The holidays are right around the corner and my favorite, Thanksgiving, starts off the season. The aroma of a turkey baking in the oven always makes me feel happy and cozy! It also brings back memories of my childhood when there were four generations of cooks in my mother’s kitchen working together to feed the masses of friends and family.
Now Let’s talk about the main attraction. TURKEY! When it comes to the turkey I always use a fresh HO-KA bird that I’ve purchased for years from a specialty grocery store in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago called County Fair Foods (www.countyfaifoods.net). County Fair is an independent grocery store owned by the Baffles family for over 50 years. It’s my go-to store for everything as quality and customer service are their driving forces.
- 1 14-16 pound fresh turkey (A thawed, frozen bird can be used following all safe handling directions and procedures.) These directions are for an unstuffed bird.
- 1 medium onion cut into 8 wedges
- 2 carrots, cut into 6 pieces
- 2 celery stalks, cut into 6 pieces
- 1 bay leaf
- As desired Kosher salt
- As desired pepper
- 1 lemon halved
- 1 head of garlic
- 6 springs of fresh thyme
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
For The Stock
- Mirepoix of vegetables cut into quarters 3 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, 2 onions
Turkey Pan Gravy
- Pan drippings from the Turkey
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups chicken stock or low sodium chicken stock (optional)
- As desired chopped pieces from the meat of the neck and the giblet (optional)
- 1 Cut vegetables for the mirepoix. Place in the bottom of a large roasting pan.
- 2 Preheat oven to 425˚F.
- 3 NOTE: Roast at 425˚F for 1 hour, then reduce temp to 350˚F for the remainder of roasting time. Total cooking time 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours (unstuffed) to reach 165˚F depending on size and oven operation.
- 4 Remove turkey neck and giblets from the cavity and rinse, place in small stock pot.
- 5 Add 1/2 of the onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf and 8 cups of cold water. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil and simmer for one hour.
- 6 Strain through a fine mesh colander into a bowl. You can pull the meat from the neck and chop the giblets and reserve to add to the gravy.
- 7 Season both cavities of the turkey with salt and pepper. In the neck cavity, place 1/2 of the lemon and 1/2 of the thyme. Stuff the larger cavity with the remaining vegetables, 1/2 garlic head and the remaining thyme.
- 8 Tie the legs together using kitchen twine (I get mine at Williams Sonoma online). Rub the bird with butter all over the skin and lightly salt and pepper. Place the turkey on top of the mirepoix of vegetables in the roasting pan. Add the remaining garlic into the roasting pan. Pour 1 cup of the stock into the roasting pan. Roast for one hour, adding stock or water as needed to keep the roasting pan moist.
- 9 Reduce the oven temperature to 350˚F and bake until the internal temperature reaches 165˚F. Check by inserting a probe into the thickest part of the thigh or breast (not hitting a bone).
- 10 During the roasting process, add additional stock as needed and baste. If the wings and top are getting overly brown I suggest tenting the bird with foil and wrapping the wings.
- 11 Remove the vegetables from inside the turkey, transfer it to a cutting board and let rest for 30 minutes. Strain mirepoix and reserve drippings for gravy.
Turkey Pan Gravy
- 1 Remove the Turkey from the roasting pan and set to rest.
- 2 Discard any vegetables that are still in the roaster. Place the roasting pan across two front burners (with caution). Bring to a low simmer, add the wine, 2.5 cups of stock and bring to a boil.
- 3 Separately, mix the remaining 1/2 cup of stock into the flour in a medium size mixing bowl. Add the stock and flour mixture slowly into the roasting pan whisking constantly. Reduce heat when thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
- 4 Add the meat from the neck and gibbets if you wish. If too thick you can add additional stock. Serve warm. (Always preheat your gravy boat with hot water, before you ladle in the gravy.)