Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sage Roasted Turkey and Apple Cider Gravy

When the Quiet Man called his South Dakota grandma to tell her he was going to be married, she had one question about his potential bride. I was listening in, and I was a little nervous. What would it be? Did she want to know if I loved the Quiet man with an eternal, burning passion? If I was a wiry, hard worker? If I had a criminal record for prior felonies? If I wanted children, preferably a dozen hearty boys? Nope. What she wanted to know was this: "Well, does she know how to make gravy?"
"Does she know how to make gravy?" The Quiet Man paused for a moment (he usually does, no matter what the question), and replied, "I think she does, Grandma, but she prefers to make tacos." That satisfied Grandma, who was very worried about the young whippersnapper girls these days who don't know how to cook a good meal for their hard working husbands. She had one quirky question for the Quiet Man, too-but that is a subject for an entirely different post.
Today we are here to talk about gravy, and although it is true that for 11/12 of the year I would rather make tacos, there is nothing that I'd rather make right now than gravy. Lots of it. (Especially if my brother-in-law Mikey is coming, and if I make gravy, then he's definitely coming.)
I have such a fantastic, easy, make ahead recipe from Bon Appetit that I must share. It's luscious, brown and savory with a hint of sage and a touch of apple cider sweetness. And once you see how simple it is to make, you'll be able to stand up to the scrumptious scrutiny of your future grandmother-in-law.
We're going to talk turkey for a minute too, because you really can't make gravy without the turkey's flavorful pan drippings. But this turkey is unbelievably delicious in it's own right.I love this recipe, but it requires a little foresight. Basically, I soak my turkey in a 2 day brine, which makes it juicy and flavorful. But you've got to plan ahead. For a 16 pound frozen turkey, you've got to start thawing the FRIDAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING. The turkey will brine between Monday morning and Wednesday night. But look what you get for your advanced planning?
I'll leave complete instructions below, but let's get to that sumptuous gravy.
For the gravy, two days ahead of Thanksgiving, I make a gravy "base." You simply boil together purchased chicken broth and apple cider for about 20 minutes to intensify the flavor. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, you make a thickening roux by whisking flour into equal parts melted butter. The broth mixture and roux are combined with a little cream and some herb butter (which will also be rubbed onto the turkey), and reduced again at a low simmer. That's it! The only thing left to do is add the drippings from your roasting pan on Thanksgiving. Be vigilant about removing most of the fat from your drippings to make the best possible gravy. But you're done! That's it. There will be no lumps, no last minute panic attacks, no pasty packets of gravy mix. Base + turkey drippings= fantastic gravy...and a happier marriage? Maybe grandma had it right. See for yourself if you don't feel passionately committed to married life after you make gravy for yourself.
Money Saving Tips: Did you get your free turkey from a grocery store? If not, Wal-mart has them ridiculously cheap-less than $10. You should be able to find broth and cider on sale this week very easily. If you can't find fresh sage, use about 1/4 the amount in dried. Use any apples you have on hand for the roasting.
Sage Roasted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy
Estimated Cost: $15.00 for 8 servings and oodles of leftovers
slightly adapted from Bon Appetit
Notes: Thaw turkey in fridge from Fri-Mon before Thanksgiving, brine from Mon-Wed night.
8 quarts cold water
1 cup salt
8 dried bay leaves
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon allspice
1 16- to 17-pound turkey; giblets removed,
Herb butter and gravy
3 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
3 tablespoons minced fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 cups apple cider
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 large Granny Smith apples, quartered, cored
2 large onions, quartered
1 cup apple cider
To brine the turkey:
Line extra-large pot or bowl with two 13-gallon (or larger) plastic bags, 1 inside the other. Combine 1 quart water, salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, and allspice in large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until salt dissolves. Remove from heat. Add 1 quart cold water and cool to lukewarm. Pour into plastic bags; mix in remaining 6 quarts water. Submerge turkey in brine to cover completely, gathering bags tightly to eliminate any air; tie bags closed. Refrigerate turkey in brine in pot at least 18 hours and up to 20 hours.
Line large roasting pan with 4 layers of paper towels. Remove turkey from brine and drain well; discard brine. Place turkey in prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
For herb butter and gravy:
Mix parsley, sage, and nutmeg in small bowl. Transfer half of chopped herb mixture to small bowl; mix in 1/2 cup butter.
Combine broth and apple cider in heavy large saucepan. Boil until reduced to 3 cups, about 20 minutes. Pour broth reduction into bowl. Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter in same saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour; stir 1 minute. Whisk in broth reduction, then cream, and remaining chopped herb mixture. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until gravy base is thickened and reduced to 2 3/4 cups, whisking often, about 20 minutes. Cool gravy base slightly. (Gravy base and herb butter can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)To roast the turkey:
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Remove turkey from roasting pan; drain any accumulated juices from main cavity. Discard paper towels from roasting pan. Melt herb butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Brush bottom of roasting pan with some of herb butter. Return turkey to prepared pan. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together loosely to hold shape. Place some apple quarters and onion quarters in main cavity. Brush remaining herb butter over turkey; sprinkle with pepper. Scatter remaining apples and onions around turkey in pan.
Roast turkey 1 hour. Baste with 1/2 cup apple cider. Roast turkey 30 minutes. Baste with remaining 1/2 cup cider. Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, basting turkey every 30 minutes with pan juices and covering breast loosely with foil if browning too quickly, about 2 hours longer (3 1/2 hours total). Transfer turkey to platter; let stand at least 30 minutes before carving (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees).
Discard apples and onions from pan. Pour pan juices into large glass measuring cup; spoon off fat from surface. Pour degreased juices into gravy base and bring to boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Boil until gravy thickens enough to coat spoon and is reduced to 3 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Season gravy to taste with pepper.
Serve turkey with gravy.
These potatoes were born for gravy. They're just waiting....

I almost forgot to remind you to vote for my recipe at French's. There are only six days left to vote every day to send old Pru to NYC. Can we get to 500 votes this weekend? Help me find out. And thank you. Good-bye.
Next Up:
Brown Bag Apple Pie for my Cousin Julie


Jillian K. said...

Brown bag apple pie! I can't wait! My husband once sent us on a chase all through Ohio Amish country looking for one because he had seen it on some news segment years ago...the only clue he had was that it should only take a tank of gas to get there from Cleveland and you buy the pie from a restaurant on a hill. We found it, but it would be much easier if I could make on at home!

Fantastic Mr. R said...

Oh my word, I'm drooling before breakfast. I can't wait for the festivities to begin! I tell you, your gravy is the best and really only gravy that I will eat.
This recipe is divine and perfect and heavenly and if you aren't sure what to make this year, make this one.
Thanks for posting it and the photos are gorgeous.
Now I remember why I have been running everyday for the last month, so I can eat eat eat! Happy Thanksgiving!

The JR said...

Your close to 500. I've been voting everyday!

Wow, I hope my turkey looks that good. I'm going to put it in the fridge to thaw tomorrow. Will try the brine.

Mine is 14 LB's. I picked the largest one they had on sale. .37 cents a lb. $5.16 for the bird. Yea!

Prudy said...

What a great story! Do you mind if I include your comment in my post? Let me know. Thanks, Prudy

Prudy said...

Japanese Redneck:
OH, what a steal! We should eat turkey all year at those prices!

Prudy said...

If you promise to always have Thanksgiving and your birthday with me, I'll make you gravy until the end of my days.

Jillian K. said...

No, I wouldn't mind at all! It was as close as I'll ever get to being on the Amazing Race!

Jillian K. said...

PS as long as you fix my spelling error...

Amber said...

Wow! That meal looks delicious!! I'm impressed (and now hungry). My mother in law always takes over the turkey and gravy and delegates the sides to me. Maybe one year it'll be my turn for the turkey!

Prudy said...

Lucky, I had to read it 79.5 times to find the spelling error. Isn't it funny how your mind reads what it expects? I'm constantly misspelling homophones (I know how to spell, promise-but when I'm typing fast I can't promise anything) and then I have to go back and edit all day long.

Jen @ said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am having Thanksgiving dinner at my house this year and I'm starting to freak out about what to have. Coming up with a good menu is far too hard for me!


Seth and Julie said...

My heart just jumped into my stomach, or maybe it was my stomach into my throat? All I know is that I had a real physical reaction when I read that brown bag pie is next. I was so hoping it was coming in time for Thanksgiving.

That Turkey doesn't look too shabby either. Since I spent 6 years as a vegetarian I struggle with animals that still look like their living counterparts. Since I don't live close enough to crash your Thanksgiving I think this is the year to overcome my carcass anxiety. Now that I know the thaw has to start tomorrow, I better head out for my bird tonight. Thanks for the tips.

Now I am going to pitch my tent and sit right here, waiting for that pie. I can't wait!

Katie and Mark said...

Speaking of crashing Thanksgiving....We are going to be joining the Thanksgiving festivities this year! :) We thought it would be more fun to join our family in Santa Clara then it would be here in Vegas all alone! Hope you don't mind. After this post, I must say-there are now EVEN MORE reasons I am looking forward to Thanksgiving! :)

Adrienne said...

Oh man, the only turkey I ever made by myself was a Turducken (turkey duck chicken---not the naughty expletive it almost is). The whole experience was so horrible, we've never had Thanksgiving dinner since then unless we were guests. Your post almost ALMOST inspired me to try again, but I'd rather spend the day relaxing and go to our favorite Tex-Mex restaurant. YEs, I hate doing dishes that much. Have fun y'all!

Prudy said...

Seth and Julie:
I have an easy solution-come spend Thanksgiving with us. You're invited. I mean it. I feel the same way about big bird turkey. I like it better all sliced up with no reminder of its formal life.

Prudy said...

You're family! It's not even possible to crash when you have a permanent invite. We're completely excited to have you.

Julie Harward said...

Prudy..this all sounds so good. I have never used brining, my niece is going to do it this year. I always use fresh turkeys and this year we are adding 3 sweethearts turkeys breasts too since we have many coming for dinner...all our kids (8) and spouses and grands..for 4 days! I used to do gravy this way, but now I use corn startch to thicken it. I love the sage and apple taste for it thought..will try it! Have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING you cute little cook! Come say hi :D

Leslie said...

I loved what you wrote to Katie about having a permanent invite.
That's the best thing about family.
All you have to do is open the door and you belong!

Everything looked beautiful, and I'm not even much of a Thanksgiving food fan.
I have the palate of a child and only look forward to the rolls and the mashed potatoes&gravy.
I don't think I've ever had your Heidi-endorsed gravy!!!! Where have I been? I don't even know when I was home for the last Thanksgiving. I need to be there.
Mike even said it again, today.
And as usual....we'll see.

dining furniture said...

Thanks for the recipe. Turkey has been the star of our table every Christmas dinner and I always make sure that every year I offer something new to our turkey.

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess if you are calling me out Prudy I better shoot back. I guess my gravy fascination started as a boy. My mother made these dry dispicable things called pinwheels and the only saving grace for those puppies was said mothers watered gravy (watered down herexpliantion - less calories)My big plans were to open a gravy restauraunt upon completing college, like Baskin and Robbins except for 31 different flavors of gravy not ice cream. I drew up a business plan and presented it to venture capital investment firm. All was going great I even had a tofu based gravy but my big plans came crashing down when I showed them my mascot, a giant blob of gravy with beady eyes, big lips (like the rolling stones kind, tounge and all) and a moustache. I love your gravy becuse it takes me back, back to moms pinwheels and the restaurant. I have an appointment to donate blood a few days after Turkey day and if all goes well, instead of blood they will only get gravy. Here comes Heidi, gotta go. Mikey

Michal said...

oh, mikey! i'm glad i get to comment after him:)

i love this recipe from bon appetit. it has been my standard since they printed it five or six years ago or whenever it was. love it. but i'll admit that i'm always scared of the gravy (the lumps) and so i generally buy the williams-sonoma gravy base, which is not remotely pennywise of me. i just can't tolerate a bland or lumpy gravy. your post has given me courage, prudy, to try it on my own this year.

i love that QM's grandma asked that about his bride-to-be, and now i'm dying to hear what she wanted to know about him. i can just hear QM's response with the pause and the comment about tacos. you've got a keeper there!

oh, and as long as i'm competing with mikey for the longest comment, i'm so sorry that i spaced your birthday. i hope it was marvelously wonderful.:)

Stephanie said...

This gravy looks great! I laughed at your grandma story...what is it about grandmas and making sure their grandsons marry girls that can cook?

Catherine said...

Thankyou so much for sharing this. The gravy always scares me. I'm so glad I'm eating at your house next week, but I'll keep this post in my back pocket for another year.

The Blonde Duck said...

What about tacos with gravy?

HappyMe2 said...

I thought that only all natural turkeys should be brined - not the basted turkeys that are available for the cheapest price like the Walmart ones. I know that Butterball says not to brine theirs on their website.

Prudy said...

I've brined all natural and I've also brined a pre-brined turkey. I don't think the prebrined turkeys keep the "brine" flavor after they are frozen. I brine mine again and they come out deelish. Great question.

Brenna said...

We are doing a smoked turkey this year, any ideas on gravy without the drippings?

Prudy said...

I've got a couple suggestions. First of all, you can make the gravy base from my post. Next you can brown some chicken wings and other boney, inexpensive cuts of poultry just to get the drippings. Add those to the gravy base and it'll be delicious. One other option: williams sonoma makes a delicious but a bit pricey turkey gravy base. You can add that in place of the drippings. I think it's about $8.00 for two cups, but what the heck! Best of luck.

Katrina said...

Great post! I just saw Bobby Flay do a sage and apple (butter, I think) turkey. Sounds great! Great tutorial and the recipe sounds de-lish.

Brenna said...

Thanks so much for you suggestions!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for these recipes!! I followed them and delivered an AWESOME Thanksgiving meal. I always struggle w/doing gravy, so it was a true JOY to have the gravy base already made! We're doing the apple pie in a bag this weekend!! Thanks again!!

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Courtney said...

Thank you! This recipe is to die for! I bought a turkey right after Thanksgiving for 8 dollars and put it in my freezer for future use. Well, my in-laws ( including grandma-in-law) came to visit for the weekend and I made this turkey and gravy for them. No one could stop talking about how amazing it was. Going on and on about how it tastes like a 5 star, gourmet restaurant meal. I must admit, it is the best turkey I have ever had and the gravy ohhhhh.....(swoon). My father-in-law offered me 20 dollars to take home the leftovers. Fantastic job Prudy!

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