This is an older recipe but one that I forgot to move over when I redesigned the site. So even though it’s not turkey time, I’m publishing this now so I don’t forget later!
Soaking cheesecloth in wine and butter and then keeping it on the turkey while you roast it helps keep the turkey super moist.
Once the turkey is on your carving board, make some gravy. It’s helpful if you can have one person making the gravy while another is carving the turkey.
Cheesecloth Covered Turkey
- 1/2 cup butter 1 stick
- 2 cups white wine
- a bit of sage and rosemary
- salt and pepper to taste
- 12-14 pound turkey
- Heat the butter, wine, and herbs in a small saucepan until the butter is melted. Figure out the size of cheesecloth you need to make about a 4-layer covering for your turkey. Soak the cheesecloth in the wine and butter.
- Remove the neck and giblets (gizzard, heart,liver) from the turkey. If you’ve never cooked a turkey before, you’ll find these by reaching into the cavities of the turkey. Typically the neck is in one side and a bag of parts in the other. If the turkey’s legs are held together by wire, slip them out, remove the innards, then put the legs back in the wire. Keep these to make some broth for your gravy (except for the liver, the really dark dark meat.). Rinse your turkey and pat dry with paper towels.
- Heat the oven to 450. Put the turkey in a v-rack in a roasting pan, breast side up. Put a carrot, a quartered onion, and some salt and pepper inside the turkey. Sprinkle the top with salt and pepper. Take the cheesecloth out of the wine and butter and lay it over the turkey, covering it.
- Put the turkey into the oven for 30 minutes, legs toward the back if your pan will fit that way. The cheesecloth will get black and disgusting looking but trust me.
- In the meantime, put the turkey neck and gizzards in a saucepan and cover with 6 cups of water or so. Add a half a carrot, half an onion, stalk of celery, and some salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover partway, and let it cook for a few hours to get some good broth for your gravy.
- After 30 minutes pull the turkey out and baste with some leftover wine and butter. If the bottom of the pan is totally dry, add a cup of water or broth to it.
- Reduce the heat to 350 and cook another couple of hours. The USDA has an informative page on how to thaw and cook turkeys or check the cooking directions on your turkey. It all varies depending on how large a turkey you have and what temperature you decide to use. Use a meat thermometer at the end to verify. Baste the turkey every 30 minutes, squirting the butter and wine onto the cheesecloth until it’s gone. Once it’s gone, use the pan juices. If there are none, pour water in the pan and then use that.
- About an hour before you think the turkey will be done, take it out of the oven and remove the cheesecloth. Baste again and put the uncovered turkey back in the oven and baste again after 30 more minutes.
- Check the temperature at the thickest part of the thigh with a meat thermometer. The leg should register 170-175F and one in the breast 160-165. Let the turkey sit 30 minutes before carving. At some point, but not right away, lift the turkey up and drain the cooking liquid from the inside into your roasting pan.