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Herb Brined, Free-Range Organic Roast Turkey with Port Wine Gravy


Herb Brined, Free-Range Organic Roast Turkey with Port Wine Gravy
Getty Images:by Flying Colors Ltd.
This whole foods recipe for herb brined, free-range organic roast turkey is pretty much a fail-safe recipe against the dreaded dry holiday bird. Brining followed by air-drying creates a crisp on the outside, juicy on the inside finish. Roasted vegetables and port wine make a lovely, full-bodied sauce. This is also a gluten free recipe, so it works perfectly for everyone who wants to eat turkey!

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 8-10 servings


  • 1 (12-14 pound) free-range, organic young turkey
  • For the brine:
  • 2 gallons very cold water
  • 1 cup coarse sea salt or Himalayan salt
  • ½ cup agave nectar or honey
  • 1 sweet onion, cut into 1” chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, cut into 1” chunks
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 branches of fresh rosemary
  • 4 branches of fresh thyme
  • 2 branches of fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • For the Aromatics and Gravy:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Giblets and neck from the turkey
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped fine
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder (optional)
  • 4 cups vegetable, turkey, or chicken broth or water
  • 2/3 cup port wine
  • Sea salt to taste


Two nights before cooking:
Mix together all brine ingredients in a cooler or bucket. Rinse the turkey inside and out and place it in the brine solution. Refrigerate the turkey and let it marinate overnight, turning once.
The night before cooking:
Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels and discard the brine.
Rub the turkey with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil Place the giblet, neck, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, shallot, and herbs in a roasting pan and toss with remaining olive oil. Insert a few of the chopped vegetables and one sprig of the rosemary and thyme into the cavity of the bird. Tuck the wings under the bird and tie the legs together over the breast to protect it while cooking. Place the turkey over the giblets and chopped vegetables.
Allow the turkey to sit UNCOVERED overnight in the refrigerator to air dry it so the skin will be crispy. Make sure no other raw food comes near the uncovered bird.
Cooking day:
Place the baking rack on the lowest level of the oven and preheat oven to 450’F.
Pour 1½ cups of broth into the bottom of the roasting pan. Roast the turkey for 40 minutes. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast; making sure it does not touch the bone. Reduce heat to 350’F. Roast the turkey for 2- 2 ½ hours, until the thermometer reads 160’. Remove the turkey from the oven. Place the bird on a platter and allow it to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.
Pour the pan juices into a bowl and skim off as much fat as possible. Discard the neck, giblets, bay leaves and herb branches. Place the roasting pan over two burners and turn heat to medium. Deglaze the pan with the port wine, scraping up any bits stuck to the pan. Add the remaining broth, and stir well.
Puree the gravy with a vertical blender. The roasted vegetables will give body to the sauce. If you desire thicker gravy, stir the arrowroot powder into 1/3 cup cold water. Quickly whisk the arrowroot mixture into the gravy, and cook until it has reached the desired thickness, about 4-5 minutes. Pour the gravy into a bowl or serving pitcher.
Carve the turkey and serve the sauce on the side.
Serves 8-10 with leftovers
Copyright 2010 by Jen Hoy
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