Golden Cider-Roasted Turkey

Golden Cider-Roasted Turkey (adapted from Sunday Roasts)


1 (13- to 14-pound) turkey, patted dry

Kosher salt and pepper

2 cups (160 grams) chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (1 to 3 leeks)

2 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced

4 sage sprigs, plus extra for garnish

4 thyme sprigs, plus extra for garnish

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon dried sage

1 tablespoon dried thyme

2 1/2 cups apple cider

1 1/4 cups dry white wine

2 to 3 tablespoons flour


Arrange a rack at center position, and preheat oven to 325 degrees. (Make sure you can fit your turkey in the oven. I removed the top rack to make room.)

Remove the turkey neck and giblets from the cavities in the turkey. Discard the giblets and save the neck to roast with turkey.

Place the turkey on a rack set in a roasting pan, and place the neck in the pan next to it. Season the cavity of the turkey with salt and pepper.

Combine apples and leeks in a bowl, and place 1 cup (100 grams) of the mixture in the turkey cavity along with the sage and thyme sprigs.

If you use a Butterball turkey, you need only fold the wings under the turkey, but if you get a different turkey, you'll need to truss your turkey at this point (tie the legs together and secure the wings with twine).

In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, dried sage, dried thyme, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper until well blended. Reserve and set aside 2 tablespoons of the herb butter for the gravy.

Take 4 tablespoons of the remaining herb butter and rub it all over the turkey.

Spread the remaining leeks and apples on the bottom of the pan.

Combine the cider and white wine in a bowl or large measuring cup. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cider mixture for the gravy.

Pour 1/3 cup of the remaining cider mixture over the turkey.

Roast the turkey until golden brown and thermometer inserted in thigh registers 180 degrees (or use your judgment), basting every 30 minutes with the cider mixture and 1 tablespoon of the herb butter, for about 3 hours and 10 minutes or longer.

If turkey starts to brown too much, cover it loosely with foil.

When the turkey is done, transfer it to a platter and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. (I used two dish towels to pick up the hot turkey and move it to a platter.)

Set a sieve over a large bowl, and pour the pan drippings through it. Press down on solids to squeeze juices out, and then discard solids. Skim off and discard fat drippings (As I mentioned above, you can put the drippings in the fridge for a while and the fat will solidify, so you can just scoop it right off the top.)

Pour the drippings and any juices from the platter into a saucepan, add the reserved cider mixture and any cider mixture left over from basting. Place the pan over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring often, until liquids are reduce by a third, about 5 minutes.

Combine reserved herb butter, any remaining herb butter form basting, and 2 tablespoons of flour to make a paste. (Add more flour, if you want a thicker gravy.)

Stir the butter-flour mixture into the pan a little at a time until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 5 to 6 minutes.

Season with salt to taste, and transfer to serving bowl or gravy boat.

Carve and plate the turkey, garnish with sage and thyme sprigs, and serve, passing gravy on the side.

Some notes: The original recipe calls for 3 to 4 leeks, and I only needed 1 to get 160 grams of chopped leeks, so I made sautéed apples and leeks with the extras. I took my turkey out long before the thigh registered 180 degrees. The breast was at 165. I was a little worried that the thighs weren't fully done, but I just reserved them for my stock instead of serving them, so I didn't have to take any chances. And they filled my soup with tons of flavorful turkey meat. 

-Delicious Dishings