Roast Turkey

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and in continuing the theme from my last post (green bean casserole) I mentioned that I would be talking about a few dishes that would be making an appearance on our table this year.

One very important part of our table is the main dish which consists of a lovely browned and golden bird. Almost as important as cooking a great bird is tending to and getting the most out of the prized drippings that are left.

Because I was already going to be spending a good amount of time in the kitchen I decided to save myself a few extra dishes and I chopped up a few potatoes and some onions and arranged them around the roasting pan towards the last hour and a half of cooking so they could get nice and tender and absorb some great flavor.

I saw a great turkey and gravy recipe on I was intrigued with cooking the bird breast side down. Both Matthew and I really enjoyed the end results; as the turkey was very moist and the gravy was utterly delicious.


  • 1 Turkey Approximately 10 lbs
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 of a small yellow onion
  • 2 ribs of celery
  • 1 medium carrot
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
  •  unsalted butter, melted

When handling raw turkey use a good amount of caution. Use a separate cutting board and utensils to avoid contaminating other foods. Wash your hands with soap before touching anything else in the kitchen. Use paper towels to clean up.

To begin, I added to a medium bowl, 1/2 of a small yellow onion peeled and chopped into quarters, 1 medium carrot peeled and chopped, and 2 ribs of celery chopped. I set this aside for later.

I removed my thawed turkey from the refrigerator and brought it to room temperature with its plastic wrapping still on. I made sure to keep the turkey in a pan both in and out of the refrigerator in case of any leaks.

I positioned the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheated the oven to 400 degrees.

Then I removed the plastic packaging, the neck, and the bag of giblets. I double checked the body and neck cavity to make sure I didn’t forget anything. I rinsed the turkey both inside and out under cool water and patted it dry with paper towels.

I coated the inside of the cavity with the juice from 1/2 of a lemon. Then I took a small amount of salt and rubbed it all over the inside of the turkey.

For flavor I placed the chopped vegetables inside the cavity of the turkey. I placed a small crumpled round of aluminum foil to cap off the body cavity and keep the chopped vegetables from easily falling out.

I decided to truss the bird to keep the limbs from flopping around. I used a cotton cooking twine to tie the legs together and held close to the body. Then I tied the string around the body of the turkey to hold the wings in close. I folded the neck flap under the bottom of the bird and secured it when I had tied up the wings.

Then I rubbed melted butter all over the outside of the turkey. I sprinkled the turkey with some salt and pepper. Then I placed the turkey breast side down into a large roasting pan with a rack. I made sure the roasting pan was big enough to catch all the drippings.

I placed several sprigs of rosemary and thyme around the legs on the bird. Then I placed the turkey into the oven for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Check the cooking directions listed on your turkey packaging.

After 30 minutes was up I removed the turkey and carefully basted it. I placed the turkey back in the oven and reduced the heat to 350 degrees. After every 45 minutes I would carefully take the turkey out of the oven and quickly baste it. By basting the turkey it did add on some extra time to the cooking.

While the turkey was cooking I prepared the vegetables.

Roasted Vegetables:
  • 2 small yellow onions
  • 6 medium baking potatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

I peeled and chopped 6 potatoes and I peeled and chopped the 2 onions. Feel free to add more or less vegetables, this would do well for 4. Then I tossed the chopped vegetables in a little bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper. I carefully removed the turkey from the oven (which had been in the oven for 2 hours already) and placed the vegetables loosely around the bird. I then returned the turkey to the oven to continue cooking.

After a total of  3 hours I carefully removed the turkey from the oven and using caution I turned the turkey over, basted it, and returned the turkey to the oven to continue cooking.

I began taking the temperature readings with a meat thermometer. I inserted the thermometer deep into the thickest part of the turkey breast and thigh. I wanted a resulting temperature of 175°F For dark meat (legs and thighs) and at least 165°F for white meat (breast). I avoided hitting bone while taking the temperature as it will result in a inaccurate reading.

I removed the turkey from the oven once it had reached safe and proper temperatures both in the thigh and the breast meat, and I checked that the juices ran clear. In total it took about 4 hours. I found Butterball has a turkey calculator  that comes in handy when deciding how much turkey you will need, thaw times, and cook times.

Then I gently covered the cooked turkey with a piece of aluminium foil and let it rest for about 15 minutes before I carved it.

While the turkey was resting I checked to make sure the potatoes were cooked and fork tender. Then I placed the vegetables on a glass serving dish.Then I started on the gravy.

Gravy Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons of turkey drippings, plus some additional drippings
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 3/4 cups of chicken broth 
  • 1/4 cup of cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
After the turkey had been removed from the roasting pan I scraped all the drippings off the bottom of the pan. I removed the excess fat from the drippings.
I placed 2 tablespoons of drippings in a medium sized sauce pan. Then I added 2 tablespoons of flour and whisked until thickened over medium high heat. I continued to brown the flour for about 1 minute.
Then I slowly whisked in some additional drippings, 1 3/4 of a cup of chicken broth, and 1/4 of a cup of cream. I stirred until the sauce had thickened and was smooth. 
I added a small amount of salt and pepper to taste. 

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