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Herbed Turkey Roasted in Parchment

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Herbed Turkey Roasted in Parchment

Photo by Ty Mecham
Author Notes

A dry turkey might just be the most common Thanksgiving complaint in the book—but it doesn’t have to be. When you roast the turkey en papillote, the French technique of cooking in a packet (similar to how many Asian cultures wrap and steam food in large leaves), you let a roasting bag do all the work. Instead of basting, the roasting bag locks in moisture and flavor while the turkey slowly steams to juicy perfection (about 12 minutes per pound). Once the bird is steamed, simply bump up the heat, cut the roasting bag open, and give the bird a final hot blast for 45 minutes to get extra-crispy skin. The whole bird comes together with a silky gravy made from the turkey’s own juices, plus roasted giblets and turkey neck, if that’s your style. —Hana Asbrink

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is featured in the story, A Foolproof Method for Juicy (Not-Dry!) Roast Turkey, sponsored by If You Care. —The Editors

  • Test Kitchen-Approved
  • Prep time
    1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook time
    3 hours
  • Serves
    8 to 10
  • For the turkey:

  • 1

    (12 to 14-pound) turkey

  • 1 packet

    giblets and turkey neck, optional for gravy

  • 1

    stick (4 ounces) butter, softened to room temperature

  • 7

    garlic cloves, divided (2 to 4 garlic cloves, crushed and made into a paste with a pinch of salt; plus, 2 to 3 additional cloves, crushed for the cavity)

  • 1 teaspoon

    lemon zest

  • 8 sprigs

    fresh thyme, divided

  • 3 sprigs

    rosemary, divided

  • 6 sprigs

    fresh sage leaves, divided

  • 1 dash

    kosher salt, to taste

  • 1 dash

    freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1

    lemon, halved

  • 1

    small onion, peeled and quartered

  • For the gravy:

  • 1/2 ounce

    stick (2 ounces) butter

  • 1/4 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 cups

    turkey juices from roasting bag (will differ, depending on turkey size)

  • 4 to 5 cups

    low-sodium turkey or chicken stock

  • 1 dash

    kosher salt, to taste

  • 1 dash

    freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Roasted giblets and turkey neck, if using

  1. Make compound butter: Remove leaves from 4 thyme sprigs and 1 rosemary sprig and finely chop. Roll up 3 sage leaves and finely chop. In a small bowl, combine butter, garlic paste, lemon zest, and chopped herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Can be made up to 5 days ahead.
  2. When you’re ready to cook the turkey: Preheat the oven to 325°F, setting a rack in the lower third (larger turkeys should go on the lowest rack).
  3. Prep the turkey: Place the turkey on a large, clean work surface. Remove giblets and neck, and pat dry with paper towels inside and out. Slide hand between skin and breast meat to loosen skin. Rub the compound butter over breast meat, under the skin. Do the same with the leg and thigh meat sections. Shower the turkey inside and out with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Stuff the cavity with the lemon, onion, remaining garlic cloves, and remaining herbs. Truss the legs and pin or tuck in the wings.
  4. Fit a rack (flat, not V-shaped) into a roasting pan. Place the roasting bag (seam side up) on top of the rack. Place turkey in the center of the roasting bag, leaving some room at the bottom of the bag. Fans of gravy with giblets and neck meat can toss the turkey neck and giblets (removed from their pouch) into the bag as well. Close the roasting bag by rolling upward and inwards towards the turkey.
  5. Roast for 2 hours and 15 minutes (for a 12-pound bird), up to 2 hours and 45 minutes for a 14-pound bird. It should take approximately 12 minutes per pound.
  6. Remove turkey from the oven, and raise oven temperature to 425°F. Carefully unfold the bag, being careful of the hot steam. Use scissors to cut down the seam, and then horizontally across the short end. Alternately (and as shown in the photo), you can carefully cut an X into the top of the bag (watch the steam) without unrolling the bag.
  7. Roll down roasting bag so that the turkey skin is exposed on all sides (so we get crispy skin!). Return to the oven and roast, uncovered, until the internal breast temperature reaches 165°F and the skin is a nice golden brown, about 45 minutes more.
  8. Remove just the turkey from the roasting pan, onto a large cutting board, and loosely tent with foil. Allow to rest for 30 to 45 minutes. As the turkey rests, carryover cooking will increase the meat temperature a bit more, about 5° to 15°F. Remove the trussing string and discard aromatic vegetables and herbs inside the cavity, before carving and serving. If using the giblets and neck: Remove from the bag and let them cool for a bit before removing the meat from the bones and chopping the giblets to your liking.
  9. Meanwhile, make the gravy: Carefully tilt the bag to pour the juices (there should be a lot!) into the roaster. Discard the bag and remove the rack. Carefully pour the juices in the pan into a small pot or measuring cup. Place the roasting pan over a stove burner on medium heat. Melt the butter. Once the butter is foaming, whisk in the flour. Once the mixture turns a golden color, slowly add the juices from the turkey bag, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Slowly add stock and keep whisking until gravy thickens, about 5 minutes. If you’re using the giblets and turkey neck meat, you can stir it in now. Simmer and add more stock, to your liking, for another few minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve right away.

Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.

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