Return to Home Page Get a Catalog Search Enter Online Store

A traditional holiday dinner, roast turkey is also nice for any family get-together or Sunday party. This is a simple, bountiful meal that everyone loves - and there will be leftovers, too. For a quick and easy dinner, use a turkey breast or half a turkey. For a large family meal, get the big bird so there will be plenty of leftovers, even after everyone has stuffed themselves.


  • 1 whole fresh turkey (16-24 lbs.)
  • 2-4 TB. vegetable oil

"Spatchcocking" the turkey is a wonderful way to have the turkey cook faster and be evenly browned and cooked all at once - no fearing the breasts will dry out before the thighs are done. To spatchcock the bird, use a large, heavy bread knife (our choice) or really heavy-duty kitchen shears. While the bird is still in the sink after washing, turn it over and saw away at the back along both sides of the spine from the bottom up, removing the whole backbone. Use the backbone for stock. It takes some effort but is well worth it! Once the backbone is removed, turn the turkey over onto a roasting pan, and push down with all your weight on the breastbone. The turkey will suddenly go flat with the thigh and leg portion sticking out - see photo (right). Season and roast as usual at 325°, and you can figure the bird will be fully cooked in one hour less than if you had left it whole.

If you prefer to roast the bird whole, the directions follow.

Old Fashioned Simple Gravy

4 TB. drippings from roasting pan
3 Cups water (preferably from the potatoes)
1 TB. ARROWROOT STARCH, dissolved in 1/4 Cup cool water
1/2 - 1 tsp. salt

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Use the smaller amount of the ingredients listed for the average family. Use the larger amount for more than 8 people, or for a potato and gravy loving family like the Penzeys.

  • 3-5 lbs. russet or baking potatoes
  • 1/2-1 tsp. GROUND WHITE PEPPER
  • 1/4-1/2 Cup sour cream
  • 1/4-1/2 Cup milk
  • 1/2-1 tsp. salt

Preparation (can be done the night before or the morning of the dinner)

Turkey: Remove neck and giblets from the cavity of the turkey and discard or freeze for another recipe. Wash turkey, pat dry. Rub with the vegetable oil or melted butter, season heavily with MURAL OF FLAVOR. Place turkey in a large roasting pan with a rack, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Potatoes: Peel and quarter potatoes. Place in a kettle of water large enough to cover them and refrigerate. If the raw potatoes have been refrigerated overnight, change the water in the morning.


Turkey: A turkey takes roughly 15 minutes per pound to roast. 20 minutes per pound works for a breast or half turkey; a 12 lb. bird will take about 3 hours. These are approximate guidelines, and many people will cook a bird longer. We tend to find turkey always cooks faster than we think, so we rely on a watchful eye and a meat thermometer - which should read 160° inserted in the thick thigh meat. The nice thing about this meal is that the potatoes will hold nicely if the turkey needs an extra bit of time, and the turkey will stay warm if it is done first. If the turkey is done before everything else, just remove it from the oven, cover it with a clean dish towel, and let it rest. It should rest before carving for 10 minutes anyway, and it will still be warm for up to 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375°. Uncover the turkey and place in the oven. Roast for 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 325°. Baste the turkey every 15 minutes or so.

Potatoes: About 1 hour before dinner, fill a heavy 4 quart pot 2/3 full with water, add 1 tsp. salt, and bring to a rolling boil (this will take 10-15 minutes). Add the potatoes. Bring the potatoes back to a slow boil over medium-high heat. Once the potatoes are boiling, they will be done in 15-20 minutes (fairly tender when pierced with a fork). Drain the potatoes (reserve the water for the gravy) and return to the pot. Cover and return to the stove with the heat off for a few minutes so the potatoes will dry. Add GARLIC, WHITE PEPPER, sour cream, milk, and salt, then mash with a hand masher or whip with a beater, depending on the texture you prefer (a mixer will create fine, pureed potatoes, hand-mashing will yield chunkier, denser potatoes). When mashed, cover the potatoes tightly and leave on the back burner of the stove until ready to serve (it is warm there even with the burner turned off). Remove the turkey from the oven when the thermometer has popped out, the juices run clear when pierced in the thigh with a knife, or a meat thermometer reads 160°. Place the turkey on a platter and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving, which is just the amount of time needed to prepare gravy.

Gravy: A true holiday turkey produces a whole lot of flavorful drippings and fat; it is not unusual to get 2-3 cups of liquid from the pan. If this is the lucky situation you face, pour all the drippings into a large measuring cup, let the fat come to the top, carefully pour off as much of the fat as you can, and proceed to use the rest of the juices in place of some of the 2-3 cups of the potato cooking water. Place the roasting pan on the stove top burners over medium heat. Add 1 cup of the potato cooking water to the pan, stir, and scrape vigorously to get all the drippings and browned bits dissolved. Then, pour the stock through a small strainer into a saucepan. Bring the stock to a rapid boil and reduce the liquid by a third, which takes about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, so the liquid is just simmering. Drizzle in the ARROWROOT-water slurry, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (make sure the gravy is not boiling). The gravy will thicken rapidly; you may not need all of the thickener to reach the consistency you like. Add salt, continue to simmer the gravy a minute or two longer over medium-low heat. It will become clear and glossy, at which point it is ready to serve. When the gravy is finished, pour it carefully into a sauce boat and let it cool a bit while the turkey is being carved and the serving dishes are placed on the table. Since the gravy-making is the only last-minute step, if someone else agrees to carve the turkey, both the cook and the guests can arrive at the table relaxed and ready to enjoy the meal. Prep. time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: several hours total
Serves: 8-12

Mural of Flavor 1.3 oz. 1/2 cup jar
Arrowroot Starch 2.5 oz. 1/2 cup jar
Garlic Powder Granulated 2.9 oz. 1/2 cup jar
White Pepper Fine 2.4 oz. 1/2 cup jar

© 2008 Penzeys Spices. All rights reserved.