April Moss’ Herb-Butter Roasted Turkey With Pinot Noir Gravy

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(credit: April Moss)

(credit: April Moss)

First Forecast Mornings’ April Moss shares her recipe for a mouth-watering Thanksgiving roasted turkey.

As you can see, this is a very in-depth process, but April Moss assures us — it’s worth it. The preparation has been Moss’ tried and true recipe for 5 years in a row. “With this recipe, anyone can make the most delicious turkey if they are willing to go the extra mile,” said Moss. “I realize not everyone will want to go through this much trouble, but for those that want to wow their guests, this is the best,” she confessed.

Three Herb Butter

yields about 1 1/4 cups

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves

DIRECTIONS: In a 10 inch skillet, melt 1 tbs. of the butter over medium heat until it begins to foam. Add the shallots and cook until soft and fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and boil until its completely evaporated, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the parsley, thyme, and sage and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes more. Transfer to a medium bowl and refrigerate. When well chilled, put the remaining butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the herb mixture and beat on medium speed until blended, about 1 minute. On a large piece of plastic wrap, shape the herb butter into a log. Wrap in the plastic and refrigerate.

The butter can be made up to 1 week ahead and refrigerated or up to 2 months ahead and frozen. If frozen, take the butter out of the freezer and store in the refrigerator a day before you plan to use it.

The Brine

The brine should be prepared 2 days before the Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey should be brined the day before. To brine the turkey you need space for a 5 gallon pot in your refrigerator, or a large cooler filled with plenty of ice to surround the turkey.

  • 2 1/2 gallons water
  • 2 1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 24 bay leaves
  • 24 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/3 c. whole black peppercorns
  • 2 small bunches fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 4 oz.)
  • 1 small bunch fresh sage (about 1 oz.)
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme (about 2/3 oz.)
  • 6 medium sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Zest and juice of 4 large lemons (remove the zest in long strips with a vegetable peeler)

DIRECTIONS: Put all of the brine ingredients in a 5 gallon stockpot with a lid. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool to room temperature, cover the pot, and refrigerate the brine until cold, preferably overnight.

Rinse the turkey and put it in the pot (or cooler surrounded with ice) with the brine. Refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours before roasting the turkey.

The Turkey

serves 12, with leftovers

  • 14 to 16 lb. natural turkey (preferably fresh)
  • 1 recipe 3 herb butter, slightly softened (see below)
  • 2 tbs.kosher salt
  • 2 tbs.black pepper
  • 4 tbs. unsalted butter, melted

DIRECTIONS: Position a rack in the bottom of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine. Rinse the turkey well, pat it dry, and set it in a large flameproof roasting pan. Gently slide your hand between the breast meat and skin to separate the skin so you can apply the herb butter. Slice the herb butter unto 1/4 inch think rounds and distribute them evenly between the skin and breast meat, completely covering the breast. Maneuver a few pieces between the skin and the legs, too. Next, with your hands on the outside of the turkey, massage the butter under the skin to distribute it evenly and break up the round pieces so the turkey won’t look polka-dotted when its done.

Sprinkle 1 tbs. of the salt and 1 tbs. of the pepper in the cavity of the turkey. Tie the legs together. Fold the wings back and tuck the tips under the neck area. Flip the turkey onto its breast, pat the back dry, and brush with some of the melted butter. Sprinkle with some of the remaining salt and pepper. Flip the turkey over, pat dry again, brush all over with the remaining butter, and sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper.

Cover the pan very tightly with foil and put in the oven, legs pointing to the back of the oven, if possible (the legs can handle the higher heat in the back better than the breast can.) Roast undisturbed for 2 hours and then uncover carefully (watch our for escaping steam). Continue to roast, basting every 15 minutes with the drippings that have collected in the pan, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of both thighs reads 170 degrees to 175 degrees and the juices run clear when the thermometer is removed, 45 minutes to 1 hour more for a 15- lb. turkey.

Remove the turkey from the oven. With a wad of paper towels in each hand, move the turkey to a serving platter, cover with foil to keep warm, set aside. Reserve the drippings in the roasting pan. Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes while you make the gravy and heat the side dishes.

The Gravy

  • 5 tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups turkey brother or low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups Pinot Noir
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the flour and quickly whisk it into the butter until its completely incorporated. Cook, whisking constantly, until the roux smells toasty and darkens slightly to a light caramel color, about 2 minutes. Watch carefully, as you don’t want it to get too dark. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Pour the reserved turkey drippings into a clear, heatproof container, preferably a fat separator cup. (Don’t rinse the roasting pan.) Let sit until the fat rises to the top, and then pour out 1 cup of the juices (or remove and discard the fat with a ladle and measure 1 cup of the juices). Combine the juices with the turkey or chicken broth.

Set the roasting pan on top of the stove over two burners on medium heat. Add the Pinot Noir and simmer, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to release any stuck on bits, until the wine has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the roux a little at a time until you have reached your desired thickness. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Strain through a fine sieve and transfer to a serving vessel.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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