pan to hold - basting with a little broth, and uncovering at the end for a cripsy top.
- Scatter the carrots, celery, onions and garlic on the bottom of a heavy roasting pan. Place the turkey, breast side DOWN on a V – rack. Roast until the vegetables are very golden, DO NOT ADD BROTH TO THE PAN UNTIL THE VEGETABLES HAVE DEVELOPED A RICH COLOR - about 1 hour. Do not burn the vegetables, but you will want a deep colored and flavored gravy – the vegetables must be dark in color.
- Add 3 cups of chicken broth to the bottom of the pan with the fresh herbs (sage, tarragon & thyme.) Carefully turn the turkey over, breast side up and baste with the pomegranate and pineapple juice (a pastry brush is useful.) Roast until the juices run clear. Baste occasionally, alternating with the pan juices and the fruit juices. The fruit juices will give the turkey a beautiful mahogany color.
- Tent with foil in the last hour if the turkey gets too dark. Insert a meat thermometer in the breast, it should read 165 – 170 degrees (the thermometer should not be placed near a bone.) When pierced, the juices will run clear. A 12 lb. turkey should take about 2 3/4 hours to cook, 20 minutes per lb. A 16 pound turkey should take about 3 3/4 hours. Allow a little extra time for a turkey that is well stuffed, about 30 minutes longer.
- Make Karen’s Marsala Turkey Gravy – see recipe. It's amazing, and makes the meal!
- Cooking a larger turkey? For an 20 - 22 pound turkey – add 1/2 more of all ingredients.
Why to Brine a Turkey:
- Soaking a turkey overnight in a solution of salt and water ensures moist results. When you add aromatics to the brine, the resulting roast is also infused with a subtle character all its own. Some say: The greatest advantage of wet brining is that it results in the juiciest possible, while others express – it’s juicy, but the juice is watery. A wet turkey can be slow to brown, so for the best results, remove the turkey from the brine at least 6 hours before you plan to roast and rinse it, if desired, then pat it dry and let it sit in the refrigerator, uncovered in order to dry the surface.
Wet Brining Easy Recipe:
- Brine: Bring 1/2 cup water to boil. Add it to your largest pot which will hold your turkey. Add your flavoring: 1/2 cup salt, 1/4 cup pure cane sugar, a few broken bay leaves, a dozen whole cloves, 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes, 1/2 bunch fresh thyme. Stir all well until the sugar dissolves. Add your cleaned turkey, then cover with cool filtered water. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Pat dry when ready to roast – best if you can remove it from the brine 6 hours ahead to dry. (Many recipes call for LOTS of sugar and salt. My method works well!)
- Let the turkey cool before carving. At least 20 minutes for a medium bird; 40 minutes for a large one.