I’ve been making this maple roasted turkey for the last four or five years for our Thanksgiving dinner. I used to love changing up ingredients and making something new each year, then I did this recipe from an issue of Bon Appetit magazine and everything changed. The article was a charming tale of how Tyler Florence made this for the holiday with his son during a period when he found himself single again; well, Tyler is no longer single but I’m still making this bird! it is simply an amazing, moist and wonderfully flavored star of our Thanksgiving meal.
It’s such a perfect combination of things I love; the fresh sage still available from our garden in the fall is added to butter that is rubbed on the turkey and used in a fabulous cornbread stuffing. Combining the maple glaze and the basting with bacon and all that flavor combined in a gravy that goes over cornbread stuffing…SO good! I tried something a bit different after the first year because I was unhappy with how the maple drippings would burn in the bottom of the roasting pan, so I added some chicken stock to the pan and that worked beautifully. Not only did the maple syrup mixture not burn but I think the steam that is created is just one more component that results in this amazingly moist bird.
I admit I once tried adding a bit of jalapeno to the stuffing for just a slight bit of heat and as much as I usually love cornbread with jalapeno, I won’t do that again…I much preferred having the fresh sage be predominate in this amazing dish that, yes, we will be making again this year! Welcome to our Thanksgiving table!
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ bunch fresh sage, leaves finely chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 1 loaf cornbread, cubed (about 6 cups)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 (12 to 14 pound) fresh turkey
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup hot water
- 8 strips smoked bacon
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 4-6 cups chicken stock (some will be used in the pan during cooking and the remainder for making gravy
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and remove the top rack.
- Combine the butter and sage in a mixing bowl, mash with a fork or spoon until the sage is well incorporated and the butter has flecks of green in it; season with salt and pepper.
- In a sauté pan, melt 4 tablespoons of the sage butter, add the onions, cook and stir for 15 minutes until soft and golden. Remove from heat. Put the cornbread in a large mixing bowl and scrape the sautéed onion mixture on top. Add the egg, heavy cream and just enough chicken stock to moisten the stuffing without making it soggy (about ½ cup.) Toss well to combine, season with salt and pepper.
- Remove the neck and gizzards from the inside of the turkey and discard. Rinse the bird thoroughly inside and out with cold water, pat dry. Sprinkle the cavity and skin liberally with salt and pepper. Using your fingers, gently lift the skin from the breast and legs, and slip pieces of the sage butter underneath; massaging it in as you go.
- I cook my stuffing in a separate dish; keeping the inside of the turkey empty has it cook faster but that's just personal preference, if you like to stuff the cavity you'll probably have enough to fill a small buttered casserole dish as well.
- Truss the turkey; place it on a rack in a large roasting pan, pour 2-3 cups of chicken stock into bottom of roaster and put into the oven (replenish as needed to keep liquid in bottom of pan to keep the combination of maple and bacon drippings from burning; I think the steam heat is another benefit to keeping the bird moist!).
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and hot water to thin the glaze out a bit; use this to baste the turkey every 30 minutes. The turkey should take about 3 hours to cook (i.e. 15 to 20 minutes per pound.) If the legs or breast brown too quickly, cover with foil. About 2 hours into cooking, shingle the strips of bacon oven the turkey breast to cover; continue to roast and baste for another hour or so.
- The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of the thigh registers 170 degrees F (the thigh juices will also run clear when pricked with a knife.) Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes before carving, so the juices can settle back into the meat.
- Skim off the excess fat from the pan drippings with a spoon and place the roasting pan over 2 burners set on medium-high heat. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits stuck to bottom of pan. Whisk the flour into the drippings, stirring as it thickens to prevent lumps. Add enough chicken stock for a gravy consistency and bring to a simmer; season with salt and pepper and hit it with a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavor. Simmer for 5 minutes and then strain if desired to remove any particles (I don't do this...I'll hit it with a stick blender to smooth, much easier and less messy!).
- Serve the gravy with the maple-roasted turkey and cornbread stuffing.