2 ratings

Coffee-Rubbed Roast Turkey With Rum and Pepper Pan Gravy

The coffee will bring out the richness of the turkey

Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune

Use your favorite coffee grounds for this recipe. The coffee rub will give the turkey a rich flavoring and deep color on the outer skin. 

This recipe is by JeanMarie Brownson and was originally published in the Chicago Tribune

Ready in
3 h, 45 m
45 m
(prepare time)
3 h
(cook time)
Calories Per Serving


For the rub:

In a small bowl, thoroughly mix together 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar, ¼ cup (about 1 ounce) sweet paprika, preferably imported Hungarian, ¼ cup (about ½ ounce) instant espresso powder, 1 ½ tablespoons fine salt, 1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and ¼ teaspoon each ground cloves and allspice.


For the turkey

  • 1 medium-size fresh turkey, 12 to 14 pounds
  • 1/2 Cup coffee and sweet paprika rub, see recipe
  • 1 large sweet onion or Maui onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 navel orange, quartered, roughly chopped
  • Several sprigs of fresh sage, parsley and thyme
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large ribs celery, cut into large dice
  • 1/4 Cup expeller-pressed canola oil, safflower or sunflower oil

For the pan gravy

  • 1/4 Cup arrowroot or 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 Cup golden aged rum or dry port
  • 1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Gravy darkener, optional
  • Fresh herb sprigs for garnish


For the turkey

Remove the giblets and neck packets from the cavities of the turkey.

Pat turkey dry and place on a baking sheet.

Coat turkey on all sides with the coffee rub.

Refrigerate turkey, loosely covered, up to 3 days.

For turkey broth, put the giblets (not the liver) and neck into a deep saucepan.

Add cold water to cover by 2 inches, usually 1 ½ quarts.

Simmer, adding water if needed, about 2 hours.

Strain into a bowl (discarding solids).

You should have about 4 cups broth. Refrigerate broth for up to 3 days.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Tuck the turkey wings behind the back.

Put half of the onion and all the orange pieces and herbs in the turkey cavity.

Put the turkey onto a rack set in a large shallow roasting pan, breast side up.

Toss together the remaining onion plus the carrots, celery and 2 tablespoons of the oil.

Place around turkey in the pan.

Drizzle turkey with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.

Roast turkey at 375 for 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Continue roasting the turkey, basting every 30 minutes or so with the pan juices and turning the pan occasionally for even browning, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers about 160 degrees, about 2 ½ hours longer.

Transfer turkey to a cutting board and tent with foil. Let it stand about 15 minutes or so; the temperature will rise another 10 degrees. I think the turkey is deliciously juicy at 165 to 170 degrees — no more.

For the pan gravy

Set the roasting pan with the pan juices and vegetables directly over a stovetop burner.

Heat the pan juices to a boil. Add the rum and boil hard 2 minutes.

Stir in 3 cups turkey broth.

Stir the arrowroot in ½ cup of the remaining broth until it dissolves.

Whisk the dissolved starch into the simmering pan juices until boiling and thickened.

Add more broth if needed to adjust consistency.

Season with pepper and salt to taste.

If desired, stir in a spoonful of gravy darkener for a richer color.

Remove from heat and strain into a serving dish. You should have a generous 4 cups.

Use a spoon to remove the vegetable mixture and herbs from the turkey cavities and discard.

Carve turkey with a very sharp knife.

Serve carved turkey with pan gravy. Garnish with fresh herbs.