GobbleFest 2015: Roast Turkey
20 Dec 2015

GobbleFest 2015: Roast Turkey

20 Dec 2015

I’ve been meaning to try roasting my own turkey for a while now.  At our last GobbleFest I only made the sides and we bought our turkey from Turkey Point Cafe, which has since closed shop.  The years after that there were issues getting halal turkey, and there was one year when all the suppliers just decided to protest and not import turkeys at all.  This year, finally we are seeing an abundance of imported and local halal turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas (Cold Storage was selling them for RM29.90/ kg at one point and I missed out – darn!), and I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity again.  GobbleFest 2015 is on! The menu:

Roast Turkey | Creamy Cauliflower and Bacon Soup | Mashed Potatoes | Brown Butter Cornbread | Classic Sausage Stuffing

Handling a turkey was definitely interesting; I underestimated the effort it took even to just cart it around the kitchen, and butterflying it wasn’t as straightforward as it is with chicken, with random hard-to-cut bones along the backbone I had to manoeuvre around with my kitchen shears.  When roasting, I should’ve followed my gut and tested it for doneness instead of following the recipe cooking time too faithfully, so I ended up with a slightly overcooked turkey.  Nonetheless, butterflying the turkey and cooking at a high temperature created such crispy skin and cooked the turkey super-fast, so this is the only way I’ll roast my turkey.  Brining the turkey gave it amazing flavor, which makes this recipe a keeper.  All in all it was an amazing experience, and I can’t wait for next year’s Gobblefest!

Based on the recipes by Ree Drummond and SeriousEats.

Recipe and photos updated 25 Dec 2016.

Roast Turkey


  • 4 liters water
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 3/4 cups coarse salt
  • 1 cup red sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 4 oranges, 2 zested and 2 peeled, white pith removed, skin and flesh roughly chopped
  • 1 (12- to 14-pound/5.5 to 6.5 kg) fresh turkey
  • 9 tablespoons (about 130 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 3 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 12 thyme sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 chicken stock cubes diluted in 1.5 liters hot water
  • 4 tablespoons flour



Combine the water, apple juice, salt, red sugar, garlic, 3 bay leaves, peppercorns, dried rosemary, orange flesh and peel in a large pot and bring to a boil.

Turn off the heat immediately, cover, and allow mixture to come to room temperature. Cool mixture in the fridge until you’re ready.

To brine the turkey, remove the turkey from its wrapper, remove interior bags containing giblets (set aside  and refrigerate), remove any plastic pegs and parts, and rinse turkey thoroughly under cool tap water.

Place the turkey, breast-side down, into a very large pot (make sure it can fit in your fridge!).  Pour the cooled brine mixture over the top, adding extra cold water if you need more to completely cover the turkey.

Cover the pot, and allow the turkey to brine in the refrigerator for 16 to 24 hours before roasting.

Before roasting, remove the turkey from brine and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Then soak in a sink full of fresh water for 15 to 20 minutes.  Discard brine. (This soaking process will decrease the likelihood of too-salty gravy).


Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, and preheat the oven 230 degrees C (210 degrees C fan).

Line a large roasting pan with aluminium foil.  Scatter two-thirds of the onions, carrots, celery and thyme sprigs across the bottom of the pan.  Place a wire rack directly on top of the vegetables.


While soaking the turkey, make the butter mixture.  Mix 6 tablespoons of softened butter with the rosemary and orange zest.

Using kitchen shears, butterfly the turkey and trim any excess fat.  Reserve the neck, backbone, and giblets for making the gravy.

Place the turkey on top of the wire rack, arranging so that it does not overlap the edges, pressing down on the breast bone to flatten the breasts slightly.  Tuck in the wing tips behind the back.  Pat the turkey dry using paper towels.

Rub the herb butter mixture evenly all over the turkey inside and out, going under the skin where possible.

Transfer the turkey to the oven and roast, until an instant read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the breast registers 65 degrees C, and the thighs register at least 75 degrees C, 1 hour.  Start checking for doneness at the 45-minute mark.

While the turkey roasts, make the gravy.  Roughly chop the neck, backbone, and giblets.  Heat the oil in a 3-litre saucepan over high heat until shimmering.

Add the chopped turkey parts and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Add the remaining onions, carrots, and celery and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to soften and brown in spots, 5 minutes.


Add the chicken stock…

… the remaining thyme, and bay leaves.

Bring to a boil and reduce to a bare simmer.  Allow to cook 45 minutes, then strain through a fine mesh strainer into a 2-litre liquid measuring cup and discard solids.  Skim off any fat from the surface of the broth.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat in a 2-litre saucepan.

Add flour and cook, stirring constantly until flour is golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Stirring constantly, add broth in a thin, steady stream until incorporated. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until reduced to about half, about 20 minutes longer.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover, and keep gravy warm.

When turkey is cooked, remove from the oven and transfer the wire rack to a new roasting tin. Allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before carving.

Carefully pour any collected juices from out of the roasting pan through a fine-mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup.  Skim off excess fat and discard.  Whisk the juices into the gravy.

Carve the turkey and arrange on a large serving platter.  Serve together with the gravy.

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