18-20poundturkey, neck reserved, giblets discarded (see note)
1large white or yellow onion, coarsely chopped
6largecarrots, peeled and coarsely chopped (or about 20 baby carrots)
3celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1sprig fresh rosemary
Coarse, kosher salt and pepper
1turkey-sized oven bag, such as the Reynolds brand
3-4cupschicken broth, to add to the accumulated turkey juices
Salt and pepper
For the turkey, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, adjusting an oven rack to the lowest position.
In a roasting pan, add the turkey neck, onion, carrots, celery, broth, rosemary sprig, and bay leaves. Set the V-rack in the pan.
Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Optional: tuck the turkey wings behind the back and tie legs together with kitchen twine (I sometimes do this, and sometimes don't - that's the lazy in me coming out). Melt the butter and brush it all over the outside of the turkey. Season the outside and inside of the turkey with salt and pepper.
Toss the 1 tablespoon flour inside the oven bag; hold the bag closed and shake to distribute the flour evenly. Slide and shimmy (that's right, shimmy) the bag over the turkey and secure the bag closed with the included bag tie. Place the turkey on the V-rack and cut four 1-inch slits in the top of the bag to allow steam to escape.
Roast the turkey until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F for the breast meat and 175 degrees for thigh meat, about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Using a knife or scissors, slit the bag underneath to allow accumulated liquid to release into the roasting pan (be careful of any steam escaping).
Cut the bag around the outside of the turkey, removing the top of the bag completely. Carefully holding the tied end of the bag, pull the bottom remaining part of the bag out from underneath the turkey, lifting up the turkey slightly if needed.
Transfer the V-rack with the turkey to a rimmed baking sheet, tent the turkey with foil and let rest for 45 minutes to an hour.
For the gravy, using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Discard the turkey neck and strain the remaining liquid/vegetables in the roasting pan through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl. Use a spoon to press on the vegetables so the maximum amount of liquid is strained into the bowl. Discard the cooked (and let's be honest: mushy) vegetables. Let the liquid sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the fat to rise to the top. Skim the fat from the top of the juices.
Add additional chicken broth to the accumulated juices to equal about 6 cups.
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour, and stir or whisk, for 1-2 minutes until the flour is golden and sizzling.
Gradually add the reserved turkey juices/broth while vigorously whisking (to avoid lumps). Cook until the gravy is thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 5-7 minutes. Add additional broth, if needed, for thinner gravy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Carve the turkey and transfer to a serving platter. Serve with gravy alongside (and of course all the other tasty side dishes!)
Brining: brining a turkey adds a lot of flavor and tenderness to the turkey (like, for instance, in this recipe). So ideally, a pre-brined turkey would be perfect for this recipe. However, I've made this recipe without pre-brining first, and the turkey is still very, very delicious and juicy. So basically, I'll leave brining up to you. Trader Joe's sells a pre-brined turkey (and I'm sure other places do, as well, so you can also look for something like that). Turkey: Over the years as I've roasted many a Thanksgiving turkey, I've used everything from everyday Butterball and Jennie-O turkeys to more organic and/or Amish or fresh turkeys. I'm not going to get on a soapbox about the brand of turkey you use. This particular recipe is a pretty basic recipe that will serve you well for any number of types/brands of turkeys, but if you do have access to a natural, fresh turkey, I'd say go for it. Temperature: I really believe the reason turkeys can be dry after roasting isn't because of the cooking method, necessarily, but because the turkey gets overcooked. Investing in a simple instant-read thermometer can solve this problem easily. Keep an eye on temperature, let the turkey rest after it comes out of the oven, and you'll be well on your way to juicy turkey heaven.