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Flavorful Fridays: Thanksgiving Turkey

November 20, 2009

On Sunday, I entered a new phase of domesticity. I cooked a full American Thanksgiving meal for the first time in my life. I know, I was almost two weeks early, but you see, next week, my Nonna and my mother will be cooking our family’s Thanksgiving meal, and while I will most certainly help, it will not be my responsibility to orchestrate a perfectly cooked and timed Thanksgiving meal. So, on Sunday, I set out to create the perfect Thanksgiving meal for my husband and some of our friends–a 15-pound turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, and pumpkin pie. It took several hours, and some help from my husband and my friend Jill, but we finally sat down to an early Thanksgiving dinner.

I believe my first attempt at cooking a turkey was successful. Everyone enjoyed the flavor and it was moist and not dry (yay!). I’ve provided the recipe below for an Italian-American style turkey that you can try for your own Thanksgiving meal. The sage and Parmesan butter rub provides a subtle flavor to the meat that pairs well with the other dishes appearing on your table–whether it’s American mashed potatoes, or the Italian American tortellini in brodo (tortellini in broth), which is what my family usually eats with our Thanksgiving turkey.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light Magazine.

Parmesan-Sage Roast Turkey with Sage Gravy


3-1/2 cups roughly chopped onion

1-1/2 cups roughly chopped celery

1-1/2 cups roughly chopped carrots

12 whole garlic cloves

1 fresh turkey (~15 lbs.)

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

5 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage

3 Tablespoons butter, softened

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, halved

3 cups chicken broth

1/3 cup chopped shallots

1 cup dry white wine

1/4 flour

1/4 cup water


Preheat over to 425 degrees. Place chopped onions, celery, carrots, and garlic cloves in the bottom of a roasting pan (if not using a nonstick pan, coat pan with cooking spray before placing vegetables inside). Remove giblets and neck from turkey. Place in roasting pan breast-side up. Gently loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers between the skin and meat. Tuck wing tips under turkey.

Combine Parmesan cheese, 4 Tablespoons of chopped sage, butter, minced garlic, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper; rub mixture under loosened skin and over breast and drumsticks. Rub turkey skin with cut sides of lemon, squeezing slightly to allow some juice out. Place lemon halves in turkey cavity. Rub a little butter mixture on skin as well. Fasten legs together with kitchen string or kitchen pins.

Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Pour 2-1/2 cups of broth over turkey. Tent turkey breast loosely with foil. Bake an additional 30 minutes.

Without removing turkey from oven, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake for 1-1/2 hours or until a thermometer (inserted into the thigh) reads 165 degrees, basting every 30 minutes. Remove turkey from oven. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before carving.

For gravy: Transfer liquid from bottom of the roasting pan to bowl and add 1/2 cup broth. In a saucepan, saute shallots over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add white wine and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in 1 Tablespoon sage. Add liquid broth mixture from bowl and bring to a boil. Combine water and flour, whisking together before adding to saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened (approximately 3 minutes). Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Serve with turkey and enjoy your meal!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Julie permalink
    November 25, 2009 5:23 pm

    Nice 1st turkey! Good job making it moist! I think that’s the main objective. This year one of my co-workers is deep frying our turkey! I’m excited to taste it. I’ve heard good things about it. See you soon!


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