It’s November! Here in the States we’re gearing up for Thanksgiving Day and for many of us that means our coveted centerpiece will be a plump and juicy turkey.
For the most delicious results, choose a fresh turkey rather than a frozen one, it will make all the difference. Organic, free-range and heritage turkeys are allowed to roam freely and have a natural diet, which gives their meat unbeatable flavor. Our locally raised turkey always comes from the fine folks over at Arctic Foods.
Butter Roasted Turkey with Herbes de Provence + Citrus has been my traditional Thanksgiving Day turkey recipe since I first began hosting the holiday over a decade ago. Aromatics are loosely stuffed into the turkey and seasonal veggies and fresh herbs line the roasting pan – resulting in a tender and succulent turkey with a white wine pan gravy that compares to no other.
Softened butter is mixed with fragrant Herbes de Provence (a blend of dried herbs consisting mostly of sage and rosemary and a just a wee hint of lavender) and is generously rubbed all over the turkey and between the breast meat and skin.
I prefer to remove the rack that comes in the roasting pan and instead line the pan with cut carrots and celery, the turkey neck and giblets (don’t worry, we’ll discard them after, they make great flavor!), more onion and additional fresh herbs. The turkey sits atop of these ingredients while roasting, releasing its robust flavor and creating the base for the white wine pan gravy.
This is not a lemony or orangey flavored turkey at all. The sweet and tangy citrus is balanced by the savory veggies and herbs, and the oils in the citrus add moisture, from the inside out, keeping the turkey tender and juicy.
This recipe, which I’ve adapted and modified from Giada De Laurentiis, calls for a 15 pound turkey, the most average weight purchased. However, we typically roast a 20+ pound turkey, so if you go big like we do have extra citrus and onion on hand to fill the cavity of the turkey.
If you’re curious about approximate roasting times, click here for a helpful guide.
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Butter Roasted Turkey with Herbs de Provence & Citrus
Serves 8 - 10
For the roasted turkey:
1 fresh whole turkey – 10 to 25 pounds (reserving the neck and giblets, discard the liver)
1-2 oranges, cut into wedges (depending on the size of the turkey)
1-2 lemons, cut into wedges (depending on the size of the turkey)
1 head of garlic, loose outer skins removed and tip of garlic head removed & discarded
1 small onion, cut into wedges
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 fresh sage leaf sprigs
1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick), room temperature
1 – 2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence
For the pan:
2 large carrots, cut in half lengthwise
2 celery sticks, cut in half lengthwise
1 small onion, peeled and cut into wedges
Turkey neck and giblets
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
4 springs of fresh sage
4 cups organic low-sodium chicken broth (approximate)
For the turkey gravy:
1 cup dry white wine, divided
4 tablespoons butter
4-6 tablespoons of cornstarch (dissolve in the minimum amount of broth needed to make a thin paste – about 1/2 cup)
2-3 cups organic low-sodium chicken broth (approximate, as needed)
Kosher salt and pepper
To roast the turkey: Preheat the oven to 400 F. and position the rack to the lowest third part of the oven;
For the roasted turkey (instructions 1-6 can be done one day ahead, recommended):
- Mix the Herbes de Provence into the softened 1/2 cup of butter and set aside;
- Rinse the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels;
- Line a roasting pan with all of the pan ingredients except for the chicken broth;
- Place turkey on top of pan ingredients. Add the orange, lemon, head of garlic and onion wedges inside of the cavity of the turkey, alternating the pieces as you go, and loosely packing the cavity. Lastly, add the 2 sprigs of each fresh herb;
- Secure the legs with twine or tuck them under the fold of skin;
- Generously rub the herbed butter all over turkey and between the breast meat and skin, careful not to rip the skin. (Recipe can be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead. Cover or tent with heavy-duty foil and refrigerate. Allow turkey to sit at room temperature 20 minutes before roasting);
- Add 3 cups of chicken broth and roast for 45 minutes;
- Reduce oven temperature to 325 F. Pour 1 more cup of broth into the roasting pan. Continue to roast the turkey until the internal temperature reaches 165 – 175 degrees F. (use a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the turkey thigh, careful not to touch a bone though); occasionally baste the turkey with the pan juices, though not too frequently as you’ll want to keep the temperature consistent in the oven. For a bigger turkey, rotate the pan halfway through (see notes #1 and #2);
- Transfer the turkey to a platter and tent it with foil. Keep the roasting pan and juices as we’ll make the white wine pan gravy in it, discard the solids from the pan. Allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes before carving (see notes #3 and #4). Prepare the gravy;
For the gravy:
- Strain the pan juices into a fat separator with a sieve-lined lid or into a 4 cup glass measuring cup, skimming off the fat from the top. Discard any solids. Add the extra chicken stock to the measuring cup, if necessary, so that you have a total of 4 cups of liquid;
- Place the empty roasting pan over two burners and add 1/2 cup of white wine. Deglaze the pan by scraping up any browned bits. I like to use a flat wire whisk;
- Melt the butter into the roasting pan and add the cornstarch slurry (see note #5). Slowly add the slurry to the pan while using a wire whisk to blend, about 1 minute;
- Add the remaining wine and continuously whisk, allowing the wine to reduce a bit;
- Slowly add the reserved liquids from the measuring cup into the roasting pan. Alternate stirring and adding liquid so that you have control of the consistency, about 10 minutes;
- Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning (see notes #6 – 8). Serve the turkey with the gravy.
Recipe Notes, Tips & Tricks:
- Cover the breast with foil if it begins to darken too much; plan on 15 minutes of cooking time for every pound of turkey if stuffed;
- Use a meat thermometer! The best way to know your turkey is done is to check the internal temperature of the thigh. The turkey is done at 165 F.;
- Done a bit ahead of time? If the turkey is done early or if you make it a bit ahead of time (like I prefer to do), tent the turkey well, sealing all the edges of the platter and drape 2 heavy bath towels over the tented turkey. This will create a layer of insulation, keeping the turkey hot for a while;
- Always keep food safety in mind. Don’t make the turkey so far ahead of time that you compromise the integrity of your dinner and the well-being of your guests. Click here for a guide to help you. When in doubt always err on the side of caution;
- It’s important to make the slurry with cold liquid, then add the slurry to the simmering sauce. To make a slurry, add 1/2 cup of stock and 4 tablespoons of cornstarch and mix well, I prefer to use a jar with a tight lid and shake well then slowly add to my pan;
- If you experience lumps in your gravy, strain through a sieve and no one will be the wiser. If you need to thin the gravy out, keep extra stock on hand and add a little at a time until desired consistency.
- How to keep the gravy hot! If you unintentionally experience note #3 above, don’t panic! I prefer to make my turkey and gravy a little ahead of time so that I don’t feel rushed, but if you didn’t plan it that way, here’s a tip: Get a heavy-duty insulated thermos and once your gravy is ready (and is piping hot), pour it into the thermos and close the lid tightly. It will stay piping hot for hours! When ready to serve pour it into a gravy boat. You’re a superstar!
- Did you overcook the turkey? Keep some warm broth on hand and ladle a little over the carved turkey to add moisture if you have any mishaps.
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