Lemon-Pepper Turkey with Bacon Gravy

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 4 hr 40 min
  • Prep: 1 hr
  • Inactive: 30 min
  • Cook: 3 hr 10 min
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings
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Ingredients

1 12- to 14-pound turkey (thawed if frozen)

4 lemons

2 tablespoons coarsely cracked black peppercorns

Kosher salt

1 onion, quartered

2 stalks celery, cut into chunks

3 sprigs thyme

9 slices bacon (about 8 ounces)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Classic Gravy, recipe follows

Classic Gravy

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more as needed

Turkey neck and giblets (liver discarded)

1 onion, quartered

1 carrot, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

3 sprigs thyme

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup dry white wine

8 cups low-sodium chicken or turkey broth, plus more as needed

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Turkey pan drippings

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Let the turkey sit at room temperature, 30 minutes. Position an oven rack in the lowest position (remove the other racks); preheat to 350 degrees F.
  2. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey; set aside for the gravy. Finely grate the zest from all 4 lemons; combine with the peppercorns and 1 tablespoon salt. Pat the turkey very dry with paper towels. Season the inside with about one-quarter of the lemon-pepper mixture, then rub the rest all over the skin. Cut one of the lemons into quarters; stuff inside the cavity along with the onion, celery and thyme sprigs. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Put the turkey on a rack set in a large roasting pan and tuck the wings under the body.
  3. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, reserving the drippings in the skillet. Chop the bacon; set aside for the gravy. Add the butter to the skillet with the drippings and stir until melted, then pour into a bowl and stir in the juice of 2 lemons. Let the lemon butter cool slightly, then brush all over the turkey. Transfer to the oven and roast 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the Classic Gravy.
  4. After the turkey has roasted 1 hour, baste it with the drippings. Continue roasting, basting every 30 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165 degrees F, about 2 more hours.
  5. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest 30 minutes before carving; reserve the drippings for the gravy. Stir the bacon into the finished gravy.

Classic Gravy

  1. Prepare the stock: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the turkey neck and giblets; cook, turning, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme and bay leaves; stir to coat. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the broth, reduce the heat to low and simmer about 1 hour. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup; reserve the saucepan. You should have 7 cups stock-if you're short, add more broth.
  2. Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons butter in the reserved saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the 7 cups stock; bring to a simmer and cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Set aside until the turkey is done.
  3. Pour the turkey pan drippings into a fat separator and let stand until the fat rises to the top. Discard the fat (or drizzle on your stuffing). Whisk the defatted drippings into the gravy; season with salt and pepper. Reheat before serving.
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