Sage Butter and Bay Roasted Turkey


prep 2:00       total 1 day



1 whole turkey (any size)
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup dried sage leaf
3 sprigs fresh sage
Fresh bay leaves or
dried (amount depends on size of turkey)
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
2 roughly chopped onions
2 carrots, broken up
2 stalks celery, broken up
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/8 qt. garlic (whole)
1/4 cup diced parsley
1 bunch parsley
2 cans (1 lb. each) chicken or
turkey broth
Cooking twine


Put the turkey in the sink, and start running cold water over it. Remove the extra pieces, they’re most likely in a bag, and set these aside; you can use them later, if you want. Run water through the turkey cavity, and be sure it’s super clean. If the turkey has a metal contraption holding the legs together, remove it.

Move the turkey to a cutting board, and let it dry off for a little bit. Now, start massaging the turkey. The goal of this is to loosen the skin, so that it slides easily around the meat. Next, take your knife, and at the back of the turkey, make two incisions on each side of the spine, just under the skin, so that you have access to the area between the skin and the meat. I like to run a long spoon under the skin through the incisions at this time, just to be sure that the skin is fully separated from the meat, but be sure it is still intact around the rest of the turkey.

Now, get out your mixer, I prefer a Kitchen-Aid, or other heavy duty mixer, but if you have to, you’re going to have to go by hand. In the bowl, combine the two sticks of butter, dried sage, ¼ cup chopped parsley, ¼ cup finely chopped onion, and the chopped garlic. Start mixing until it is creamed, and look at it, you want a nice even mixture of sage and butter, if you need to, add a little more sage, it’s pretty hard to overdo it, just don’t make dough, add a tablespoon at a time.

Use a spoon to scoop up the sage-butter mixture, and slide it under the skin of the turkey, then slide it off the spoon by pressing down on the skin, and sliding out the spoon. Keep repeating this process until the entire breast area is filled with most of the butter. Repeat this process with the legs. Massaging the turkey will help to squeeze the butter mixture into areas that you can reach. Slide the bay leaves under the skin, pushing on the skin to maneuver them around. I like to place them about 3 inches apart.

Put the turkey into a strainer. Place the strainer in the sink. Take 2 cups of boiling water and pour it over the turkey very quickly; I prefer to use a ladle to do this, so I don’t burn myself. You should see the skin of the turkey tighten up, a lot like shrink-wrap. Move the turkey back to the cutting board. It should be dried by now.

For turkey gravy (prepared later), stuff the turkey with the onion, some bay leaves, parsley, garlic cloves, celery, carrots, and the left over sage butter, throw in any other herbs that you like also. Take the hind legs, and the little flap that hangs down the back, and tie them together using the cooking twine. This should seal off the inside of the turkey. Lay the turkey into the roasting pan, cover, and toss in the refrigerator.

You can start preparing other things now, but be sure to set your alarm for 3:00 A.M the next morning, and go to sleep early. I would suggest setting the auto-start timer on your coffee machine also.

Place the baking tiles or pizza stone in your oven and preheat to 300°F. 325°F if you over-slept, but, the lower the temperature, the better (better to slow-cook the turkey). Remove the turkey from the refrigerator, and remove the plastic piece (that tells you it's done) and throw it away. Insert the turkey probe thermometer through the turkey thigh (where the plastic thermometer was). Pour the broth cans into the bottom of the pan.

Unroll enough aluminum foil to cover the roaster. Cover the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil, SHINY SIDE UP! The shiny side will reflect heat away from the top of turkey, preventing a brown crisp skin, with a raw turkey hiding underneath (remember to thread the cord for your probe thermometer under the foil). Place the turkey in the oven, and set your thermometer to go off at 175°F. Baste the turkey thoroughly every hour or so, and be prepared to wait. We’re slow cooking it, and steaming it. This will give us a nice, juicy turkey, full of flavor, but it takes time.

When the turkey reaches 175°F, slide the turkey out of the oven, and increase the temperature to 350°F. Remove the aluminum foil. Now, we are going to crisp the turkey. Baste the turkey fully, sucking off the top juices, so you get more butter. Lay more aluminum foil over the turkey, SHINY SIDE DOWN! Remember how the shiny side works, we want to direct heat at the turkey now, leave to ends of the pan open, so steam can escape, and put the turkey back in the oven. Watch your thermometer, and keep an eye on the turkey.

When we hit 178°F, remove it from the oven. Suck all of the liquid off from the bottom of the pan, and put the foil back on the turkey (shiny side down), and set it aside. Seperate the fat from the liquid. Next, pour the juices into a saucepan, and cook at a slow boil, and reduce in half. Once down to half, you can mix some of the juice with cornstarch, or make a roux:

Place 3 tablespoons butter into a pot; bring butter to boiling and turn off heat. Wait until the butter stops boiling and mix in 3 tablespoons of juices and 2 tablespoons of milk. Slowly whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour. Whisk until clumps are removed and roux begins to brown, then add the reducked stock. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce the heat, and let simmer. It should thicken up as it stands.

Move the turkey to a cutting board, carve and serve!

Author's Comments

I would recommend that you get started about noon the day before Thanksgiving, this could take a while, and you don’t want to fall asleep before you get to eat.

Remember that you have Bay leaves in your turkey, and let your guests know.

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