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Champagne-Basted Turkey

Yield: about 1-1/2 cups turkey jus

Servings: 10 to 12

Chef Emily Brekke has used this foolproof method since she first roasted a turkey as a teenager. Once you try it this holiday, you’ll want to make it all the time for its crisp skin, juicy meat, and light flavor.


For the turkey

  • 2-3/4 oz. kosher salt (1/2 cup Diamond Crystal); more for seasoning
  • 1 head garlic, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • Assorted fresh herb sprigs (5 sprigs parsley, 5 thyme, 5 marjoram, 2 rosemary, or a similar mixture)
  • 1 medium bay leaf
  • 1 12- to 14-lb. turkey, giblets reserved
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 oz. (8 Tbs.) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 20 medium leaves fresh sage
  • 2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 medium ribs celery, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 medium yellow onion or large shallot, coarsely chopped (about 11/2 cups)
  • 1 medium lemon, halved
  • 1 cup lower-salt chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry Champagne or other sparkling white wine

For the Champagne-turkey jus

  • 1 cup dry Champagne or other dry sparkling wine; more as needed
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium rib celery, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 490
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 220
  • Fat (g): 24
  • Saturated Fat (g): 10
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8
  • Cholesterol (mg): 265
  • Sodium (mg): 550
  • Carbohydrates (g): 1
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Sugar (g): 0
  • Protein (g): 64


Brine and roast the turkey

  • In a large stockpot, combine 2 quarts water with the salt, garlic, herbs, and bay leaf, and bring to a boil over high heat. Let cool completely. Immerse the turkey in the brine, and refrigerate overnight, rotating the turkey occasionally to ensure that the entire bird comes in contact with the brine. Remove the turkey from the brine, and pat dry with paper towels; let the turkey air-dry on a rack over a large rimmed baking sheet.
  • Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven, and heat the oven to 450°F.
  • Generously season the turkey all over with 1 Tbs. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Then, using your hands and starting with the turkey legs facing you, gently loosen the skin from the breast and thighs. Pat the flesh dry with paper towels. Scoop some of the butter in your hands, and spread it under the skin, coating the flesh as evenly as possible; reserve any remaining butter. Slide the sage leaves under the skin of the breast.
  • Stuff the turkey with the carrot, celery, onion, lemon, and any leftover butter and sage. Lightly tie the legs, tuck the wings behind the back, and set the turkey breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan. In a small bowl, combine the stock and Champagne; pour over the turkey and allow to collect in the pan. Add the giblets to the pan.
  • Roast for about 35 minutes. Remove the giblets  from the pan, and set aside for the jus. Reduce the heat to 325°F, and basting every 30 minutes, roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 165°F, about 3 hours. (If the turkey is becoming too dark, loosely tent with aluminum foil for the remainder of roasting.) Once done, remove the turkey and let rest, covered, for 30 minutes while you make the jus.

Make the jus

  • Drain the juices from the turkey-roasting pan into a glass measuring cup (you should have about 2 cups). Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium heat, and add a bit of the Champagne to deglaze the pan, making sure to scrape up the bits from the pan’s bottom. Cook, stirring, until the pan is almost completely dry. Skim the fat from the juices.
  • Add the carrot, onion, and celery, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to brown, about 4 minutes. Pour in the remaining Champagne, and deglaze the pan, scraping the bits from the bottom. Add the giblets, bring to a simmer, and reduce by half or to your desired consistency, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, and transfer to a gravy boat. (Alternatively, if you leave the giblets in larger pieces during cooking, you may remove and discard them and serve the jus with the finely chopped vegetables.)
  • Carve and serve the turkey with the jus.


Rate or Review

Reviews (2 reviews)

  • Nanamw | 10/17/2019

    I don't want to think how many decades I've been cooking turkeys, but I tried this recipe this year and it is hands down the best turkey I've ever made. Even my husband who doesn't like turkey raved about this one and made me promise to make it again.
    Fabulous recipe.

  • mrovelli | 11/06/2018

    Not a review (yet!), but the instructions for the jus is missing something. I think that one adds the defatted pan juices back to the pan after the champagne deglazing, when the giblets are added back, right?

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