Cooking the perfect Thanksgiving turkey need not give you nightmares, it’s actually really simple. In an awful tradition, people have tended to overcook turkey making it the dryer, less tasty cousin of the chicken, giving it a bad rep. Follow a few simple steps and this doesn’t have to be the case. You’ll be blessed with a beautiful, juicy bird with golden umami packed skin. Lash with gravy and you’ll have plenty to be thankful for.
3 hours | Serves 6-8
¾ cup of cooking salt
3 tbsp light brown sugar
4kg turkey, neck and giblets removed, patted dry
2 sprigs rosemary
2 garlic cloves, crushed
120gm Saint David Dairy Butter
2 tsp soy sauce
2 large onions, unpeeled, quartered
4 celery stalks, halved crosswise
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
2 cups dry white wine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 sprigs thyme
4 cups of chicken stock
3 tbsp soy sauce
Place salt and brown sugar in a medium bowl and work together with your fingers to incorporate. Place turkey on a flat or V-shape roasting rack set inside a large roasting pan. Pack dry brine all over turkey, inside and out, nudging some into areas where the skin naturally separates from the bird, such as around the neck and top of the breast and between the legs and breast. Chill, uncovered, at least 12 hours and up to 2 days.
Place oven rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 220c. Rinse turkey and pat dry. Rinse roasting pan and rack if needed. In the pan, arrange the turkey neck and giblets, then onions, celery, and garlic and pour in wine. Place turkey, breast side up, on rack over the roasting pan. Roast turkey until the skin is browned all over, 35–45 minutes. Keep an eye on the bird to ensure you don’t burn the skin and wings in this stage.
Meanwhile, cook rosemary, garlic, butter, and soy sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbling and fragrant, about 5 minutes; keep warm.
Reduce oven temperature to 180c and continue to roast turkey, basting with butter mixture every 10–15 minutes and rotating pan every 30 minutes or so if bird is browning unevenly, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breast registers 65c (temperature will continue to climb as the bird rests), this should take 40–70 minutes with a 4kg bird. Transfer turkey to a cutting board and let rest at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour before carving.
Increase oven temperature to 220c. Push vegetables, neck, giblets, into the centre of roasting pan and sprinkle flour over. Roast until flour is very lightly browned in a few spots, 12–15 minutes. Scrape contents of roasting pan into a large saucepan. Add thyme and broth. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by nearly half and gravy is thick enough to coat a spoon, 25–30 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium saucepan; discard solids. Stir in soy sauce; season with more salt if needed. Bring to a gentle simmer over low heat while you carve the turkey. Thin with a bit more stock if needed.