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Sage-Rubbed Turkey

Sage-Rubbed Turkey
For a moist, flavorful bird, always start with a fresh free-range turkey. When you carve the bird, arrange the white and dark meat separately so that guests will easily be able to find the cut they prefer at the buffet.

Ingredients:

  • For the sage rub:
  • 2 Tbs. coarse salt
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground sage
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh sage
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 turkey, about 12 lb., rinsed inside and out
     and patted dry with paper towels
  • 1 recipe bread and sausage stuffing
     (see related recipe at right)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

To make the sage rub, in a spice grinder, combine the salt, pepper, ground sage, chopped sage, garlic and lemon zest and grind until fine. Rub the sage mixture evenly over the skin and inside the neck and body cavities of the turkey. Place the bird on a baking sheet, cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Remove the turkey from the refrigerator about 1 hour before roasting it. Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 425°F.

Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Loosely stuff the neck and body cavities with the bread and sausage stuffing. Tuck the turkey's wings under to secure the neck skin, then loosely tie the legs together with kitchen string. Scatter the carrot, celery and onion pieces in a large, heavy roasting pan and add the wine. Place the bird, breast side up, on the vegetables.

Roast the turkey for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue roasting, basting with the pan juices every 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone, registers 175°F, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Transfer the turkey to a carving board and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the stock until simmering. Pour the juices from the roasting pan into a heatproof measuring pitcher. Skim off 3 Tbs. of the fat and return it to the roasting pan. Skim off and discard the remaining fat from the juices and pour the juices into the simmering stock. Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour while stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, scraping up any browned bits from the pan bottom. Add the hot stock in a slow, steady stream while whisking constantly to break up any lumps that form. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the gravy through a fine-mesh sieve into a warmed bowl for passing at the table.

Remove the trussing string from the turkey. Scoop the stuffing out of the cavities into a warmed large serving bowl. Carve the turkey and arrange the pieces on a warmed platter. Serve immediately.
Serves 8 to 10.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Entertaining, by George Dolese (Oxmoor House, 2004).