This is one of my favorite recipes for roasting a big, plump turkey. As the name implies, it’s always a winner. The secret to its success is twofold. First, an herb butter is patted under the skin over the breast area, ensuring that this part of the turkey, which cooks the quickest, stays moist. Then, during the roasting process, the turkey is basted frequently with broth and pan juices to keep it from drying out. Shallots are roasted along with the bird, and then incorporated into the delectable pan gravy.
Note: In addition to classic turkey sandwiches, use leftover turkey in quesadillas paired with white Cheddar and sliced apples, or use in place of pastrami for turkey Reubens.
- 3/4 unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 flat-leaf parsley, minced, plus three whole sprigs
- 2 fresh sage, minced, plus three whole sprigs
- 2 fresh thyme, minced, plus three whole sprigs
- 3/4 kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1 fifteen or sixteen pound turkey, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 1/2 shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 3 reduced-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
- 1 dry white wine
- 2 flour
- 1 flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)
- 1 sage, for garnish (optional)
- 1 thyme, for garnish (optional)
Mix together the butter, minced parsley, minced sage, minced thyme, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a medium-sized bowl. (This can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.)
Arrange a rack at the lower position of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Season the cavity of the turkey generously with salt and pepper. Place the parsley, sage, and thyme sprigs and 4 shallot halves in the cavity. Pat the turkey skin dry with paper towels. Starting at the neck end of the turkey, carefully slide your hand between the skin and the breast meat to loosen the skin. Spread 3 tablespoons of the herb butter over the breast meat under the skin. Truss the turkey: Use a long piece of kitchen twine and tie the legs together, slightly overlapping, then bring the twine around the sides of the bird, pulling the wings toward the body, and tie the twine to secure.
Place the turkey on a rack set in a large flameproof roasting pan. Rub 4 tablespoons of the herb butter over the surface of the turkey. Cover the breast area with foil. Scatter the remaining shallots in the pan to roast along with the turkey.
Roast the turkey for 2 hours, basting with ½ cup broth every 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to roast the turkey until golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 180 degrees, basting with pan juices every 20 minutes, for about 1 hour more. Total roasting time will be about 3 hours. Transfer the turkey to a platter. Brush with 1 tablespoon of the herb butter and tent loosely with foil. Let rest for 30 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots from the roasting pan to a plate. Pour the pan juices into a medium-sized bowl; spoon off and discard any fat. Add the wine and the remaining 1 cup chicken broth to the roasting pan. Set the pan over 2 burners on medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Continue to boil until reduced by half, for about 3 minutes. Pour into a large glass measuring cup, and add the degreased pan juices. If necessary, add enough broth to equal 3 cups liquid.
Blend the flour into the remaining herb butter. Pour the broth mixture into a heavy, medium-sized saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil. Gradually whisk in the butter-flour mixture and add any accumulated juices from the turkey platter. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the gravy thickens enough to coat a spoon lightly, 5-6 minutes. Add the shallots to the gravy and simmer for 1 minute, then season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the gravy to a serving bowl.
If desired, garnish the turkey platter with several mixed bouquets of parsley, sage, and thyme. Pass the gravy on the side.