Perfect Roast Turkey

Perfect Roast Turkey

PAIRED WITH: Lange Estate Reserve Pinot Noir

The time-honored centerpiece of Thanksgiving gatherings, the turkey can be the most challenging aspect of the meal to prepare. We wanted to present a simple, foolproof method to cook your bird that focuses on technique rather than combining lots of ingredients. For this recipe, we recommend choosing a smaller turkey, preferably one that is under 14 pounds—the smaller the bird, the more evenly it will cook. We also stepped away from conventional brining, which involves placing the turkey in a salt-infused bath for a good 24 hours—finding space in the refrigerator for a large stock pot can test the patience of just about any home cook. 

Two to three days before you plan to roast your turkey, pre-salt it. The salt will slowly dissolve into the meat, ensuring that your bird will be crispy on the outside and mouthwateringly tender on the inside. The day before the holiday, unwrap the turkey completely to allow the skin to dry out in the refrigerator, this will guarantee perfectly browned crispy skin. As a side note, we also use this technique with high-end steaks to mimic dry aging. The final result is similar, the steak will form a better crust and will be more succulent and tender on the inside … but that’s a recipe for another day. 

Back to the bird...

In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, thyme, and orange zest. Remove the turkey from its packaging, rinse and pat it dry. Place the bird in a shallow dish, then remove the giblets and neck from the cavity, you can reserve these for the gravy if that’s your preference. Use half the salt mixture to season the cavity of the turkey. Then sprinkle the rest over the top of the bird, taking care to rub it into the skin, making sure that the legs, wings, and breasts are evenly coated. Cover the turkey with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator. 

The day before the holiday, remove the plastic wrap from the turkey, and place it back into the refrigerator. 

 When you’re ready to roast your bird, remove the turkey from the fridge and let it warm up to room temperature, for around 1-2 hours. 

Preheat the oven to 450°. 

Use a paper towel to brush off the orange zest, thyme leaves, and remaining salt crystals. Place the bird ion top of a roasting rack that’s nested in the roasting pan and arrange it breast-side up. (At this stage, if you are tempted to stuff the turkey, don’t do it! Stuffing prolongs the roasting process and can prevent the bird from cooking evenly.) Tuck the wings under, if you like, then use kitchen twine to truss the legs. Pour half the broth into the pan. 

Slide the turkey into the hot oven, then lower the temperature to 350°. 

After that, the process is fairly conventional, with periodic basting every 20 minutes during the last hour of roasting, or until the internal temperature reaches 165° and the juices run clear when a knife is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. Remove the bird from the oven, using the rack to lift it to a shallow tray. Tent it with aluminum foil and allow it to rest. While the turkey is resting, whisk together a show-stopping gravy. 

Pour the liquid from the pan into a large measuring cup. Place the roasting pan over a burner that is set to medium-high. Add the white wine to the pan to deglaze it. Use a spatula to loosen the delicious brown bits. Pour the reserved liquid back into the pan and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat and set the roasting pan aside. 

Once the gravy has cooled a bit, use a spoon to skim off any excess fat, then pour the liquid into a saucepan. Whisk in the flour, stirring continuously as you slowly bring the heat up to a boil. Continue whisking until the gravy is smooth and has thickened, around 5 or 6 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a gravy boat. 

Transfer the turkey to a platter and garnish it with sprigs of sage, rosemary, and orange slices, then put your feet up and relax with your guests; you’ve earned it! Serve with a bottle of our Estate Pinot Noir, a wine that will complement not only the meat, but all of your side dishes as well.