Lemon-&-Fennel-Rubbed Turkey with Homemade Giblet Gravy

Lemon-&-Fennel-Rubbed Turkey with Homemade Giblet Gravy

1 Review
From: EatingWell Magazine, November/December 2016

Fennel has sweet flavor notes that pair vibrantly with tart lemon in this juicy Thanksgiving turkey recipe. A rub of herbs mixed with olive oil and lemon juice infuses the meat with flavor without all of the space needed to soak the turkey in a liquid brine. Making the giblet gravy in a large saucepan rather than in the unwieldy turkey roasting pan is way easier to manage on the stovetop—plus it frees up a burner.

Ingredients 12 servings

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Original recipe yields 12 servings
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  • Lemon & Fennel Rub
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • Zest from 2 lemons
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme or 3 tablespoons dried
  • 1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds, freshly ground or 2 teaspoons ground
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, freshly ground or 2 teaspoons ground
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Turkey
  • 1 12- to 14-pound natural or heritage turkey
  • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • Giblet Gravy
  • Turkey giblets and neck
  • 1 large carrot, cut into thirds
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 handful fresh parsley or celery leaves
  • 4 cups water plus 3 tablespoons, divided
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Ground pepper to taste


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  1. To prepare rub: Mash garlic and salt together on a cutting board to form a paste. Transfer to a medium bowl and mix in lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, 3 tablespoons fresh thyme (or 2 tablespoons dried), fennel, pepper and sugar.
  2. To dry-brine turkey: Reserve giblets and neck for making giblet stock for gravy. Thoroughly pat the turkey dry inside and out with paper towels. Place on a platter and loosen the skin of the breast and legs. Spread about one-third of the rub mixture under the skin, one-third on the outside and the remaining third inside the cavity. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
  3. To prepare stock for gravy: Place giblets and neck, carrot, onion, celery, thyme, garlic, bay leaf and parsley (or celery leaves) in a large saucepan. Add 4 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 1 hour. Pour the stock through a fine sieve into a 2-cup glass measure. (Discard solids.) You should have 1¾ to 2 cups stock.
  4. To roast turkey: Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 425°F.
  5. Transfer the turkey to a roasting rack set in a roasting pan. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Place onion, lemon and thyme sprigs in the cavity. Tuck the wings under the body and tie the legs together.
  6. Roast the turkey until the skin starts to brown in spots, 20 to 30 minutes.
  7. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and roast for 1 hour more.
  8. Turn the roasting pan 180 degrees and tent the breast with foil. Continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh without touching bone registers 165°F, 45 minutes to 1½ hours more.
  9. Carefully tilt the turkey so the juices from the cavity flow into the pan. Transfer the turkey to a clean cutting board and tent with foil. Let rest 20 minutes before carving.
  10. To prepare the gravy: Scrape the drippings and browned bits from the roasting pan into a large saucepan and add the stock. Bring to a boil.
  11. Whisk cornstarch and the remaining 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Add to the stock mixture, whisking constantly; cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Pour the gravy through a fine-mesh sieve. Season with pepper.
  • To make ahead: Refrigerate the stock for the gravy (Step 3) for up to 2 days.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: 4 oz. turkey (plus leftovers) & 2½ Tbsp. gravy each
  • Per serving: 246 calories; 10 g fat(3 g sat); 0 g fiber; 3 g carbohydrates; 33 g protein; 11 mcg folate; 123 mg cholesterol; 1 g sugars; 1 g added sugars; 60 IU vitamin A; 2 mg vitamin C; 23 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 416 mg sodium; 283 mg potassium
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 0
  • Exchanges: 4½ lean meat, ½ fat

Reviews 1

November 26, 2017
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By: Terri Tarleton Storm
I doubled the recipe and used it on a 22 pound turkey for Thanksgiving this year. It was AMAZING. It was so flavorful and easy to do. The aroma was out of this world. I've used many different recipes for turkeys over the years and this is by far my favorite. It will be my go-to recipe going forward.
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