While there are no laws governing which dishes must appear on Thanksgiving dinner tables, for many the fourth Thursday of November simply would not be complete without turkey. Turkey can be cooked in various ways, but roasting might be the most popular method used by Thanksgiving celebrants. This recipe for “Herb-Roasted Turkey” from Yolanda Banks’ “Cooking for Your Man” (Broadway Books) produces a mouth-watering bird that’s sure to make a lasting impression this Thanksgiving.
12 tablespoons (11⁄2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1⁄4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, plus 4 whole sprigs
1 large sprig fresh rosemary, leaves chopped, plus 2 whole sprigs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 4 whole sprigs
15 leaves fresh sage, chopped, plus 3 whole leaves
3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the turkey
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for the turkey
1 15-pound turkey
1 lemon, quartered
8 shallots, peeled and halved
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
2⁄3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1. In a small bowl, combine the butter, chopped parsley, chopped rosemary, chopped thyme, chopped sage, salt, and pepper, and mix well.
2. Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 F. Sprinkle the main cavity of the turkey with salt and pepper. Place the whole sprigs of parsley, rosemary and thyme and the sage leaves into the cavity. Add the lemon, 4 shallot halves and half of the garlic cloves.
3. Starting at the neck end, carefully slide a hand between the skin and the breast meat to loosen the skin. Spread 3 tablespoons of the herb butter over the breast meat under the skin. Tuck the wing tips under the skin, and tie the legs together to hold the shape. Season the turkey generously all over with salt and pepper.
4. Place the turkey on a wire rack set in a large roasting pan. Rub 4 tablespoons of the herb butter over the turkey. Roast about 30 minutes, until golden brown, and reduce the heat to 350 F. Baste the turkey with 1⁄2 cup of the broth. Cover only the breast area with a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Scatter the remaining shallots and garlic cloves in the pan around the turkey.
5. Continue to roast the turkey for about 11⁄2 hours, basting with 1⁄2 cup of broth every 30 minutes. Remove the foil from the turkey breast. Continue to roast the turkey, basting with pan juices every 20 minutes, about 1 hour longer, until it’s golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 F. Transfer the turkey to a platter and brush with 1 tablespoon of the herb butter. Tent it loosely with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.
6. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots and garlic from the roasting pan to a plate. Transfer the pan juices to a medium bowl, then skim off and discard the fat. Set the pan over two burners on medium-high heat. Deglaze the pan with the wine and 1 cup of chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until it’s reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Pour the sauce into a large measuring glass. Add the degreased pan juices, and broth, if necessary, to equal 3 cups of liquid.
7. Blend the flour into the remaining herb butter until combined. Pour the broth mixture into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Gradually whisk in the herb-butter mixture. Add any accumulated juices from the turkey platter and boil until the gravy thickens enough to coat a spoon, whisking occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add the remaining shallots and garlic to the gravy and simmer for 1 minute. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Serve the turkey with the gravy.