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America's Test Kitchen Turkey and Gravy for a Crowd (Ep 2018)

00000184-78d7-de85-a3f7-faf7166c0000Turkey and Gravy for a Crowd

Serves 18-20

This recipe requires refrigerating the salted turkey breasts for 24 hours. If using self-basting or kosher turkey breasts, do not salt in step 7, but season with salt in step 8. We used Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt; if you use Morton Kosher Salt, reduce the salt in step 7 to 21/2 teaspoons per breast, rubbing 1 teaspoon onto each side and 1/2 teaspoon into the cavity. Covering the turkey with parchment and then foil will prevent the wine in the braising liquid from “pitting” the foil.


Turkey Legs and Gravy

  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 4 celery ribs, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra as needed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 10 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 (1½- to 2-pound) turkey leg quarters, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

Turkey Breasts

  • 2 (5- to 6-pound) bone-in turkey breasts, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided

INSTRUCTIONS 1. FOR THE Turkey Legs and Gravy: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Toss onions, celery, carrots, garlic, melted butter, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, parsley sprigs, and peppercorns together in large roasting pan; spread into even layer. Place pan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and lightly browned and fond forms on bottom of pan, about 15 minutes. Add broth, water, and wine and bring to simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Remove pan from heat.

2. Cut leg quarters at joints into thighs and drumsticks, sprinkle with salt, and season with pepper to taste. Place pieces skin side up in pan (braising liquid should come about three-quarters of way up legs and thighs). Place 12 by 16-inch piece of parchment paper over turkey pieces. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil. Place pan in oven and cook until thighs register 170 degrees, 2½ to 3 hours. Remove pan from oven. Transfer turkey pieces to large, shallow container and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Once cool, cover and refrigerate.

3. Using spatula, scrape up any browned bits from bottom and sides of pan. Strain contents of pan through fine-mesh strainer set over large bowl, pressing on solids with spatula to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids.

4. Transfer liquid to fat separator and let settle for 5 minutes. Reserve ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon fat (if there is not enough fat, add extra melted butter to make up difference) and 8 cups liquid; discard remaining liquid.

5. Heat reserved fat in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until flour is medium golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in reserved liquid and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until gravy is thickened and reduced to 6 cups, 15 to 20 minutes. Off heat, season gravy with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to large container and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Once cool, cover and refrigerate.

DAY BEFORE: Butcher and Salt Breasts (TIME: 30 MINUTES, PLUS 24 HOURS SALTING)

6. For the Turkey Breasts: Place breasts on cutting board skin side down. Using kitchen shears, cut through ribs, following vertical lines of fat where breasts meet backs, from tapered ends of breasts to wing joints. Using your hands, bend backs away from breasts to pop shoulder joints out of sockets. Using paring knife, cut through joints between bones to separate backs from breasts.

7. Flip breasts skin side up. Using your fingers, carefully loosen and separate skin from each side of 1 breast. Peel back skin, leaving it attached at top and center of each breast. Rub 1 teaspoon salt onto each side of breast, then place skin back over meat. Rub 1 teaspoon salt onto underside of breast cavity. Repeat with remaining breast. Place breasts on rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 hours.

SERVING DAY: Roast Breasts, Reheat Dark Meat and Gravy, and Carve (TIME: 2 3/4 HOURS)

8. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Measure out 20-inch piece of foil and roll into loose ball. Unroll foil, place on second rimmed baking sheet, and top with wire rack (crinkled foil will insulate bottom of sheet to keep it from smoking during roasting). Place breasts, skin side up, on prepared wire rack; brush with 4 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle each whole breast with 1 teaspoon remaining salt. Roast until thickest part of breast registers 130 degrees, about 1½ hours.

9. Remove breasts from oven and increase oven temperature to 500 degrees. When oven reaches temperature, return breasts to oven and roast until skin is deeply browned and thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer to carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Pour any juices from sheet into bowl and set aside.

10. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position. Place thighs and drumsticks skin side up on now-empty wire rack set in sheet and brush with remaining 3 tablespoons melted butter. Place in oven and reheat until skin is well browned and thighs register 110 degrees, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer thighs and drumsticks to large platter.

11. While thighs reheat, bring gravy to simmer in large saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally. Add any reserved juices from breasts and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm.

12. Carve breasts and transfer to platter with thighs and drumsticks. Serve, passing gravy separately.