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Roast turkey with fresh herbs and pan gravy

(Food Styling/Sheryl Julian And Lisa Falso; Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
November 18, 2009

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Let the turkey sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before roasting. You need a meat thermometer and a pan large enough to hold the bird with room around it. A rack is nice, but not necessary. If you don’t have one, set the bird on a bed of carrots and onions. See the accompanying chart for turkey roasting times. While the turkey roasts, simmer the turkey gizzard and neck in the stock for the gravy (do not use the heart or liver).

TURKEY

1 whole turkey (10 to 25 pounds), giblets removed from vent and neck end
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 onions, quartered
2 lemons, quartered
1 bunch fresh rosemary, chopped
1 bunch fresh thyme, chopped
1 bunch fresh oregano, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, or more if necessary
2 cups water
1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Remove the giblets from the neck and vent ends of the bird. Wipe the bird inside and out with a damp cloth. Sprinkle the inside with salt and pepper and tuck the onions and lemons into the cavity. Chop half the rosemary, thyme, and oregano. With your hand, make a pocket at the neck end between the skin and flesh. Tuck half the herbs into each side. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to each side.

2. Rub the bird all over with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle it all over with the remaining herbs, pressing them into the skin. Set the bird in the roasting pan. Tie the legs to the bird. Add water to the side of the pan.

3. Roast the turkey (see chart below) until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees. Use the juices in the pan to baste the bird every 30 minutes. When the breast meat is brown, cover it loosely with foil. If the turkey reaches the right temperature sooner than you’re expecting, remove the turkey from the oven and set it in a warm place. If it isn’t brown enough, turn the oven up to 400 degrees for the last 20 minutes.

4. Lift the bird from the pan and transfer it to a cutting board. Let it rest for 40 to 60 minutes.

GRAVY

1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup red or white wine, sherry, or port
3 cups turkey or chicken stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup cold water
1. Set a large strainer over a large saucepan. Tip the boiling water into the roasting pan. With a large spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan. Carefully tip the contents into the strainer. Skim the fat from the surface of the liquid.

2. Set the saucepan over high heat. Add the red or white wine, sherry, or port. Bring to a boil. Skim the surface again. Add the turkey or chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Return to a boil. Let the sauce simmer, skimming often, for 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

3. Stir the cornstarch and water until they are smooth. Stir them into the boiling liquid and let the mixture return to a boil. The sauce should thicken enough to lightly coat a spoon. If it seems too thin, mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and thicken the mixture again. Carve the turkey and serve with gravy. Sheryl Julian