This is a turkey of style and substance; it turns golden brown because it is open-roasted and basted frequently. Its cavity is gently filled with a hearty chestnut-laden stuffing; the stuffing in the bird is basted by natural juices, but it can be baked separately and be just as tempting.
Remove the stuffing immediately and let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.
- 1 15-pound turkey (giblets removed; gizzards reserved), preferably fresh
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Chestnut and Thyme Stuffing (see related recipe)
- 2 onion, cut in half, then cut into thin half-moon slices
- 1 rib celery, cut crosswise into thin slices
- 5 sprigs thyme leaves
- 1 small bay leaf, crumbled
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 4 cups good-quality low-sodium chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Use paper towels to pat dry the cleaned turkey inside and out. Season the inside of the turkey with salt and pepper. Fill the body cavity with enough of the chestnut and thyme stuffing so that it is full without packing it in. Fill the neck cavity with the stuffing. Use kitchen twine to truss the turkey.
Place any remaining stuffing in a greased ovenproof bowl; pour over the remaining 3/4 cup chicken broth reserved from the stuffing recipe. Cover the bowl with a double thickness of aluminum foil that has been lightly greased on the underside. Set aside.
Scatter the onion, celery, thyme and bay leaf on the bottom of a large roasting pan. Season them lightly with salt and pepper. Place a rack in the pan and put the trussed turkey on it.
Rub the entire surface of the turkey, including all crevices, with the softened butter. Season the turkey all over with pepper. Cut off a double length of cheesecloth wide enough to cover the entire surface of the turkey breast; dip the piece of cheesecloth in the melted butter to saturate it thoroughly, then press the buttered cheesecloth on top of the turkey breast, tucking in the sides of the cloth. Place the gizzards in the bottom of the pan.
Combine the remaining melted butter with the chicken broth, for basting.
Place the turkey in its roasting pan on the middle oven rack and roast for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake the turkey for 4 to 4 1/2 hours or until golden, basting it every 25 minutes with the butter-broth blend.
When the turkey has 40 minutes left to roast, place the covered bowl of unbaked stuffing in the oven (along with the turkey). Remove and discard the cheesecloth for the last 30 to 40 minutes of cooking time to finish browning the bird.
The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 170 degrees. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board so it can rest; immediately remove the stuffing from inside the bird and place it in a bowl, covered loosely with foil. Place a sheet of foil loosely over the top of the turkey while you prepare the pan juices.
Remove the gizzards and coarsely chop them. Remove the meat from the neck and chop coarsely; place the chopped bits in a medium saucepan.
Pour the pan juices into a fat separator cup, then add the defatted drippings to the saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until slightly reduced. Strain the contents of the saucepan through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the solids, then return the gravy to the saucepan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the gravy to a warm sauceboat.
Add the warmed stuffing to the just-baked stuffing; carve the turkey and serve at the table with the gravy alongside.
From cookbook author Lisa Yockelson.
Tested by Lisa Yockelson.
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