Sandra’s Thanksgiving Turkey

“I have been making this turkey for about 10 years now! We have experimented with everything from brining, to pressure cooking, to frying — you name it. And this, hands down, is always a winner. The cheesecloth and wine idea was adapted from an old Martha Stewart recipe, but over the years I have tweaked this enough — like adding crumbled bacon — that I can now call it my own. Oh, and if you want a specific wine suggestion I will say that last year I used a Gewürztraminer and it was so yummy that I am using it again!” – Sandra, Twin Marketing


  • One 18-20 pound fresh whole turkey, giblets and neck removed from cavity (freeze for future use)
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature
  • One 750-ml bottle dry aromatic white wine. Alsace works nicely.
  • Veggie broth to stretch the butter/wine mixture if needed
  • 2-3 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Root veggies to line the pan: carrots, celery, onions
  • Onions and lemons quartered and herbs to stuff the cavity (sage & thyme)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 lb. thick sliced cooked bacon crumbled (optional, for garnish)
  • Parsley minced


  • Rinse turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.
  • Place oven rack on lowest level and preheat oven to 450°F.
  • Combine melted butter and white wine in a saucepan on the stovetop.
  • Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and cut it into a 17-inch, 4-layer square. Immerse the cheesecloth in the butter and wine; let soak.
  • Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it; an instant-read thermometer is a much more accurate indication of doneness. Fold wing tips under turkey.
  • Sprinkle some of the salt and pepper inside turkey and stuff with onion, lemon and herbs. Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string. Fold neck flap under and secure it with toothpicks.
  • Rub turkey with the softened butter (go between the skin and meat on the breasts) and generously salt and pepper. Take care to get into all the crevices.
  • Lift the cheesecloth out of liquid, and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread damp cheesecloth evenly over the breast and as far down the sides of the turkey as you can get it.
  • Place turkey, legs first, in the oven and cook for 45 minutes at 450°F. (If your turkey won’t fit legs first, place it sideways, but remember to rotate it a few times.) Using a ladle, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine mixture.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue to cook for 2 ½ more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices. If the pan gets too full of juices, spoon out excess and reserve for gravy.
  • After the third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Turn the roasting pan so that the breast is facing the back of the oven (unless you’re cooking sideways) and baste turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. The skin gets fragile as it browns, so baste carefully. Cook 1 more hour, basting after 30 minutes.
  • After the fourth hour of cooking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest parts of the thigh and breast, but do not touch bone. The deepest part of the THIGH temperature should reach 170-175°F. If not to temp then baste turkey, return to oven, and cook another 20 to 30 minutes.
  • When ready, gently transfer turkey to a clean pan lined with foil and wrap it nicely allowing some air to escape so it doesn’t keep “cooking” too much. Let the turkey rest before carving for anywhere from 1½ to 2½ hours.
  • While the roasting pan is still hot, discard the root veggies and drain the pan liquid into a fat separator. Place pan over low flame and add flour while whisking. Whisk to create a roux and brown to your liking, anywhere from Burnt Sienna to Dark Chocolate. Then, add the juices from the fat separator with any wine and butter mixture. Whisk until well combined and pour into a glass container to reserve for garnishing. (It will separate, so mix it up again prior to serving.)
  • When the turkey is carved, use the gravy/pan concentrate to pour all over the carved bird letting it soak into all the meat. Then serve with Williams Sonoma gravy base on the side for folks who want more gravy.

Carving tips:

  • Remove as much skin as you can and slice up the removed skin. Broil it with the cooked bacon to add even more crispiness.
  • When carving the breast, take the whole breast off the bird first and then cut the breast on the bias. It’s much tenderer that way.
  • Once the bird is carved and placed on the platter with pan concentrate or gravy is poured, sprinkle the whole platter with crispy turkey skin and/or bacon and garnish with parsley for some color and present.