For readers who may be thinking of cooking turkey at the last minute this Thanksgiving, here’s my recipe for roast turkey, published last week (November 19) in my DIY column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
1 whole (frozen) Butterball turkey, about 5 to 6 kilos
1 cup butter, divided
1 large onion, halved
1-2 carrots, sliced into thick rounds
For the gravy:
1 pack turkey neck and giblets (from the turkey)
6 c water
Drippings from the turkey
¼ c flour
Four days before cooking the turkey: Put the frozen turkey in the refrigerator to allow it to thaw slowly and completely.
About four hours before the turkey is to be served: Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Remove the turkey from the packaging and separate the pack of turkey neck and giblets (reserve this for the gravy). Rinse the turkey well in running water then pat dry with paper towels (make sure to pat dry the inside of the turkey too). Season the turkey, inside and out, with salt (pepper is optional).
Melt 1/3 cup of the butter. Brush the turkey well with the melted butter.
Cut the remaining butter into small cubes. Put some of the cubed butter inside the turkey together with the onion. Insert some cubed butter in between the turkey skin and the flesh (be careful not to tear the skin). Season the turkey again with salt. Tie the turkey legs together (use a kitchen twine).
Arrange the turkey in a roasting pan. If desired, insert a meat thermometer in the thigh of the turkey, making sure that the thermometer doesn’t touch the bone. Cover the turkey with a tent of aluminum foil (Note: The foil should not be touching the top of the turkey).
Put the turkey in the preheated oven. Roast for 30 minutes then turn the temperature down to 350ºF (175ºC). Let the turkey roast in the oven for about two hours, then remove the foil tent. Continue roasting until the turkey is golden brown and the thermometer registers 165ºF to 170ºF ( ºC), about 30 to 45 minutes more (check for doneness after 30 minutes).
When the turkey is fully cooked, let it rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
Note: While the turkey is roasting, wash the turkey neck and giblets. Put them in a medium saucepan and add the six cups water. Simmer about 45 minutes. Strain the resulting broth and reserve for making the gravy. Chop the giblets into small pieces and remove the meat from the neck. Set aside for the gravy.
To make the gravy:
After the turkey is cooked, remove it from the roasting pan and let it rest. Put the roasting pan over a stove top (across two burners) and stir the drippings in the pan, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits. Slowly pour in the broth from the turkey giblets and stir well. Strain the liquid into a large bowl.
In a large saucepan, pour in about one-fourth cup of the liquid and heat on medium heat. Add the one-fourth cup flour and whisk together until smooth. Gradually add the remaining liquid, stirring constantly to keep the gravy smooth. Add the chopped giblets and the meat from the turkey neck. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let simmer until thick and flavorful, about 15 minutes.
Strain the gravy. Serve the gravy piping hot with the turkey.
- Make sure you use a roasting pan that’s large enough. The pan should also be thick so as not to burn the turkey.
- Do not overcook the turkey so it won’t be dry.
- If you’re serving this to a large crowd, it’s better to roast two small turkeys (about five to six kilos each) than one large turkey. Cooking a large turkey may be difficult for the home cook as it tends to get dry before it becomes fully cooked.