How To Cook A Turkey And Gravy

cooked turkey 2 plated

It is really quite easy to cook a turkey and with Thanksgiving right around the corner, what a better time to learn!

If your cooking for the family and friends, the anxiety has already started. Right?

You want to present them with the best Thanksgiving turkey they’ve ever tasted, but it can be quite a challenge putting it all together and still being able to enjoy the experience.

When Thanksgiving rolls around every year, I always remember the words of Erma Bombeck –

“What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving”? -Erma Bombeck (1927-1996)

So just relax and have a glass of wine while cooking. Enjoy the cooking experience. And remember, this is the day you get to impress your guests and of course EAT, EAT, EAT!

I want to share with you a dry-brined method for roasting your turkey, along with a wonderful gravy.

Just wait until you try the recipe you find below. I predict it will become your standard Thanksgiving Day recipe for years to come – possible generations. Really!

Dry-Brined Roasted Turkey

  • 1 10 to 12 pound turkey
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 2 medium to large yellow onions, unpeeled and cut into eighths
  • 2 medium carrots, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 medium ribs celery, cut into 1-inch chunks


The night before cooking: remove the giblets from the turkey, cut off the tail, if attached, and reserve them for making the turkey broth.

Rinse the turkey thoroughly.

Sprinkle the turkey with 1/2 cup kosher salt all over. Starting on the back side, then the cavity, and finally the breast. Put the turkey on a wire rack set over a rimmed pan or platter and refrigerate uncovered overnight.

dry brined turkey

One hour before roasting: Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes before roasting, position a rack in the lowest part of the oven and heat the oven to 400F.

Let’s talk about the equipment you must have to roast a turkey. The first is a roasting pan. I love All-Clad pots and pans, but I realize an All-Clad roasting pan is quite costly. Let me suggest this Calphalon roasting pan which is much more reasonable. I use my pan for chickens, hams and also on top of the stove as a large pot/pan when cooking for a crowd. A good investment for sure.! The next piece of equipment is a digital thermometer.

Put half of the onions, carrots, and celery in the turkey cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Tuck the wings behind the neck and under the turkey. Scatter the remaining onions, carrots, and celery in the roasting pan fitted with a large V- rack. Set the turkey, breast side down, on the V-rack.

pre-cooked turkey

Roast for 30 minutes. Then pour 1 cup of water into the roasting pan and roast for another 30 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven and close the oven door. With two wads of paper towels, carefully turn the turkey over so that it’s breast side up.

turned turkey

Add another 1 cup water to the roasting pan. Return the turkey to the oven with the thermometer probe inserted in the thigh and set for 170F. Roast until the thermometer reaches 170F.

Keep a close eye on the vegetables and pan drippings throughout the cooking process. They should be kept dry enough to brown and produce the rich brown drippings to make gravy, but moist enough to keep from burning, so add water as needed throughout..

If the turkey starts getting too brown, gently cover with aluminum foil. Remove the foil at 165F and let brown the last 5 degrees.

Transfer the turkey to a carving board or platter, tent with foil, and let rest for at least 45 minutes and up to 1 hour before carving and serving.

Meanwhile, make the gravy from the drippings. First you will need to make a rich turkey broth. (I alway make this a day ahead of time, refrigerate, and skim off the fat before preparing the gravy).

Turkey Broth

  • 2 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • Giblets, neck, and tail from the turkey (discard liver)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped


Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the giblets, neck, tail pieces, and onion.

turkey broth ingredients

Saute until the giblets lose their raw color and the onion softens and begins to brown, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes; the turkey parts will release a lot of liquid.

Add 1 quart water, bring to a boil, partially cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium low or low, and simmer gently until the broth is flavorful, about another 30 minutes.

Strain the broth into a 1 quart heatproof measuring cup. Set aside.

Now for the delicious gravy.

Turkey Pan Gravy

  • Drippings and vegetables from Dry-Brined Turkey
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 2 1/2 cups Turkey Broth
  • 2 teaspoons lightly chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


Set the roasting pan with the turkey drippings and vegetables over two burners set on medium high.

Add the Cognac, vermouth, and 1/2 cup of the turkey broth; cook stirring with a wooden spoon or wooden spatula to loosen the browned bits in the pan, until the liquid comes to a simmer.

Strain the contents of the roasting pan through a large sieve and into a large saucepan. Add the remaining 2 cups turkey broth and the thyme to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat,

turkey gravy

reduce the heat and let simmer to blend the flavors, about 5 minutes.

Add the cream and stir.

Make a paste in a small bowl with the butter and flour. Gently spoon in a little of the flour/butter mixture and whisk to thicken. If the gravy needs to be thicker, add a little more of the paste and whisk the gravy to desired consistency.

Taste for seasoning. If the gravy becomes too thick, just add a little more broth and simmer. Keep hot until ready to serve.

turkey and dressing plated 2

So there you have it! An easy to cook turkey with a delicious gravy.