Pouring cognac between the skin and flesh of the turkey breast creates unexpected flavor.
Make Ahead: Start roasting the turkey at least 4 hours before the meal is served.
- 1 12- to 14-pound turkey, giblets removed
- 1/4 cup cognac or brandy
- 8 sage leaves for placing under the skin of the turkey breast, plus several bunches for the turkey cavity and more sage leaves for garnish
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Have ready a shallow roasting pan with a rack inside.
Positioning the turkey breast side up, loosen the skin over the breast from both the body cavity and neck ends by slipping your fingers between the skin and the flesh. Pour cognac under the skin and rub it into the flesh.
Arrange the 8 sage leaves under the skin in an attractive design. Fill the neck and body cavities of the bird with bunches of sage. Pull the loose neck skin over the opening of the cavity, and use skewers or toothpicks to fasten it to the back of the turkey. Tuck the legs under a skin flap, if possible; otherwise, skewer or tie the legs together. Lightly coat the bird with olive oil, then season it all over with salt and pepper to taste.
Place the turkey breast side up on the rack in the pan. Slow-roast for about 3 1/2 hours or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast meat registers 170 degrees. Let rest for at least 30 minutes, then carve and serve, garnished with sage leaves.
From freelance food writer Terri P. Wuerthner.
Tested by The Washington Post.
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