6 Roasted Turkey Recipes
It goes without saying that when it comes to Thanksgiving, bird is the word. Wine Enthusiast has gathered its favorite recipes for the centerpiece of every Thanksgiving feast—from classic to Spanish-style—to help you plan for the big day.
If your turkey is frozen, be sure to defrost it early, either in the refrigerator or in cold water (not on the kitchen counter at room temperature, where bacteria can grow). To thaw in the refrigerator, allow 24 hours per 5 pounds. If you are using the cold-water method, place the turkey, still in its package, in cold water to cover in a clean sink or deep pan. You might have to weight it down with a pot to keep it submerged. Change the water often to keep it cold. Allow 30 minutes defrosting time per pound. Be sure the bird is thoroughly defrosted before you begin to cook, or the outer meat will be roasted and the frozen interior will stay undercooked. You should be able to wiggle the leg joints of a defrosted bird.
Adelsheim’s Pinot Noir has a delicate texture which belies its rich structure and elegance, a must-pour for the classic preparation of the hallowed bird.
1 whole turkey (figure about 1 pound per person)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 to 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, olive oil or melted butter
Your favorite stuffing (if you like to cook it in the bird, use ½ cup per pound for turkeys under 10 pounds and ¾ cup per pound for turkeys over 10 pounds)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the neck, giblets and any packaging from the neck and body cavities. Place the bird in a roasting pan, breast up, or on a roasting rack. Salt and pepper the inside of both cavities.
If you are stuffing the turkey, stuff both cavities lightly with hot stuffing; cold stuffing can promote bacterial growth. (And don’t even think about stuffing the bird ahead of time—another bacteria breeder. Do it just before you put the bird into the oven.) Fold the neck skin over the stuffed neck cavity and secure with a skewer. Tie the drumsticks together loosely with butcher’s twine or thread. If you wish, you can truss the wings by looping your string around the elbow joints, pulling the ends to the center of the bird and tying them together.
Rub the turkey all over with the oil or butter. Salt and pepper the outside. Wrap the breast loosely in foil and roast for 10 to 12 minutes per pound if the turkey is not stuffed, or 12 to 15 minutes per pound if it is stuffed. After the first 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 350°F and baste. Continue basting every 30 minutes until done. Half an hour before the bird is done, remove the foil to allow the breast to brown.
To test for doneness, insert an instant-read meat thermometer into the thickest part of the inner thigh without touching the bone. It should register 180 to 185°F. The breast meat should register 160 to 165°F and the stuffing should be 160°F. If you do not have a meat thermometer, the juices should run clear and the drumstick should twist easily in its socket. The meat on the drumstick should feel soft.
When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 20 minutes. Remove the twine and skewer, spoon the stuffing onto a serving platter and carve.
Remove all stuffing from any leftover turkey and refrigerate the turkey for up to 4 days or freeze, securely wrapped, for up to two months.
Recipe courtesy chef Michael Chiarello
In the glass, the Ata Rangi 2012 Pinot Noir releases stunning floral notes wrapped in ripe black-cherry scents. The wine’s rose-petal nuances also offers hints of spice and earth, striking a lovely balance with this turkey’s savory, peppery notes.
For the gravy:
2 (8–10 pound) whole turkeys
2 small whole onions, peeled
2 carrots, cut in half
2 celery stalks, cut in half
1 quart chicken stock
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup butter
For the brine:
6 quarts water
2 cups kosher salt
½ cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
8 bay leaves
4 tbsp juniper berries (optional)
1 quart ice
For the turkey:
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
½ cup spice rub (recipe below)
8 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 lemons, halved
4 large carrots, halved lengthwise
8 celery stalks
To make the gravy: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Remove necks and giblets and put into a large saucepan. Add onions, 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat and let simmer until reduced to about 2 cups. Strain and reserve; this is the turkey stock that you will use for the gravy.
To make the brine: Combine all brine ingredients (except for ice) in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, add ice and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Wash turkeys and place in brine, cover, then refrigerate overnight, about 12 hours. Turn turkeys once, halfway through brining.
Remove turkeys from brine and pat dry. Coat both inside and out with olive oil. Season each turkey on the outside generously with the spice rub, pressing it in to adhere.
Arrange 2 of the halved carrots and 4 celery stalks on 2 half-sheet pans or baking sheets. Position each turkey on top of the carrots and celery so that the turkey does not rest directly on the bottom of the pan. Drizzle turkeys with remaining olive oil.
Roast until an instant-read thermometer (inserted deep into the thigh but away from the bone) reads 165°F and juices in the thigh run clear when pierced with a fork, about 2 to 2½ hours; begin checking at 2 hours. Remove from the pans and let rest for 15 minutes before carving. Reserve pan juices for gravy.
While turkeys are resting, make the gravy. In a medium heavy saucepan, cook flour and butter over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until a blond roux is formed. Add pan juices and then reserved turkey stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and let simmer until thickened and ready to serve.
Carve turkey as desired and serve with gravy.
CVNE’s elegant, medium-bodied 2004 Imperial Gran Reserva (92 points), which is 100% Tempranillo, features dry tannins, firm acidity and racy flavors of cherry, red plum and herbs that will play perfectly off the turkey’s hints of paprika and oregano.
1 turkey, 12–14 pounds, thawed, cleaned and patted dry
For the skin:
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons Spanish paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried chopped rosemary
For inside the turkey:
½ tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 leek, trimmed, cleaned and sliced
Preheat an oven to 350˚F.
Place the turkey breast side down on a rack in a large roasting pan.
Using your hands, mix the tomato paste, butter, salt, paprika, cayenne, thyme, oregano and rosemary in a small bowl. Rub a small amount on the underside of the turkey, then turn the turkey over so breast side is up.
Working from the neck end, use your fingers or a small knife to loosen the skin covering the turkey breast. Work about a quarter of the remaining rub under the skin on each side of the breast, being careful not to tear the skin. Using your hands, rub the remaining mixture over the entire turkey and inside the cavity.
Combine the sea salt, paprika, dried thyme and dried oregano, and sprinkle a small amount over the sliced leek. Place the leek slices in the turkey cavity. Sprinkle the remaining salt mixture over the top of the turkey.
Cook at 350˚F for 4–5 hours, until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165˚F. Allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes, carve and serve. Serves 8.
CVNE’s elegant, medium-bodied 2004 Imperial Gran Reserva ($60; 92 points), which is 100% Tempranillo, features dry tannins, firm acidity and racy flavors of cherry, red plum and herbs that will play perfectly off the turkey’s hints of paprika and oregano.
Recipe adapted with permission from Basic to Brilliant, Y’all! 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company (Ten Speed Press, 2011), by Virginia Willis
With its joyous, bubbly red color and ripe fruits, Thorin’s Beaujolais Nouveau is a balanced and lively wine. It’s fresh, although with a light-structured character, full of cherry fruit flavors and fresh acidity at the end. It’ll match both this lovingly cooked bird but also a range of side dishes splayed out on your table.
1 boneless turkey breast, approximately 4–6 pounds
Coarse salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup Madeira
1 onion, preferably Vidalia, sliced
1 sprig thyme to a boil.
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon honey
Season the turkey breast with salt and pepper. Place the breast, skin side up, in a slow cooker. Pour the Madeira over it, and add the onion, thyme, garlic and honey. Seal it with the lid and cook on high heat, turning once, for 3–4 hours.
Place the turkey on a cutting board and cover with foil, allowing it to cool before slicing. Pour the broth formed at the bottom of the slow cooker into a fat separator, or remove the grease with a spoon. Strain the broth into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Adjust the salt and pepper seasoning, if necessary.
Slice the turkey and place pieces on serving plates. Dress with a spoonful of broth. Serves 8–10.
Recipe courtesy Chef Martin Rios
This turkey’s sweet-leaning glaze is a twist on the classic baste. Match its caramel-like flavors with Bailly-Lapierre’s rosé Crémant de Bourgogne, which boasts palate-cleansing flavors of red currants and raspberries. Combining crisp acidity and lively texture, it’s a totally refreshing wine that won’t weigh you don’t mid-feast.
1 12–15 pound turkey
2 fresh sprigs thyme
3 tablespoon roasted garlic purée
3 bay leaves, crushed
1 cup olive oil
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup hoisin sauce
½ cup soy sauce
2 oranges, sliced
3 lemons, sliced
1 cup maple syrup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 325°F. Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towels. In a large bowl combine the rest of the ingredients together. Rub the entire exterior of the turkey with the mixture. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Loosely cover the turkey with foil. Roast the turkey until internal temperature registers 160°F, which should take 2–2½ hours. Once the internal temperature is brought to 160°F remove the foil to let the turkey cook evenly and caramelize for another 20 minutes. Serves 12-14.
This is a classic method for roasting turkey—wild or domestic. Wild ones might take from 5 to 10 minutes longer per pound to cook than domestic varieties. Adapted from Terry Mathison’s recipe, the Cabernet gravy requires a wine that balances against its lingering fruit notes and butteriness. This Bordeaux fits that bill.
1 wild (or domestic) turkey, 10 to 15 pounds
Salt and pepper to taste
3 teaspoons dried thyme
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 carrots, cut into 3-inch lengths
1 onion, quartered
1 or 2 lemons
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups Cabernet Sauvignon (or other dry red wine)
3 tablespoons sweet butter
Preheat oven to 400F. Salt and pepper the body cavity and exterior of the bird. Rub 1 teaspoon of the thyme inside the body cavity as well. Stuff the cavity with the garlic, carrots, onion and 1 or 2 whole lemons, depending on how much room is available. Rub the body with the remaining olive oil and cover the skin with the remaining thyme. Place on a rack in a large roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes.
Reduce heat to 325F and continuing roasting, basting occasionally, until the legs move loosely in their joints, and the bird’s juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a fork. Count on 25 minutes per pound. After the initial 20 minutes, you may set a sheet of aluminum foil loosely over the top of the bird to keep the breast meat from drying out.
Remove the bird from the pan and set aside. Discard the fatty drippings from the pan and place the pan on the stovetop over high heat. Add the wine to the pan and stir to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Cook to reduce the liquid by half. Reduce heat to low and add the butter, stirring until it is melted. Transfer the sauce to a serving dish and use as a garnish for the sliced turkey meat. Serves 6.
Wine recommendations: In general, you can enjoy any number of wines—from zingy Sauvignon Blanc to rich, barrel-fermented Chardonnay, spicy Zinfandel or focused Cabernet—with versatile turkey. With this red wine sauce, however, you should go with Cabernet Sauvignon or another dry red. Rudd’s 1999 Jericho Canyon red blend is a lip-smacking choice—you’ll need one bottle for the sauce, another one to enjoy alongside the turkey.
- 1Classic Roast Turkey paired with Adelsheim 2012 Nicholas Vineyard Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley)
- 2Spice Rubbed Whole Roasted Turkey with Gravy paired with Ata Rangi 2012 Pinot Noir (Martinborough)
- 3Spanish Paprika and Herb Rubbed Turkey paired with CVNE 2004 Imperial Gran Reserva Tempranillo (Rioja)
- 4Slow Cooker Turkey paired with Thorin 2014 Nouveau Beaujolais
- 5Maple and Hoisin Glazed Turkey paired with Bailly-Lapierre 2008 Vive-la-Joie Rosé Brut (Crémant de Bourgogne)
- 6Roast Wild Turkey with Cabernet Gravy paired with Château Clairac 2012 Tradition Red (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux)