Order your turkey far enough in advance to make sure you get a fresh, rather than frozen, bird. Buy it from someone whom you trust, as lying about whether a bird has ever been frozen is common. It makes sense to buy a bird that's larger than you need so you'll have plenty left over for sandwiches, creamed turkey, soup, and the like. Take the bird out of the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours before it is scheduled to go in the oven. A room-temperature turkey will roast more quickly and evenly.
Reprinted with permission from Meat by James Peterson, copyright © 2010. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
- One 20-pound turkey with giblets, at room temperature
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Butter, enough to cover the entire turkey
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- 3 Cups chicken broth, or as needed
Season the turkey on the outside with salt and pepper, and place it, breast side up, in a heavy roasting pan just large enough to accommodate it. Arrange the liver, neck, and gizzard around the turkey. (The giblets are often in a little package hidden in the neck end of the bird.) Fold a sheet of aluminum foil to create a triple thickness, making it just large enough to cover the breast. Rub butter evenly on one side of the folded foil, then place it, buttered side down, over the breast.
Slide the bird into the oven and turn on the oven to 350 degrees (there is no need to preheat). Roast for about 1 hour. Remove the foil and continue to roast the turkey for about 1 ½ hours longer, or until a thermometer inserted into the space between the thigh and the breast without touching bone reads 140 degrees. Transfer the turkey to a platter, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest in a warm spot for at least 20 minutes before carving.
To make the gravy, remove the liver, gizzard, and neck from the roasting pan. Remove the meat from the neck and discard the bones. Place the neck meat, gizzard, and liver in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Do not process to a paste. Set the giblets aside.
Check the juices in the roasting pan. If you have a lot of juices, transfer them to a glass pitcher, skim off the fat with a ladle, and return 3 tablespoons of the fat to the pan. If you have very few juices, place the pan on the stove top, boil down the juices until they caramelize on the bottom of the pan and separate from the fat, and pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the fat. Add the flour to the fat in the pan over medium heat and stir together for 1 minute to cook the flour and form a roux. If you have degreased juices, add broth to the measuring pitcher to total 3 cups. Gradually stir in the broth or broth-juices mixture and continue to stir over medium to medium-high heat until the roux and the caramelized juices dissolve into the gravy and the gravy is smooth and has thickened to a nice consistency. Add the ground giblets, stir well, and season with salt and pepper. Pour the gravy into a warmed sauceboat.
Carve the bird and serve with the gravy.