Turkey with Roasted Onion and Shallot Gravy 

Adapted from Bon Appetit, November 1994

(serves 12)


Standing the test of time
This has been our turkey recipe for over 20 years.  Seriously,  the original pages torn out of Bon Appetit are still in our recipe file.  It was an instant hit, not only because it was easy to make, but because it was (and still is) delicious.  Through the years, we’ve simplified and adapted a few of the steps.  The sweetness of the glaze, the savoriness of the onions and shallots and the aromatics of the herbs are tastes that linger in our minds throughout the year.


3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 Tbsp dried
3 Tbsp chopped fresh sage or 1 Tbsp dried
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

2 Tbsp (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
3 large onions (about 2 lbs), thinly sliced
6 large shallots (about 6 oz), thinly sliced

1 cup apricot nectar
1 cup apricot preserves
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 Tbsp honey

1 12-16 pound turkey
2 cups low sodium chicken broth, more if needed
1 tsp fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
1/2 tsp fresh chopped sage or 1/4 tsp dried    

2 cups low sodium chicken broth, more if needed


Herb butter, onion mixture and glaze can be prepared 1 day ahead.  Bring herb butter to room temperature before proceeding.

HERB BUTTER:  Blend all ingredients in small bowl.  Set aside.

ONION MIXTURE:  Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add onions and shallots and sauté until very soft, about 15-20 minutes.  Set aside.

APRICOT GLAZE:  Combine all ingredients in heavy small saucepan and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened and reduced to 1-1/4 cups, about 15 minutes.

TURKEY:  Make sure that your turkey is completely defrosted if purchased frozen.  Leave on kitchen counter for about an hour before preparing/putting it into the oven.  Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.  Pat turkey dry with paper towels.  Season turkey cavity with salt and pepper.  Place turkey in large roasting pan.  Slide hand under skin of turkey breast to loosen skin.  Spread half of herb butter over breast, underneath skin.  Place remaining herb butter in a small saucepan.  Stir over low heat until melted.  Brush butter over outside of turkey.  Using butcher’s twine (or a twisted up piece of foil), tie legs of turkey together to loosely hold shape. 

Put turkey in the oven and roast for 30 minutes before reducing oven temperature to 325 degrees F.  Continue to roast turkey for 90 minutes, basting occasionally with pan drippings.  

Tent turkey with heavy-duty foil; roast 30 minutes longer.  Add onion mixture, broth, thyme and sage to bottom of pan.  Roast 15 minutes.

Bring apricot glaze to simmer.  Brush 1/2 cup glaze over turkey.  Continue to roast turkey uncovered until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 180 degrees F or until juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced with skewer.  Add more broth to pan (if liquid evaporates) and continue to brush occasionally with glaze until turkey is done.

Place turkey on a large platter, tent with foil.  Let stand for 30 minutes before carving.  Reserve mixture in pan for gravy.

Carefully pour contents of roasting pan into a strainer set over a large bowl.  Transfer onion mixture from strainer to a blender.  Add 1 cup pan juices and blend until smooth, adding more pan juices (and chicken broth if needed) to thin sauce to desired consistency.  Transfer sauce to heavy large saucepan and bring to boil for about five minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Serve turkey with gravy.

Cooking stuffing separately is a method we adopted long ago.  It simplifies the turkey roasting process as well as the entire meal preparation.  The bird goes into the oven first, and then you can focus on a stuffing of your choice and other side dishes while it cooks.


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