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Maria’s Pre-Prepared Roast Turkey

To make Maria’s favourite turkey recipe for four, you’ll need: 

  • 1 fresh turkey (she recommends about 4kg)
  • 1 large white onion, halved and sliced crosswise
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • Grated zest of ½ lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Stockman’s make-ahead turkey recipe requires a little forward planning, as your prep must begin two to three days before you roast the turkey. 
To start, combine two tablespoons of salt with your thyme and lemon zest. Wash the turkey inside and out, drain it well, and pat it all over with paper towels. Then, sprinkle the cavity of your turkey with salt. Rub the salt and lemon mixture all over the skin, including under the turkey’s wings and legs.Place your turkey in a shallow dish just large enough to hold it. Wrap your bird tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one to two days. Remove the plastic wrap the day before you plan to roast the turkey, leaving it in the fridge so you can dry the skin out. When you’re ready to roast, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Place your turkey in a medium roasting pan, adding the lemon and thyme sprigs to the cavity. Tie your turkey’s legs together and tie the wings close to the body. 
Add your onion slices around the turkey. Brush everything with butter and sprinkle pepper on top. Roast your turkey for 75 to 90 minutes, until your meat is 75 degrees. Take your turkey out of the oven and place it on a platter, removing the legs and thighs. Then throw your roasting pan back in the oven to cook your dark meat for 15 to 20 minutes, until it’s 85 degrees. Take your pan out of the oven and add your dark meat to the platter. Tightly cover all of your turkey pieces with aluminum foil and let them rest for 15 to 30 minutes. Pour Maria’s pre-prepared gravy into an oven-proof serving platter. Carve the turkey and place it on top of the gravy. Throw your uncovered platter into the oven for 15 to 30 minutes, until the turkey is very hot. Serve with extra gravy on the side. If you want to save even more time, Maria recommends making the gravy up to a week before you roast the turkey. Just be sure to refrigerate it.

Pre-prepared Turkey Gravy with Onions & Sage (Makes 2 cups)

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ large red onion, halved and sliced ¼-inch thick
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 tablespoon Cognac or brandy
  • 5 large fresh sage leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup dry white wine, such as 2019 Stockman’s Pinot Gris

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté, stirring often, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onion becomes browned and starts to caramelize. Sprinkle on the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, for 1½ minutes. Stir in the chicken stock, brandy, sage leaves, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper, depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour and strain, pressing the solids lightly, and then discarding them. Refrigerate until ready to use.After the turkey is cooked, remove it to a carving board to rest while you finish the gravy. Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over a medium heat and add the white wine. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring and scraping up all the bits clinging to the bottom of the pan. Slowly whisk the gravy base into the pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the gravy is smooth and slightly thickened. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.*To make ahead, make the gravy base and refrigerate for up to a week. Finish with the turkey pan juices from the turkey plus the wine, season to taste, and serve hot.