Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sage Butter-Roasted Turkey with Cider Gravy

My husband and I bought a new condo with a kitchen built for entertaining and dinner parties in late October/early November 2008, but I felt like we moved in too close to Thanksgiving to host, so we traveled to both sets of families for the holiday. I was exhausted and overly full by the time we got home and told my husband I was never doing that again.

Flash forward to this year; we've been in our condo for over a year, and I have a brand new kitchen table that seats 8, so we decided this would be the year to host. Being the big show-off that I am, I bought Bon Appetite's Thanksgiving issue and began ear-marking various recipes I wanted to serve. Having never made a whole turkey before I wanted something easy to prepare, but impressive to serve. This sage butter turkey was just the right combination of both! I omitted the original dry-rub and brined my turkey instead. However, I've linked to Bon Appetite's recipe in case you're interested in their method.

Now the recipes all say to roast the turkey breast side up, but having never cooked a turkey before, I had no idea which side was the breast. It looked pretty much the same to me! They really should come labeled. So once my turkey was out of the brine, I threw it into the roasting pan, only to have my wise mother tell me I'd cooked the bird upside down! Oh well. This was the juiciest, moistest turkey I'd ever eaten...and I will forever cook turkeys upside down from now on!

The cider gravy was slightly sweet, but was a tasty pairing to the sage turkey. I omitted the apple jack as I didn't want to spend the money on it, and it still turned out fabulous!

This bird was heavy!

Sage Butter-Roasted Turkey with Cider Gravy

Adapted from Bon Appetite


4 gallons water

2 cups of table salt (1/2 cup per gallon of water...see this site for some good tips on brining)

1 handful fresh sage leaves, torn

1 20-pound turkey, rinsed, patted dry; neck, heart, and gizzard removed
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh sage
3/4 cup fresh refrigerated apple cider or fresh refrigerated apple juice
2 cups (or more) Turkey Stock or low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons dried sage
several springs of fresh rosemary or tyme

3/4 cup fresh refrigerated apple cider or fresh refrigerated apple juice
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 to 3 tablespoons Calvados (apple brandy) or applejack brandy (I omitted this)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

Place the turkey in a large brine bag and fill with 4 gallons of water (16 cups = 1 gallon). Stir in the salt and sage. Brine in the refrigerator overnight.

Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 375°F. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse throughouly and pat dry. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together loosely. Set in a roasting pan. (Bon Appetite, and most other recipes really, call for the turkey to be cooked breast side up. I inadvertenly cooked mine breast side down, but loved the results. You do what you want.)

Stir butter and chopped sage in small saucepan over low heat until butter melts. Brush all over turkey; sprinkle liberaly with pepper.

Roast turkey 1 hour; baste with any pan juices. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Pour 3/4 cup apple cider over; turn pan around. Continue to roast turkey until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F, basting and turning pan occasionally for even cooking, about 1 1/4 hours longer. (I cooked my turkey until it reached 185 degrees. Since I cooked it upside down, it was still underdone at 165. The brining process and the juices running into the upside down breast kept the meat incredibly moist.)

Transfer turkey to platter; tent loosely with foil and let rest 30 to 45 minutes. If you cook yours breast side down, as I did, flip it over just before you are ready to carve.

Gravy Directions
Pour all pan juices into large measuring cup. Spoon off fat that rises to surface.

Transfer 2 tablespoons fat to heavy large saucepan; discard remaining fat.

Place turkey roasting pan over 2 burners. Add 2 cups stock or broth and 3/4 cup cider. Bring to boil over high heat, scraping up browned bits. Boil liquid until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 6 minutes. Add mixture from roasting pan to degreased pan juices. If necessary, add enough stock to measure 3 1/2 cups stock mixture.

Place saucepan with turkey fat over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk 2 minutes. Whisk in stock mixture. Boil until gravy thickens enough to coat spoon thinly, about 6 minutes. Whisk in 2 tablespoons Calvados, or more to taste, and sage. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve turkey with gravy.

I swear it's not burnt; the sage got a bit crispy and dark, but the skin and meat were perfect!


Molly Jean said...

Holy bird, batman! That's a big turkey! And it looks DELICIOUS.

Don't feel bad about the 'breast side up' issue... I totally had to google it to find out too ;)

Janet said...

Thanks Molly Jean! It was a 20.5 pound bird...we had 8 people at dinner, but there was still a ton left. :)


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