Ultimate Roast Turkey — Back by Popular Demand

Here is the roast turkey recipe that changed my life when I made it for Thanks­giv­ing. It is based on a Martha Stew­art ver­sion that I stream­lined, adapted and improved. My gravy is old-fashioned and the best.

The result: mag­a­zine cover looks and superbly moist, evenly cooked flesh.

Dear cooks, you’re welcome.

The Ulti­mate Roast Turkey

I pre­fer a fresh rather than frozen turkey, prefer­ably as nat­u­rally raised as pos­si­ble. Cheese­cloth is sold in most cook­ware stores. While turkey is roast­ing, make stock by sim­mer­ing neck and innards (except liver) along with a car­rot, a small onion and herbs of choice in water to cover for at least 2 hours. Drain; dis­card solids.

About 20-lb/9-kilo turkey

1 cup (½ lb/250 g) butter

750-mL bot­tle dry white wine

Kosher salt

Pre­heat oven to 325F.

Cut piece of cheese­cloth to form 4 lay­ers about 18 inches/46 cm square.

In saucepan, melt but­ter with wine over medium-low heat. Place cheese­cloth in saucepan; let soak.

Place turkey on wire rack in roast­ing pan. Sprin­kle with salt. Place soaked cheese­cloth on top to cover breast and legs.

Roast in oven 4 to 4½ hours, bast­ing every half-hour with butter/wine mix­ture, until juices run clear or ther­mome­ter placed in thick­est part of thigh (do not touch bone) reg­is­ters 180F (82C) for stuffed turkey, 170F (77C) for unstuffed.

Remove turkey from oven. Care­fully peel off cheese­cloth. Let stand about 15 min­utes before carving.

Makes 12 to 14 servings.

Turkey Gravy

Red cur­rant or black cur­rant jam are best but oth­ers like rasp­berry would be fine.

About 3 tbsp all-purpose flour

3 cups home-made turkey stock

1 tbsp jam or jelly

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Trans­fer cooked turkey on its wire rack to cut­ting board.

Drain and dis­card all but about 4 table­spoons of drip­pings from roast­ing pan. Place pan on stove over medium-low heat. Add flour; whisk until smooth. Add stock. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, whisk­ing and scrap­ing up all browned bits from pan until smooth and thick­ened. Add jam, salt and pep­per; stir to com­bine. Pour gravy through sieve; dis­card solids.

Makes about 3 cups.

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  1. Posted October 8, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mar­ion Turkey recipe sounds famil­iar — the cheese­cloth part and jelly in the gravy reminds me of aa par­tridge recipe I used to do from the cook I learned to first love cook­ing –Madame Jenine Benoit. She’s up there, in my books, with Julia. I am writ­ing about inter­view with Geonne Gomesh (sp?) regard­ing rice steam­ers. I poach lovely eggs in mine, but it won’t cook rice throughly for me! Will try your turkey, but I always brine my poul­try first. Cheers and Best Wishes Judy Biggs, St John’s NL.

  2. shelley wood
    Posted October 8, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Mar­ion I heard you on the CBC today and I just checked out your web site. I am excited to try your turkey recipe.

  3. Jodi
    Posted October 8, 2009 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mar­ion, I am such a new­bie at this turkey din­ner thing and I am going to give your recipe a go. I do have one question–do I put the cover on the roast­ing pan or leave it uncovered?

  4. Sandy Delion
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    You have inspired me — 20 peo­ple com­ing for Turkey on Mon­day — using you’re recipe for turkey.
    Heard you on CBC — inspired me enough to
    try the car­rot cake tonight.

  5. Melanie
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mar­ion,
    Thanks for the recipe! I heard it about it first on Q, and then had to do some of my own sleuthing to find this website.

    I’m away from home attend­ing uni­ver­sity and will be cook­ing turkey for the first time on Sun­day for a cou­ple friends. I have been sift­ing through roast turkey recipes all week; thanks for pro­vid­ing an alter­na­tive way to a tasty turkey that doesn’t involve mas­sag­ing but­ter under the skin of a cold, dead bird. ..I’m just saying. :)

    (Mon­treal, QC)

  6. Rick
    Posted October 10, 2009 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    I am going to try this recipe. I have a question:

    Does the cheese cloth have to be remved at any point so that the turkey browns?

    My mother always wrapped the turkey in tin foil and remove it for the last hour to brown.

  7. Teresa Posedowski
    Posted November 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Hello Mar­ion,

    I hope that you can help me in recov­er­ing a trea­sured, but LOST, stuff­ing recipe that you had pub­lished at least twenty years ago in the Toronto Star. it was a scrump­tious treat filled with dried fruits…Amazing!!

  8. Marion
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Hi Teresa,

    Yes that recipe for stuff­ing is in the Toronto Star cook­book I did some years ago and now out of print: The Best of Food. I’ll scan it and send it to your e-mail. I will also try to do a blog post to include it. Have you tried my Ulti­mate Roast Turkey recipe? It’s on this web­site — def­i­nitely a winner.