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 Basic Sage-Roasted Turkey

Roasted turkey, photo credit Wikimedia Commons 

There are surely at least hundreds of ways to cook a Thanksgiving/Christmas turkey but this recipe represents the most basic method used in the USA in that the primary herb used is sage and the directions are easy to follow.

It's a simple, very flavorful recipe; if you've never roasted a turkey before, this is a good place to start!

Note that a 12-pound turkey will serve about 8 people, estimating 1 pound per serving (this accounts for bone weight).



INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 12-pound fresh or thawed frozen turkey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
  • Gravy (instructions below)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted, or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh sage sprigs (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Remove neck and giblets from turkey; rinse and reserve to make gravy. Rinse turkey with cold water until water in the cavity runs clear, then pat dry with paper towels.

Note: For hygenic reasons, do not stuff the turkey until you're ready to start roasting it.

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. In large shallow roasting pan, place turkey, breast side up, on wire rack.
Loosely fill neck cavity of turkey with stuffing; skewer skin to back. Tuck wing tips under shoulder joints. Spoon remaining stuffing loosely into body cavity. If you pack it in too tightly it will get soggy.

If cavity opening has a band of skin across it or a plastic strip, push ends of drumsticks under it. Otherwise, tie drumstick ends securely together with string. Brush turkey with butter or oil. Sprinkle with chopped sage and salt. If there is not a little pop-up thing in the turkey's breast to tell you when it's done, insert meat thermometer into center of inside thigh muscle, making sure not to touch bone.

Tear off sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil 2 to 3 inches longer than the turkey, then place tent style over turkey. Pinch foil lightly at legs to anchor.

Roast turkey 3 1/2 to 4 hours, basting occasionally with pan drippings, or until thermometer registers 180 degrees F and drumstick moves easily. Stuffing should register 165 degrees F. Remove sheet of foil after 2 1/2 hours of roasting if turkey is not as brown as desired.

Meanwhile, prepare gravy while turkey is roasting. When turkey is done, transfer to serving platter; cover loosely with foil and keep warm. You should let it rest at least 15 minutes to 1/2 hour to allow juices to soak into the meat so the juices don't run out when you carve it.

While turkey rests, finish making gravy. Garnish turkey and platter with sage leaves, if desired. Carve turkey and serve with gravy and stuffing.

Gravy
Two hours before turkey is done heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil or butter over medium heat in 4-quart saucepan. Add reserved neck and giblets from Step 1 and cook until well browned, stirring occasionally. (If desired, wrap and freeze the liver for another use.) Stir 1 small white or yellow onion, chopped, 1 carrot, sliced, and 1 bay leaf into neck and giblets; add enough water to cover. Heat to boiling over high heat; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 1 hour to make broth.

When turkey has been transferred to platter, skim off all but 3 tablespoons fat from drippings in roasting pan. Strain the broth from the cooked neck, giblets, and vegetables through a large sieve into a large measuring cup or bowl. Discard the particles in the sieve. Measure 4 cups broth. If there is not enough, add water or canned chicken broth. If there is too much, reserve for another use. Set broth aside.

Into the roasting pan with the reserved 3 tablespoons fat, stir 1/3 cup unsifted all-purpose flour until well mixed. Gradually stir in broth and cook over medium-low heat until thickened and bubbly. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Pour some gravy into a small pitcher; replenish as necessary.

Makes 4 cups.

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