This recipe produces a fuss-free classic roast turkey and quick, richly flavored gravy. It requires refrigerating the salted turkey at least 24 hours or up to 2 days before cooking (a longer chilling time is preferable). Avoid turkeys that list anything other than “turkey” on their ingredient label. But if you’re using a self-basting turkey (such as a frozen Butterball) or a kosher turkey, omit salt from rub in step 1—and check labels carefully for gluten and other allergens.
Why This Recipe Works
To produce a fuss-free classic roast turkey and quick, richly flavored gravy, the chefs at America’s Test Kitchen rubbed the turkey with a salt-and-sugar blend and refrigerated it for 24 hours. Over time, the salt mixed with the moisture from the meat to form a concentrated brine; this seasoned the turkey and helped keep it juicy. It also dried out the skin. To roast the turkey, they preheated a roasting pan on a baking stone to create an extra-hot oven. Roasting the bird directly in the preheated pan (with no V-rack) helped the dark meat finish cooking at the same time as the white meat. Adding an aluminum foil shield over the breast protected it during the initial roasting; removing the foil and finishing the turkey in a cooler oven ensured a browned exterior and moist meat. The juices reduced in the pan, laying the foundation for a rich gravy.
Recipes and photographs reprinted with permission from How to Roast Everything: A Game-Changing Guide to Building Flavor in Meat, Vegetables and More from the editors at America’s Test Kitchen.Yields 12 servings
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 1 (12- to 14-pound) turkey, neck and giblets removed and reserved for gravy
- 2½ tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 small onion, chopped fine
- 1 carrot, sliced thin
- 5 sprigs fresh parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour blend of choice
- 3¼ cups water
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- Salt and pepper, to taste
1Combine ¼ cup salt and sugar in bowl. Place turkey, breast side up, on counter. Using your fingers or handle of spoon, gently loosen skin covering breast, thighs, and drumsticks. Rub 4 teaspoons salt mixture under skin of each side of breast, 2 teaspoons under skin of each leg, and remaining salt mixture inside cavity. Tie legs together with kitchen twine and tuck wings behind back. Place turkey on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, at least 24 hours or up to 2 days.
2At least 30 minutes before roasting turkey, adjust oven rack to lowest position, set a baking stone on rack, set roasting pan on baking stone, and heat oven to 500°F. Combine 1½ teaspoons oil and baking powder in small bowl. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Rub oil mixture evenly over turkey. Cover turkey breast with double layer of aluminum foil.
3Remove hot pan from oven and drizzle remaining vegetable oil into pan. Place turkey, breast side up, in pan and return pan to oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425°F and roast 45 minutes.
4Remove foil, reduce oven temperature to 325°F and continue to roast until breast registers 160°F and drumsticks/thighs register 175°F, 1 to 1½ hours longer.
5Using a spatula, loosen turkey from pan. Transfer to carving board and let rest 45 minutes. While turkey rests, scrape up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl. Transfer drippings to fat separator and let rest 10 minutes. Reserve 3 tablespoons fat and defatted liquid (you should have 1 cup of liquid; add water as needed to equal 1 cup). Discard remaining fat.
6Heat reserved fat in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add reserved neck and giblets and cook until well browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer neck and giblets to large plate. Reduce heat to medium; add onion, carrot, parsley sprigs and bay leaves. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until flour is well coated with fat, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in reserved defatted liquid and cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Whisk in water and wine, return neck and giblets to saucepan and bring to simmer. Simmer 10 minutes. Then season with salt and pepper to taste. Discard neck. Strain gravy through a fine-mesh strainer, discard solids and transfer to a serving bowl. Carve turkey and serve, passing gravy separately.