Three Weeks Until Thanksgiving-Start Thinking Turkey

November 6, 2008

Roast Turkey with Truffle Gravy from Cooking Light

It’s only 3 weeks until Thanksgiving, and I don’t know about you but I will be hosting it at my house. I usually do it every year, and if I plan ahead, I won’t have to stress at all. For the next few weeks I will feature a number of entries to focus on Thanksgiving, and I thought I would begin with turkey. I followed Martha Stewart’s method for using a cheesecloth back in 1997 when I developed my turkey recipe below for Christmas with Southern Living Cookbook. It has been a family favorite ever since.


Orange-Glazed Roasted Turkey

The cheesecloth covering on this turkey acts as a blanket that locks in juices. The roasted results are incredibly moist.

Yield 10 servings



1 1/2  cups  orange juice

1  (12-pound) turkey

Salt and pepper

3  tablespoons  vegetable oil

1 1/2  cups  chicken or turkey broth

1/2  cup  butter or margarine, melted

1/4  cup  orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier) or orange marmalade

3  tablespoons  honey

2  teaspoons  grated orange rind

1  tablespoon  coarse-grained mustard

Garnishes: flowering kale, baby artichokes, red grapes


Cut a 36″ length of cheesecloth; unfold to a single layer (measuring 36″ square). Fold cheesecloth in half crosswise; fold in half lengthwise to make an 18″ square. Pour orange juice into a small bowl; submerge cheesecloth square in orange juice, and let soak 5 minutes.

Remove giblets and neck from turkey; reserve for making homemade broth, if desired. Rinse turkey thoroughly with cold water; pat dry. Sprinkle cavity with salt and pepper. Place turkey, breast side up, in a greased broiler pan. Tie legs together with heavy string, or tuck them under flap of skin; wrap a small piece of aluminum foil around ends of legs. Lift wingtips up and over back, and tuck under bird. Brush turkey with oil; add broth to pan.

Lift cheesecloth out of orange juice, and squeeze lightly, leaving it very damp; reserve orange juice in bowl. Add butter and next 4 ingredients to orange juice; stir well. Brush turkey lightly with orange glaze mixture. Unfold cheesecloth to 18″ square. Spread cheesecloth over most of turkey, covering legs and wings. Brush cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with orange glaze mixture; pour remaining glaze over covered breast of turkey.

Insert a meat thermometer into meaty portion of thigh, making sure it does not touch bone. Bake at 325° on bottom oven rack until thermometer registers 170° (2 1/2 to 3 hours), basting cheesecloth and exposed areas of turkey every 30 minutes with pan juices. (Cheesecloth will become very brown as turkey roasts.)

Carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Cut string holding legs together; remove small piece of aluminum foil. Baste turkey heavily with pan drippings. Bake turkey at 325° for 30 additional minutes or until thermometer registers 180°, basting heavily with pan drippings every 10 minutes. (Turkey skin can overbrown easily, so watch carefully.)

When turkey is done, let stand in pan 15 minutes; then carefully transfer to a serving platter. Brush again with pan drippings; reserve remaining pan drippings for Pan Gravy. Cover turkey with foil while preparing gravy. Garnish platter with kale, baby artichokes and red grapes, if desired. Serve turkey with Pan Gravy.

Note: If you are using a larger or smaller turkey, adjust roasting time accordingly, and remove cheesecloth for the last 30 minutes of roasting. The turkey browns quickly after removing cheesecloth, so baste often at that point.

Christmas with Southern Living 1997, Oxmoor House, JANUARY 1997

Here were Martha’s instructions:

Cover the turkey with cheesecloth that has been soaking in butter and wine; the cloth should cover the breast and part of the leg area. Make sure the cheesecloth never dries out or comes into contact with the inside walls of the oven; in either situation, it may ignite. 

 Every 30 minutes, use a pastry brush (better than a bulb baster) to baste the cheesecloth and exposed area of the turkey with the butter-and-wine mixture. (The turkey pictured here is out of the oven, but basting should be done in the oven and as quickly as possible, so the oven temperature doesn’t drop.) Watch the pan juices; if they are in danger of overflowing, spoon them out and reserve them for the gravy.After the third hour of cooking, take the turkey out of the oven. Carefully remove the cheesecloth, which will have turned quite brown, and discard it. Baste the turkey with pan juices, taking care not to tear the skin, and return it to the oven.       






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