Covering a turkey with a glaze of maple syrup and butter in the final 30 minutes of roasting results in a beautifully burnished, slightly sweet bird. (Don't put the glaze on at the beginning; it may scorch.) It also provides maple-tinged drippings in the pan for your gravy. Be prepared to taste a gravy unlike any you've likely prepared before, slightly sweet and caramelized and made all the more sweet with the addition of Riesling.
In Advance: The stock may be made weeks in advance and frozen. Soften the butter to room temperature. Make the maple syrup glaze 1 hour in advance.
Place the raw turkey breast-side down in the refrigerator so the juices flow to the white meat; the resulting roast turkey breast will be slightly moister than usual. To remove the chill, remove the turkey from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before roasting.
- For the turkey
- 12 to 14 pounds fresh turkey, neck and giblets removed
- 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- Freshly ground pepper
- For the gravy
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
- Defatted juices (from the drippings in the roasting pan)
- 1 cup semi-sweet riesling (or other semi-sweet wine)
- 2 cups Rich Turkey Stock
For the turkey: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position.
Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold running water, drain it and pat it dry with paper towels. Tuck the wing tips under the body. Place on a rack in a roasting pan. Generously season the inside and underside of the turkey with salt and pepper. Using clean hands, loosen the skin over the breast by running your hands just under the skin. Reaching with your fingers as far as possible, carefully loosen the skin over the legs. Using clean, dry hands, rub about 6 tablespoons of the butter mixture under the skin, pushing it with your fingers over the breast and legs. Rub about 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture over the outside of the turkey skin, spreading it evenly so the turkey will brown evenly.
Transfer the turkey to the preheated oven and roast for 30 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 350 degrees, baste the turkey with the pan drippings and loosely cover it with a large piece of aluminum foil. (The turkey should be a golden color.) Continue to roast the turkey, basting once or twice. It will take about 2 to 2 1/2 hours total to roast a 12- to---pound turkey.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, make the maple syrup glaze. Over medium heat, heat the maple syrup with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter until the butter melts and the mixture bubbles. Remove from the heat and set aside.
When the internal temperature is about 125 or 130 degrees, and about 30 minutes before the bird is done, remove the foil. Brush the glaze over the bird. Continue roasting, repeating the glazing several times. Remove the bird from the oven when a meat thermometer inserted in the breast registers 165 degrees. (The internal temperature will continue to rise a few degrees after you remove it from the oven. According to the USDA, the turkey is done when the breast meat reaches 170 degrees.)
Transfer the turkey to a carving board and set aside to rest for at least 20 minutes prior to carving. Reserve the drippings in the roasting pan for the gravy.
For the gravy: In a small bowl, combine the butter with the flour and mix together until a smooth paste forms. Set aside.
Pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a fat separator or glass measuring cup and set aside to allow the fat to rise to the surface while the juices remain at the bottom. Reserve the roasting pan.
Return the juices to the roasting pan. (If using a fat separator, pour the juices into the roasting pan and discard the fat. If using a measuring cup, use a spoon to skim the fat from the surface of the juices, return the juices to the roasting pan and discard the fat.)
Place the roasting pan on top of the stove over medium-high heat (using 2 burners if necessary). Pour the wine into the pan and cook, using a wooden spoon to stir and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom, until reduced by half, about 6 minutes. Add the Rich Turkey Stock and cook until reduced again by half, about 7 minutes.
Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth-lined sieve, and pour into a small saucepan. Whisk in the reserved butter-flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the butter has melted. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let gravy simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes.
Serve the gravy on the side with the carved turkey.
Adapted from a recipe in the November 1998 issue of Martha Stewart Living.
Tested by Jeanne McManus.
Email questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.