Preparing Your Holiday Bird for Its Big Debut

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roast turkey

During the Holiday season there is so much to be done. This year Extension has taken the guesswork out of preparing your Holiday Turkey by finding a recipe that is sure to impress your guests.

Thawing Tips:

Remember using the recipe below for 17 pound turkey you will need to thaw it in the refrigerator for approximately 4 days and 6 hours. You can modify this recipe and the thawing time using the rule of 1 day for every 4 pounds of turkey in the refrigerator. Thaw breast side up in unopened packaging. To prevent cross contamination I suggest placing your turkey on a tray or cookie sheet.

If you do not have that kind of time you can use cold water thawing, you will need to place the turkey breast side down in an unopened package with the water completely covering the bird. Change the water every 30 minutes to insure the turkey remains chilled. For every pound you can expect it to take 30 minutes of thawing. So for this recipe you estimate it will take at least 8 hours and 30 minutes to thaw the 17 pound turkey.

Cooking Tips:

When cooking remember to use a thermometer to ensure your turkey reaches the correct internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

After your turkey comes out of the oven before slicing remember to let it rest. This will make slicing easier and will allow the turkey to absorb more of the delicious marinade you prepared for it.

Recipe Tip:

If the sage gravy is too difficult try the turkey without gravy. It really is not needed and would be much healthier without any type of gravy.

Thanksgiving Pioneer Style Herb Roasted Turkey

Total Cook time 5hrs 35min



  • One 17-pound whole fresh turkey
  • 1 1/4 stick (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 large stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large onions, quartered
  • 8 cups homemade chicken stock

Sage Gravy:

  • Turkey neck
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage


For the turkey:

  • Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 1 hour before roasting. Combine the butter, sage, rosemary, thyme, and parsley in a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  • Season the cavity of the turkey with salt and pepper and fill the cavity with half of the carrots, celery, and onion. Rub the entire turkey with the herb butter and season liberally with salt and pepper.
  • Put 4 cups of the chicken stock in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
  • Place the remaining vegetables on the bottom of a large roasting pan. Put the turkey on top of the vegetables, put in the oven and roast until lightly golden brown, 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and continue roasting, basting with the warm chicken stock every 15 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 160 degrees F, about 2 to 2 1/4 hours longer.
  • Remove the turkey from the oven, transfer to a baking sheet, tent loosely with foil and let rest 20 minutes before slicing.

For the sage gravy:

  • Strain the cooking liquid from the roasting pan into a medium saucepan (should be about 4 cups, if not, add more stock to make 4 cups). Add the neck, bring to a boil, add the sage leaves, remove from the heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Remove the sage leaves.
  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until reduced. Whisk in the sage-infused stock and cook until thickened and smooth, about 5 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper and chopped sage.

Recipe courtesy of Bobby Flay. Visit to view the video and full recipe.

Written By

Olivia Patchel, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionOlivia PatchelArea Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences Call Olivia Email Olivia N.C. Cooperative Extension, Currituck County Center
Updated on Nov 19, 2015
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