Bourbon Butter Turkey with Bourbon Cranberry Sauce


Serves 8-10
12 to 14 lb (5.5 to 6.4 kg) whole turkey
1 cup (250 ml) salted butter, softened
½ cup (125 ml) bourbon
2 tsp (10 ml) salt, plus extra to taste
1 tsp (5 ml) ground pepper, plus extra to taste
2 tsp (10 ml) finely grated orange zest
5 sprigs fresh thyme (chop leaves from 2 sprigs, leave 3 whole)
5 leaves fresh sage (chop 2 leaves, leave 3 whole)
1 tbsp (15 ml) honey
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small onion, peeled and halved
4 cups (1 L) turkey or chicken stock
¼ cup (60 ml) all-purpose flour
fresh bay leaves, small oranges and/or apples, halved shallots and garlic heads and/or fresh sage leaves, for garnish
Bourbon Cranberry Sauce, to serve, make ahead, recipe follows
2 cups (500 ml) frozen cranberries
1 orange, zest and juice
3 tbsp (45 ml) honey
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cinnamon stick
½ cup (125 ml) bourbon


  1. If turkey is frozen, defrost fully (this will take about 24 hours for every 5 lbs/2.2 kg). 1 hour before cooking, remove turkey from refrigerator and remove neck and giblets from cavity.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 F (170 C). Move oven rack to bottom of oven.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together butter, bourbon, salt, pepper, orange zest, chopped thyme, chopped sage and honey.
  4. Rub 1 tbsp (15 ml) butter mixture inside turkey cavity. Place 3 remaining whole thyme sprigs, 3 remaining whole sage leaves, bay leaves, garlic and onion in cavity.
  5. Loosen turkey skin over the breasts and rub half of remaining butter mixture under skin. Tuck wings under turkey and truss legs, if desired. Rub remaining butter mixture all over turkey.
  6. Place turkey and turkey neck on a roasting rack set over a roasting pan and roast for 13 minutes per pound, or until a meat thermometer inserted into thigh meat near the bone registers 165 F (74 C). Baste turkey every 30 minutes with juices in pan.
  7. After 1 hour, remove turkey neck and place it in a small saucepan. Cover with turkey stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease heat to a simmer and let it simmer for remainder of roasting time, then remove and discard neck.
  8. When turkey is done, remove from oven and let rest for 20 to 45 minutes. After turkey has rested for 20 minutes, drain any juices from cavity into roasting pan. At this point turkey can either be carved and plated or transferred to a carving board to carve at the table. Reserve pan drippings.
  9. To make gravy, skim off half the fat from drippings and discard fat. In a saucepan, bring drippings to a boil, scraping any browned bits from bottom of roasting pan and adding to drippings. Mix flour with just enough water to make a slurry. Whisk flour slurry into drippings, then mix in prepared turkey stock. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  10. Arrange desired garnishes on platter around turkey and serve with gravy and Bourbon Cranberry Sauce alongside.
  11. For the Bourbon Cranberry Sauce, combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn heat to low and reduce sauce until thickened, about 20 to 30 minutes. Let it come to room temperature before serving. Sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 1 week.
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