Turkey 101: Roasting, carving, gravy and more

CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) – From cooking and carving the turkey to making a delicious gravy, Personal Chef Bill Collins from ChefBill.com, shared his stress-free, full proof tips to cooking a delicious Thanksgiving dinner.

Turkey Gravy and More!

This three-part recipe will help you from the moment your turkey comes put of the oven until you’re ready to carve it. It has the gravy, the turkey stock, and removing the drippings from the pan. One-stop gravy making!

Turkey Gravy


¼ cup flour or cornstarch
1/2 cup water
4 cups turkey or chicken stock
pan drippings from roasted turkey, strained
deglazed drippings and stock from pan (see below)

salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine the flour (or cornstarch) and water. Whisk to remove any lumps, and set aside. This is called a slurry.
Place the pan drippings, deglazed bits, and 2 cups of the stock in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer.
Taste the sauce. Add more stock, if you’d like more gravy. But don’t let the gravy become too mild in taste by adding too much stock. .
As an optional step, you can strain the gravy now if you like it smooth.
With the gravy at a slow simmer, add ½ of the slurry, and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until it thickens. If you’d like it thicker, add more slurry.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Other (optional) ingredients to add to your gravy:
1/3 cup bourbon or white wine
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces, whisked into the gravy
Add the cooked giblets to the gravy after it’s strained
How to make Turkey Stock from Giblets
Take the giblets (neck, liver heart, and gizzards) from the turkey’s cavity, and cover them with 4-5 cups of water.
Add an onion, chopped stalk of celery, and a chopped carrot. Simmer uncovered for one hour. If the water level goes down by more than ¼, add cold water and bring back to a simmer.
After an hour, strain the stock. You can chop up the meats from the stock and add them to your finished gravy

You can make stock out of the giblets (neck, liver, heart, etc), and do this in advance. It’s either in the turkey’s large cavity, or in the smaller one (opposite end of the large on), often under the skin. To make the stock, add 6 cups of water to the giblets, and add one onion, cut into quarters (you don’t even have to peel the onion unless you want to), 2 carrots, cut into chunks (you don’t have to peel the carrot, either) and two stalks of celery, including leaves. Add 2 bay leaves (if you don’t have these, it’s okay to leave them out). Bring this to a boil, and gently simmer for 45 minutes. If the water level reduces by more than a 1/3 cup, add more water. Strain, and you’re ready to use the stock. You can make this up to three days ahead. The stock that’s leftover after roasting can be used for your gravy
If your turkey comes with a plastic, pop-up thermometer already inserted in the turkey, remove it and throw it away. Use an instant-read thermometer, inserted at the thigh, for an accurate temperature. The pop-up might not be 100% accurate.
You can use softened unsalted butter in place of the olive oil
For roasting times, it’s approximately 15 minutes per pound for an unstuffed turkey, and approximately 20 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey.
If you’re roasting a turkey that had been frozen, make sure it’s completely thawed before roasting
Previously frozen turkeys often take longer to roast than fresh ones.
You don’t have to tie up (truss) the legs for roasting. Trussing will not give you a moister turkey
Removing the turkey and deglazing
Remove the turkey from the pan. Rest it on a warm platter as you make the gravy.
Pour the liquid from the pan into a large bowl or heat-proof pitcher. Remove the pan drippings that are not stuck in the pan and place these in a separate, 2 quart saucepan. Set all of these aside.
Once the liquid from the pan has cooled a bit, remove the fat from the top of the liquid, either with a spoon, or a fat-separator. Discard the fat.
Once you have removed the drippings and liquid from the turkey roasting pan, there may be some bits of turkey that are stuck in the pan. To remove them, place the pan on a burner (or two, if the pan is large enough) on a medium-high heat. Have a wooden spoon or scraper handy.
Once the pan is quite hot, and almost smoking, add ½ cup (or more, if needed) of the stock or other liquid to the pan. You want only a small amount of liquid to just moisten the stuck bits in the pan.
With the wooden spoon, scrape up the bits, and put these into a 2 quart saucepan, with the other loose bits that you removed from the roasting pan.
Roasted Turkey

1 (18 pound) whole turkey
1/3 cup olive oil
black pepper
2 cups turkey or chicken stock, or water
8 cups stuffing (at least)

Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Place rack in the lowest position of the oven
You’ll need a turkey roasting pan. If you don’t have one, and if you use a disposable pan, make sure you place a sheet pan underneath it while roasting the turkey. This will help removing it from the oven, as it might be unsteady when you try to remove it after the turkey is cooked.
An hour before roasting, remove the turkey from the fridge to let it rest. Remove the turkey neck and giblets. These will be in a small bag either the big cavity, or at the other end, maybe even under the skin.
Rinse the turkey, and pat dry with paper towels. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in the roasting pan.
Just before roasting, loosely fill the body cavity with stuffing. Brush the skin with the olive oil, and generously season with salt and pepper.
Place turkey in the oven, and pour 2 cups turkey stock into the bottom of the roasting pan. Baste all over every 30 minutes with the juices on the bottom of the pan. If the drippings evaporate, add stock to moisten them, about 1 to 2 cups at a time.
If the skin is getting too browned before the turkey is done, place an aluminum foil tent, shiny-side up, over the entire turkey. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh reads 165ºF, approximately 4-4 ½ hours.
Transfer the turkey to a large carving board, and let it stand for at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving.
Let the turkey rest on the cutting board for 20-30 minutes before carving.
It’s easier to do the carving with a 6″ utility knife. A chefs knife is too long for this task.
Carve the turkey in the kitchen, on a cutting board, on the counter. If you do it on the crowded table in the dining room, something bad will happen (dropped turkey, knocked over drinking glasses, etc.) that you will hear about until the end of time. If you can’t be seen, then nothing bad can happen.
When carving, think of it as taking apart a jigsaw puzzle. You have eight things to carve; two legs, two wings, two thighs, two breasts.
Removing the legs, wings and thighs is very similar. For each of them, gently cut around the joint. That is, where the leg joins the thigh, where the wing joins the body, and the thigh joins the body. As you cut around it, gently pull on the leg, wing, or thigh. The bone where the joints meet will show. Place the knife where they meet, and gently cut to separate them. Remove these bones before you remove the breast meat.
For the breast meat (also known as the white meat), look directly down on the turkey. At the top center, running the length of the turkey, is the breast bone that separates the two halves. Stick the knife into the meat, parallel to the breast bone, and as close to it as possible. Carefully cut the meat away from the bone, moving the knife all along the breast meat. Since you started halfway into the meat, cut the still-attached meat away, in the opposite direction you just cut. The meat will pull away from the bone, and you can cut whatever meat is still attached. The goal is to remove each breast half in one piece. Cutting the length of breast meat, you can now cut slices in whatever thickness you’d like.
Place it all on the platter, and serve!
Brussels Sprouts (Braised)
2 onions, peeled and sliced
1 pound Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup vegetable (or chicken) stock
salt and pepper to taste
Trim the ends off the sprouts, and cut them in half, length-wise, and rinse them.
Heat a large skillet, over a medium heat. Add the olive oil, then the onions. Sauté them for approximately 15-25 minutes, or until they are golden colored and mostly cooked through. Add the Brussels sprouts. If the pan is too crowded, add the Brussels in two batches.
When the sprouts have browned, add the stock, and bring to a simmer and cover. Simmer until the sprouts are cooked through, approximately 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.



Comments are closed.