November 16, 2020

Perfectly Crisp Roast Turkey

Recipe: Eshun Mott

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours

Ask your butcher for a fresh (not frozen) free-range turkey — heritage birds can sometimes be a little leaner and drier. Adding baking powder to the brine mixture results in a crispier skin, and using a V-rack over a baking sheet for the roasting may mean more splatters in your oven, but it’ll allow air to circulate around the turkey and roast the dark meat more evenly. Serve this turkey with our super-flavorful Madeira Gravy, made with a fortified wine from Portugal!


  • 1 whole turkey (12 to 14 lbs.)

Dry Brine

  • 2 tbsp Diamond kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

For Turkey

  • 1 onion, halved
  • 10 branches fresh thyme
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1½ tsp crushed fennel seed
  • 1½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp hot smoked paprika

Madeira Gravy

  • ¾ cup pan drippings (fat skimmed off)
  • ⅓ cup Madeira
  • 2½ cups homemade or low-sodium chicken or turkey stock, divided
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp whipping cream (optional)


Yield: Serves 8

Plan Ahead: Dry-brine the turkey in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. The bird will also need 60 minutes to come to room temperature before roasting.

Dry-Brine Turkey

  1. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. In small bowl, combine salt, baking powder and pepper. Over rimmed baking sheet, hold turkey upright by legs. Sprinkle back of turkey with rub, then set down on rack placed on baking sheet and sprinkle turkey with rest of salt mixture until evenly coated. Set tray with turkey in refrigerator, and leave uncovered for 8 to 24 hours.
  2. Remove turkey from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Prepare Turkey

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Stuff turkey with onion and fresh thyme. Tie legs together and place turkey into V-rack over clean and sturdy rimmed baking sheet.
  2. In small bowl, combine melted butter with fennel seed, dried thyme and smoked paprika, and brush all over turkey.

Roast Turkey

  1. In bottom third of oven, roast turkey for 30 minutes, or until skin is nicely browned.
  2. Brush with any remaining butter mixture, cover breast and legs loosely with foil, turn oven down to 325°F and continue roasting for 2 to 2½ hours, or until instant-read thermometer reads 165°F at thickest part of breast or thigh. Turkey will continue to cook before it begins to cool.

Make Gravy & Serve Turkey

  1. Transfer V-rack with turkey to carving board to rest for 30 minutes before carving (this will give you much juicer meat). Drain any juices into gravy separator or measuring cup, and carefully transfer any juices from rimmed baking sheet to gravy separator as well.
  2. If baking sheet has sticky drippings attached to it, put on oven mitts, then, over medium-high heat, place it on stovetop and pour Madeira over top.
  3. Use wooden spoon or silicone spatula to scrape up and incorporate drippings into Madeira. Let boil for 1 minute, or until fully dissolved, then carefully pour into medium pot. If baking sheet doesn’t have drippings attached, simply pour Madeira into pot, bring to boil and boil for 1 minute.
  4. To pot add reserved drippings, 2 cups of stock and bring to a boil. In small bowl, whisk flour with remaining ½ cup cold stock until smooth, then add to pot in slow, steady stream while whisking to incorporate.
  5. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until gravy is thickened and flavorful. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding a little cream if desired. Strain and transfer to gravy boat. You should have about 3 cups of very flavorful gravy.
  6. Carve turkey and serve with Madeira Gravy.

Stacey Brandford


House & Home November 2020