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Herb-Butter Roasted Turkey with Pinot Noir Gravy


Serves 12, with leftovers.

To brine the turkey you need space for a 5-gallon pot in your refrigerator. If you have neither the room nor the pot, you can cook the brine in a smaller pan and proceed with one of our alternative brining methods.

For the brine:
  • 2-1/2 gallons water
  • 14 oz. kosher salt (2-1/2 cups Diamond Crystal or 1-1/4 cups Morton's)
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 24 bay leaves
  • 24 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/3 cup whole black peppercorns
  • 2 small bunches fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 4 oz.)
  • 1 small bunch fresh sage (about 1 oz.)
  • 6 medium sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Zest and juice of 4 large lemons (remove the zest in long strips with a vegetable peeler)
For the turkey:
  • 14- to 16-lb. natural turkey (preferably fresh)
  • 1 recipe Three-Herb Butter, softened
  • 2 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted
For the gravy:
  • 2-1/2 oz. (5 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 2-1/2 oz. (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups Three-Herb Turkey Broth or low-salt chicken broth
  • 1-1/2 cups Pinot Noir
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Two days ahead, prepare the brine:

Put all of the brine ingredients in a 5-gallon stockpot with a lid. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool to room temperature, cover the pot, and refrigerate the brine until cold, preferably overnight.

One day ahead: brine the turkey:

If already loose, trim the tail from the turkey. Otherwise, leave it attached. Remove and discard the giblets. Keep the neck and tail in the refrigerator. Rinse the turkey and put it in the pot with the brine. Refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours before roasting the turkey.

Prepare and roast the turkey:

Position a rack in the bottom of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine. Rinse the turkey well, pat it dry, and set it in a large flameproof roasting pan. Gently slide your hand between the breast meat and skin to separate the skin so you can apply the herb butter. Slice the herb butter into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and distribute them evenly between the skin and breast meat, completely covering the breast. Maneuver a few pieces between the skin and legs, too. Next, with your hands on the outside of the turkey, massage the butter under the skin to distribute it evenly and break up the round pieces so the turkey won’t look polka-dotted when it’s done.

Sprinkle 1 Tbs. of the salt and 1 Tbs. of the pepper in the cavity of the turkey. Tie the legs together. Fold the wings back and tuck the tips under the neck area. Flip the turkey onto its breast, pat the back dry, and brush with some of the melted butter. Sprinkle with some of the remaining salt and pepper. Flip the turkey over, pat dry again, brush all over with the remaining butter, and sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper. Put the reserved neck and tail in the pan with the turkey. Cover the pan very tightly with foil and put in the oven, legs pointing to the back of the oven, if possible (the legs can handle the higher heat in the back better than the breast can). Roast undisturbed for 2 hours and then uncover carefully (watch out for escaping steam). Continue to roast, basting every 15 minutes with the drippings that have collected in the pan, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of both thighs reads 170° to 175°F and the juices run clear when the thermometer is removed, 45 minutes to 1 hour more for a 15-lb. turkey.

Remove the turkey from the oven. With a wad of paper towels in each hand, move the turkey to a serving platter, cover with foil to keep warm, and set aside. Discard the neck and tail; reserve the drippings in the roasting pan. Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes while you make the gravy and heat the side dishes

Make the gravy:

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the flour and quickly whisk it into the butter until it’s completely incorporated. Cook, whisking constantly, until the roux smells toasty and darkens slightly to a light caramel color (see image below), about 2 minutes. Watch carefully, as you don’t want it to get too dark. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Herb-Butter Roasted Turkey with Pinot Noir Gravy Recipe

Pour the reserved turkey drippings into a clear, heatproof container, preferably a fat separator cup. (Don’t rinse the roasting pan.) Let sit until the fat rises to the top, and then pour out 1 cup of the juices (or remove and discard the fat with a ladle and measure 1 cup of the juices). Combine the juices with the turkey or chicken broth.

Set the roasting pan on top of the stove over two burners on medium heat. Add the Pinot Noir and simmer, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to release any stuck-on bits, until the wine has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the broth mixture and simmer to meld the flavors, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the roux a little at a time until you have reached your desired thickness (you may not want to use it all). Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Strain through a fine sieve and transfer to a serving vessel.

Make Ahead Tips

The brine should be prepared 2 days before the Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey should be brined the day before. The roux may be prepared on Thanksgiving day and left at room temperature; whisk to recombine before using.


Leftover turkey is delicious in Turkey & Sweet Potato Hash.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 780, Fat (kcal): 47, Fat Calories (g): 420, Saturated Fat (g): 21, Protein (g): 74, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 14, Carbohydrates (mg): 7, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 7, Sodium (g): 1650, Cholesterol (g): 270, Fiber (g): 0,

Photo: Scott Phillips

This recipe was very simple, and all of our guests raved about the turkey. The gravy was the fantastic, though I used veggie broth rather than chicken broth. I will definitely use this recipe again.

There is no better recipe for Thanksgiving turkey than this. The brining is effortless and a must do! My guests all say they never ate such a delicious turkey...even husband who is not a turkey lover can't get enough! Wonderful recipe! It's the only one you'll need!

Be warned: once you make this turkey for Thanksgiving, you will ALWAYS make this turkey for Thanksgiving. Your friends and family will be sure of that! But you'll want to because it is so good.

I have made this brined turkey at least 4 times and it is the best ever, consistently. I'm making it again this year based on friends requests to do it again. As long as you get the timing right, start 3 days ahead, it's easy and wonderful!! Moist, flavorful, fall of the bone wonderful!

Must say I was rather skeptical about brining a turkey at first but since I did it a few years ago, I have never looked back! This is a fantastic brine but feel free to experiment depending what's in your fridge and spice rack. The gravy is lovely as well but I no longer make my own stock.

This went over really well with everyone (even my husband who hates turkey). We definitely tasted the brine in the meat. I achieved this by using about 1.5 times the amount of herbs, garlic and peppercorn listed in the recipe. I also let my brine simmer a little longer, but on very low heat (given the volume). The only thing I didn't like as much was the gravy, but I think that had to do with the pinot noir. I felt like there was too much of the wine flavor in the gravy, which overpowered the natural flavor of the turkey broth. I think next year I'll use a red that's a little less potent and let it reduce longer. Otherwise, this is probably the moistest, most flavor recipe I've tried to date.

I began using the recipe several years ago. I have never looked back. The taste is amazing! I love that I can do so many of the steps ahead of time. In fact, some years I have made double broth and herb butter and put it in the freezer to save myself some time for Christmas! I use my lobster pot to brine my turkey. It is the perfect size. I've done the brining bags(from Sur La Table) but I always go back to my pot. It just works better.

I was only looking for a good gravy to eat with mashed potatoes and fried chicken I made. I did not have an Pinot Noir wine, though everything else I followed to a "T". It was EXCELLENT! I will definnetly make this anytime I need a gravy. Also, I did not have pan drippings of any kind, because I pressure cooked the chicken. It was as I said before, excellent!

delicious, but if you can't spare the room to brine the turkey in the refrigerator, just put it a heavy new trash compactor bag with the brine in a large cooler and surround with problem!

I never used to make Thanksgiving dinner, not, at least, before this recipe. I am now the Thanksgiving and Christmas cook. All right, I know that you all will think that I have an investment in our local Cardiac Unit, but with that said, I must admit that I add strips of bacon over the turkey (under the cheesecloth). Family friends *leave* their family on Thanksgiving for this dish. Enough said. :)

Worked wonderfully :) So juicy & tender

I used the brine and herb butter from this recipe for my very first Thanksgiving and it was a HIT! I have now been elected to always do this holiday. Everyone was saying how juicy and delicious the turkey was! try it.

This receipt was prepared by a friend of my on Christmas. Huge hit ! The turkey was so moist and tasty, unbelievable ! I highly recommend this receipt. 100% !

Excellent, though I did not brine, but seasoned generously with salt and pepper one hour ahead, used dried herbs in the butter, cooked at 340degF and took the bird out at an internal temperature of 160degF. It was the best roasted turkey we've ever had.

I made this recipe with a free, promotional turkey from Shop Rite. The turkey was advertised as having nothing added, so it was a good candidate for brining. The texture and juiciness of the turkey were excellent. I'm giving this recipe only four stars because I think the brine would have been equally effective with only the salt. The turkey doesn't pick up the flavors of all the other brine ingredients. Also, I did not test for doneness with an instant read thermometer. I used my probe thermometer with an alarm in the turkey breast, and when the breast reached 161 degrees, I removed the turkey from the oven, knowig that the temperature would continue to rise to a safe 165 degrees while the turkey was resting. My husband, a gravy connoisseur, raved about the gravy. Making the roux was quick and easy, and the roux was easily incorporated into the gravy with a whisk.

I have used this recipe for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it turned out to be the juiciest and tastiest turkeys I ever made. For Christmas I used the turkey broth recipe as the gravy because of time constraints. It was delicious.

Amazing. I skipped the make-ahead turkey broth and used chicken broth. I also would take the foil off sooner - we cooked a 12.5 lb turkey and in the future would take the foil off after an hour as our turkey turned out a little bald looking, though the turkey meat was the most delicious moist meat I've ever tasted. Have to really mush down the butter before you put it in the oven to avoid funky circular marks on the outside of the turkey. Also need to pat dry the turkey to get the brine off to avoid skin that is too salty. In fact, I might avoid salting the outside at all in the future.

The recipe title caught my attention-herbs & wine. What could be better? I agree with other reviewers that the turkey was flavorful, and I particularly liked the gravy, and I'm not usually partial to gravy. However, it was much more work than other turkey recipes and while the brine smelled wonderful, it did not impart any more flavor than a basic salt water brine. Turkey may be low-cal, but this recipe wasn't. Given the slathering of butter and fresh herbs, I was disappointed that it didn't have a more "special taste". I enjoyed it but I wouldn't make it again.

I love trying new recipes when I have family and friends over for dinner. I tried the entire Thanksgiving menu for Canadian Thanksgiving. The brined turkey was spectacular. After I figured out the appropriate brining vessel to use (a 21 quart canner), it was a cinch. The flavour and the texture of the turkey was the best we have ever had. There were absolutley NO leftovers. The next day, I went out to buy a bigger canner for a bigger turkey at Christmastime.

Tried this recipe for a group of 8 on vacation. They all raved about the turkey and the gravy. Really was the best recipe I have ever tried for Thanksgiving turkey and will now be my standard.

Delicious!! Brining was not the ordeal I imagined it to be - I found brining bags at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Popped my turkey in that and then plaed it in the roasting pan and slid it into the fridge. Moist turkey and srumpy gravy!

Quote from my (picky) son after Canadian Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday: "Mom, that's the best turkey you've ever made." I used the brining method for the first time and I doubt I will cook a turkey any other way ever again. I used one of those gigantic Zip Loc bags to hold the turkey and brine. The herb butter was a great addition. I made more gravy than the recipe suggested (I used the entire recipe of Turkey Broth - about 6 cups plus the turkey drippings) but I used less Pinot Noir (about 1/2 cup) and it was very tasty.

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