RECIPE: Roast Turkey & Gravy

 In Local Food, Nutrition & Health, Recipes

Roast Turkey & Gravy by Barbie Aknin of Community Cuisine

Photo by Lora Mae Photography


Thanks to the free-range life of these birds, you will have a turkey full of flavor. Using a brine pulls out the sweetness without masking the rich meat natural flavor.



  • One Rockside Ranch Turkey, 10 to 13 pounds, *thawed. For a 14 to 15 pound bird, double the brine.
  • 3 quarts (12 cups) water
  • 1 1/4 cup kosher salt or sea salt
  • 2 1/4 cups honey or 1 cup honey and 1 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 4 to 6 lemons
  • 30 garlic cloves, smashed slightly with the side of a knife
  • 30 allspice
  • 30 black peppercorns
  • 2 bunches sage, optional
  • 1 large onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 (7-lb) bag of ice, optional, see below
  • Olive oil for rubbing the bird
  • 1 quart (4 cups)  turkey stock made with giblets and neck (reserving cooked giblets) or chicken or vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour or gluten free flour


PREP — Thawing the Turkey

  1. Place the turkey in a large pan or bowl to catch the drips and thaw it in the refrigerator allowing 24 hours for every 5 pounds.
  2. To thaw more quickly, place unopened turkey breast down in a clean sink filled with cold tap water. Allow 30 minutes per pound. Change water every 30 minutes to keep surface of turkey cold.
  3. When thawed, keep in refrigerator for up to 4 days until ready to cook.


STEPS — Brining

  1. Combine six cups of the water, 1 bunch of sage, and the remaining brine ingredients in a deep sauce pan and bring to a simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved and gently for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the remaining (cold) water. Stir and cool completely.
  3. Remove the giblets and neck and reserve for gravy or another use and rinse the turkey. Pat dry with paper towel.
  4. Brine the bird for 60 minutes per pound, about 12 hours, turning once to make sure you’ve brined both sides of the turkey.
  5. Here are two choices for brining the bird:
    1. Pour the brine into a nonreactive container just large enough to hold the bird and the liquid Making sure it fits in the fridge. The bird should be submerged as much as possible. You can also turn it half way through the brining process.
    2. Use a medium plastic picnic cooler that just fits the turkey. Place the turkey into a good quality plastic garbage bag and then place the bag into a second plastic bag for double protection. Place the bird into the cooler and slowly pour the cold brine into the interior bag. Gather the bags tightly around the bird. Seal the first and then the second bag by tying it into a tight knot. Cover the bag with ice. Check often to make sure the turkey is cold and surrounded with ice. Refresh ice when needed. Turn the bird once throughout the process to brine evenly.


STEPS — Roasting

  1. Plan on 10 to 15 minutes per pound roasting time. Calculate using both 10 and 15 minutes multiplied by the weight of your turkey to gage timing and start to check the bird for doneness at the earlier time.
  2. One hour before roasting, remove the turkey from the brine. Rinse, discarding the brine and dry thoroughly with paper towel.
  3. Turn the wing tips back to hold the neck in place, tucking them under the back.
  4. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a large shallow roasting pan and cover loosely with a paper towel. Set aside to bring to room temperature.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F
  6. Stuff the cavity with the second bunch of sage, halved lemons and the onion.
  7. Pat the bird to dry completely and massage the bird thoroughly with the olive oil. Do not sprinkle with salt or pepper. The bird has been flavored with the brine and the salt and pepper will blemish the skin.
  8. Insert an oven safe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, being sure that the pointed end of the thermometer does not touch the bone.
  9. Add the turkey neck and chicken feet (see turkey stock below) to the pan to brown for the stock.
  10. Put the turkey in the oven and reduce temperature to 325˚F
  11. Roast turkey, basting with the stock every half hour or so. While basting, check the neck and feet. Once golden brown remove them and make the stock below.
  12. Once the breast is browned to your liking, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning.
  13. Continue to roast until the thermometer registers 175°F in the thigh, or 160°F in the breast.
  14. Remove turkey from the oven and allow it to sit, loosely tented with foil, for 15-20 minutes before carving.



  • Turkey Gravy
  • Turkey Stock


About the Chef

Barbie Aknin of Community Cuisine has provided cooking instruction in corporate settings, cooking schools, private events, and in her own home for more than twenty years.

Community Cuisine brings people together in the kitchen to cook, to learn, and to celebrate. We teach the art, technique, and value of cooking by sharing wisdom from culinary traditions past and present. All classes incorporate professional cooking methodology that offers our students the tools they need to tackle any type of cuisine or diet.

To learn more about Community Cuisine, visit


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