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Deconstructing the Thanksgiving Turkey

Maybe you're not having a house full for Thanksgiving this year.  Or you don't feel like going through the whole production of roasting a large turkey.  But you want to have just as delicious a Thanksgiving, that you are used to having. This recipe is a winner!  Cooking just the breast and the parts will save you a lot of time, which you can otherwise use to do alternative things instead.  Brining is key to turning out a turkey that is super moist and delicious.  You may never go back to the way you did it before.

Enjoy, and we wish you a very happy, safe and joyous Thanksgiving.

  1. To brine turkey:
    • 1 (6 1/2 to 7 pound) turkey breast on the bone
    • 3 turkey drumsticks (about 2 1/4 pounds total)
    • 2 turkey thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
    • 1/4 cup kosher salt
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 1 head garlic, cut in half (do not peel)
    • 2 dried bay leaves
    • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 2 large whole sprigs fresh sage
    • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
    • 2 teaspoons allspice berries
    • 1/4 cup fresh celery leaves (from 1 bunch)
  2. To roast turkey:
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    • Leaves from 2 large sprigs sage, plus several whole sprigs for garnish
  3. For gravy:
    • 2 to 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
    • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • Kosher salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Brine turkey:
    1. Rinse turkey parts and place in doubled 2 1/2-gallon resealable plastic bags (or large stockpot). Add salt, honey, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, sage, peppercorns, allspice, and celery leaves. Add enough cold water to cover turkey — about 3 quarts. Press out air, close bags, and place in large bowl or other container to protect against leaks. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Roast turkey:
    1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven.
    2. Remove turkey parts from brine, pat dry with paper towels, and place, skin side up, on racks set in 2 medium roasting pans (be sure to leave space between parts for air circulation). Pour 1 cup water into each pan. Drizzle turkey parts with melted butter and scatter with sage leaves. Place 1 pan on each oven rack and roast until beginning to brown, about 30 minutes.
    3. Lower heat to 400°F, switch positions of pans, and rotate each pan 180°. Continue roasting until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast, avoiding bone, registers 165°, about 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Transfer turkey parts to platter and tent with foil.
  3. Make gravy:
    1. Pour pan juices into 4-cup glass measuring cup, let stand until fat rises to top, 2 to 3 minutes, then skim off and reserve fat.
    2. Set 1 roasting pan across 2 burners, add 2 cups chicken broth, and bring to simmer over moderately high heat, scraping up any browned bits. Add simmering broth to pan juices in measuring cup, then add additional chicken broth, if needed, to equal 4 cups liquid.
    3. In medium saucepan over moderately low heat, melt butter, then whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth, approximately 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in broth mixture and any collected juices from platter holding turkey, then raise heat to moderately high and boil mixture, uncovered, until thickened, about 8 minutes.
    4. Season gravy with salt and pepper to taste. Carve turkey pieces and garnish with sage; serve with gravy.


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