Recipe: Roast turkey with gravy

Part of the locavore's Thanksgiving feast was broccoli

Part of the locavore's Thanksgiving feast was broccoli and cauliflower topped with hazelnuts, pictured here with roast turkey and cranberry sauce at Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue. (Nov. 3, 2009) (Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

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The centerpiece of the locavore Thanksgiving feast, prepared with ingredients from local farms, is the turkey and gravy. We used turkey from Will Miloski's Poultry Farm in Calverton.

We prefer to toast the bird unstuffed (it's quicker, and, once the bird is cooked through, you don't have to worry about whether the stuffing is hot enough). But this recipe will work either way.

ROAST TURKEY

Ingredients:

1 (14-pound) turkey, giblets, neck and liver removed
8 cups stuffing (optional) or about 2 cups equal amounts chopped onion, carrot and celery and a few sprigs of thyme
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

1. Position a rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Remove neck and giblets from turkey; cut off (and reserve) yellow tail fat. Pat turkey dry.

2. If stuffing the bird: Loosely fill the neck cavity with some stuffing. Fold over the neck skin and secure to the back skin with a skewer or toothpick. Loosely fill body cavity with some of the remaining stuffing. Cover exposed stuffing with foil.

If not stuffing: Loosely fill neck and body cavities with chopped vegetables.

3. Mash the softened butter with the salt and pepper. If there is a pop-up timer in the breast, remove it. Slipping your fingers between the skin and meat of the breast, gently loosen the skin; do not tear it, or the membrane that separates the two halves of the breast. Work your way toward the neck end of the bird so you can fit an entire hand under the skin of each side of the breast. With your hand, spread on butter.

4. Tuck the ends of the drumsticks under the flap of skin or the plastic or metal "hock lock." (If none exists, tie ends together with kitchen twine.) Place turkey on a roasting rack set in a roasting pan. Add the reserved turkey fat to the pan. Spread remaining butter all over the bird.

5. Make a "breast shield" by taking a piece of foil larger than the turkey's breast and placing it flush on the breast. Fold edges of the foil so the shield exactly conforms to the breast - it should be like a bathing suit that entirely covers the body (including the skin-covered neck cavity) while leaving legs and wings exposed.

6. Place 1/2 cup of water in bottom of pan. Roast, basting after 1 hour and every 45 minutes thereafter (including area under foil), until an instant-read thermometer inserted in meaty part of the thigh (not touching a bone) registers 180 degrees, 3 to 33/4 if the bird is unstuffed, 31/2 to 4 hours if stuffed.

During the last hour of roasting, remove and discard the foil. If the drippings in the bottom of the pan start to scorch, add more water.

7. Transfer turkey to a platter, reserving the pan drippings for gravy. Let the turkey stand, uncovered, for at least 45 minutes (and up to 11/2 hours) before carving. Serve with gravy.

TURKEY GRAVY

Ingredients:

Pan drippings from roast turkey
4 to 5 cups chicken broth or turkey stock (see note)
4 to 6 sprigs of thyme
Butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Turkey giblets, optional (see note)

Directions:

1. After you have removed turkey from roasting pan, pour the pan drippings into a large (8-cup) heat-proof glass bowl or measuring cup.

2. Pour a cup of chicken broth or turkey stock into the roasting pan, add the thyme, and place it over two burners. Turn the heat to medium, and bring liquid to a boil, all the while scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wood spoon or spatula. When the bottom of the pan is clean, turn off the heat.

3. By now, the fat should have risen to the top of the drippings in the large bowl. Skim it off. You will need 1/2 cup fat; add butter if you don't have enough.

4. Add the liquid from the roasting pan to the skimmed drippings, and add enough chicken broth or turkey stock to make 6 cups total.

5. Place the turkey fat and flour in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir with a wood spoon until the flour is slightly browned and the mixture begins to smell toasty.

6. Beat fat-flour mixture with a wire whisk while gradually adding the chicken broth. Simmer over medium heat, whisking often, until the gravy has thickened and no trace of flour taste remains, about 5 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs. Add salt and pepper to taste and, if desired, giblets. Makes 12 servings.

Notes: To make stock, place turkey neck, heart and gizzard in a saucepan with 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped carrot, 1 chopped rib of celery, 2 sprigs of parsley, 1 bay leaf, several peppercorns and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 1 hour, skimming off any foam that forms on the surface. Add the liver during the last 5 minutes. Strain, cool and skim any fat that rises to the surface. Makes about 4 cups. (For giblets, chop the heart, gizzard, liver and some of the meat from the neck.)

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