Herb Roasted Turkey + Gravy

This post probably doesn't do much for you now, since Thanksgiving is over.  And no one ever makes turkey any other day of the year (but why???).  However in the case that you want to practice for next year, here's the recipe!

This is my first turkey, so I will not pretend to be a pro.  I did a lot of research though, combining what I liked in each recipe into my perfect version.  I thought it was flavorful and moist, so I’ll make it like this again!

I did take it out too early the first time, but after putting it back in the oven for 25 minutes it was perfect. The 15lb bird cooked for about 3.5 hours total.

The first thing I did upon receiving my turkey was to remove the giblets, and identify them. Not easy. Had to look it up and have the help of 3 people. The neck may have ruined Thanksgiving for my sister.  I then chopped up the gizzard and heart, covered with 2 cups of water and a scant tablespoon of salt, and boiled for about an hour (covered), to create stock for the stuffing.  You can skip this step or set aside/refrigerate the stock until you make the stuffing.
Next, I rinsed the turkey inside and out, then patted it extremely dry.  I rubbed the whole bird with ¼ cup of salt. Yep, 4 tablespoons. It seems like a lot, but what you are doing here is essentially bloating the turkey with sodium so that it retains its moisture as it cooks.  I know this works, because it happens to my face the morning after eating dim sum.

Next, put the turkey back in the bag and refrigerate for 24-48 hours. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. I stuffed the bird with one onion (quartered), one carrot (halved), a few springs of fresh thyme, and one lemon (halved). I then trussed the turkey to bring the legs and arms all close to the body (for even cooking). Once on the rack inside the roasting pan, I brushed it with a mixture of 1 stick melted butter, a few tablespoons of fresh thyme, and the juice and zest of one lemon.  I then topped with some fresh ground pepper.

After the original 20 minutes of roasting at 400, I poured in enough chicken broth to cover the bottom of the pan. This helps steam the turkey a bit for even roasting (and makes for deeeeelicious gravy).

Place the turkey in the oven.  For my 15 lb bird these times worked out well:

400 for the first 20 minutes (helps get that good brown skin)

-        Add broth

325 for the next two hours

225 until done – mine took another hour, or 3 hrs 20-30 minutes total (breast should read 160, thigh 165)

Let sit for at least 30 minutes before carving (covered tightly in foil).

To make gravy, place the roasting pan over medium heat. Ladle off some of the excess fat, then remove all but about ¼ cup of the drippings. Pour the drippings into a saucepan. Mix about 3 tablespoons of corn starch with water and whisk into the drippings, allowing the mixture to simmer and thicken (add less corn starch if you like thinner gravy). Add about 3-4 cups chicken stock, and let simmer and reduce for quite awhile (10-20 minutes?)…until nice and rich and thick. Add pepper to taste, and a dash of Worcestershire. Yep Worcestershire. I put that $#%@ on everything.