Apricot-Glazed Turkey with Caramelized Shallot Gravy

Dsc00233 Well, I’m sure that you were wondering when my turkey recipe would make its grand appearance.  You certainly didn’t think that I was going to leave it for Wednesday night, did you?  Of course this means that my husband will be eating turkey for breakfast, lunch, and dinner up until the time that we leave for our Thanksgiving trip, when he will start eating turkey all over again.  So you now understand the kinds of sacrifices that he must make so that my readers can have mouthwatering photos and helpful tips to go with my recipes.

I first made this turkey recipe three years ago for Thanksgiving, and as much as I like to experiment with new recipes, I have been using it ever since.   Fully roasted, this turkey looks like something out of Gourmet magazine with the beautiful color that the apricot glaze gives the skin.  The  gravy is unique in that there is no flour added at all, so you won’t need to worry about the problematic clumps that inevitably show up.  Because there is no flour, the caramelization of the onions and shallots really comes through, producing a richer and deeply flavored gravy with an element of sweetness added from the apricot glaze.  Don’t let the number of steps involved in this recipe scare you away.  As you will read below, most of it can be done ahead of time, and the recipe is so straightforward that you are practically guaranteed success!  No Butterball Hotline will be necessary this year! Here are my comments for this recipe:

  • Much of this recipe can be prepared ahead of time.  The glaze, herb butter, and onion mixture can all be prepared 1 day ahead of time.  Cover each of them separately and chill.  Bring the herb butter to room temperature before continuing.
  • Something that many people find confusing about the process of cooking a turkey is where exactly to stick the thermometer in order to test the temperature.   The picture below shows the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone.  To take stuffing temperature, the tip of the thermometer should be in the center of the body cavity.
  • If you don’t have a meat thermometer, another way to check if the turkey is ready is to pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a knife or skewer.  The turkey is ready if the juices runDsc00227  clear.
  • Apricot nectar can be found in the juice section of your grocery store, or sometimes in the health-foods aisle.  My grocery (Smith’s) sells it by the can, which is convenient for this recipe.  If you cannot find apricot nectar, you can substitute orange juice for a similar result.  It will still taste like apricot due to the preserves.
  • If you want to use dried herbs in place of the fresh ones for this recipe, use a 1:3 ration to determine the correct amount.  So, instead of 3 tablespoons of fresh thyme use 1 tablespoon of dried thyme, etc.
  • An alternative method of preparing the gravy, and one that eliminates a few steps, is to use an immersion or stick blender to puree it.  For more on the immersion blender, please see my post on Roasted Butternut Squash Soup from November 3.  For this method, after to move the roasted turkey to a cutting board to rest, you simply transfer the entire contents of the roasting pan to the large heavy saucepan.  Puree the mixture with your immersion blender, adding extra chicken stock to reach desired consistency.  Bring gravy to a boil until the color deepens, season, and serve.
  • For presentation, it’s nice to garnish the platter with some extra sprigs of fresh sage and thyme and, if you’re feeling especially “Martha-like”, a few fresh and dried apricots, to represent the flavors of the turkey.

Apricot-Glazed Turkey with Caramelized Shallot Gravy

Serves 16


Apricot Glaze

1 cup apricot nectar

1 cup apricot preserves

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon honey

Herb Butter

3/4 cup butter, room temperature

3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Onion Mixture

2 tablespoons butter

3 large onions (about 2 pounds), thinly sliced

6 large shallots, thinly sliced

Turkey and Gravy

1   21-22 pound turkey

2  14 1/2 ounce cans chicken broth

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

For the glaze:  Combine the nectar, preserves, ginger, and honey in a heavy small saucepan and bring it to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened and reduced to 1 1/4 cups, about 20 minutes.

For the herb butter:  Blend all of the ingredients in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Dsc00222 For the onion-shallot mixture:  Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and shallots and saute until very soft and light brown, about 20 minutes.  Set aside.

For the turkey:  Position the rack in the lowest third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400F degrees.  Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.  Season the turkey cavity with salt and pepper.  Place the turkey on a rack set in the large roasting pan.  Slide your hand under the skin of the turkey breast to loosen skin.  Spread half of the herb butter over the breast but under the skin.  If you are stuffing your turkey, spoon the stuffing into the main cavity.  Place the remaining herb butter in a small saucepan.  Stir over low heat until melted.  Brush the herb butter over the outside of the turkey.  Tie the legs together loosely with some twine to hold the shape of the turkey.

Roast the turkey for 30 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325F degrees.  Roast the turkey for 1 hour 30 minutes, basting occasionally with pan drippings.  Cover the breast of the turkey with foil (seen below); roast 45 minutes longer.  Add the reserved onion-shallot mixture, 1 can of broth, the thyme, and the sage to the pan.  Roast 15 minutes.   Bring the glaze to a simmer and brush 1/2 cup of the glaze over the turkey.  Continue to roast the turkey, uncovered, until the meatDsc00224  thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 180F degrees, brushing occasionally with glaze and adding more broth to the pan if the liquid evaporates, about 40 minutes longer for an unstuffed turkey and 1 hour for a stuffed turkey.  Place the turkey on a platter and tent it with foil.  Let the turkey stand for 30 minutes.  Reserve the onion-shallot mixture in the pan for the gravy.

For Gravy:  Pour contents of roasting pan into strainer set over a large bowl.  Spoon the fat from the pan juices in the bowl (they should rise to the top).  Transfer the onion mixture in the strainer to a blender.  Add one cup of the pan juices to the blender and puree until smooth, adding more pan juices and chicken broth if necessary to thin the sauce to the desired consistency.  Transfer the sauce to a heavy large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cook until the color deepens, skimming off any foam, about 5 minutes more.  Season with salt and pepper and serve with the turkey.

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