Chef Art Smith shares his easy recipe for a foolproof Thanksgiving turkey with gravy.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Rinse the turkey under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Slip your fingers under the turkey skin, and loosen it at the breast area. Slip 6 sprigs each of thyme and sage under the skin. Coarsely chop the remaining 2 sprigs each of thyme and sage, and toss with the bay leaf, onions, carrots, celery, and leek in a medium bowl. Season the body cavity with salt and pepper to taste, then loosely stuff with some of the vegetable mixture; cover and refrigerate the remaining vegetables.2.
Place the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan. Rub all over with the oil, then season the skin with salt and pepper. Cover the breast area only (not wings or legs) with aluminum foil. Roast the turkey for 1 hour. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and roast for 1 hour. Remove the foil from the breast, and scatter the remaining vegetables in the pan. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh, without touching the bone, reads 180 degrees F. Transfer the turkey to a serving platter and let stand for 20 minutes before carving.3.
For the turkey broth: While the turkey is roasting, make the broth. Chop the turkey neck into large chunks with a cleaver or heavy knife. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the turkey neck and giblets. Cook, turning occasionally, until well browned, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the canned broth, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add enough cold water to cover the ingredients by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off the foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to low, and add the thyme, parsley, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Simmer until the broth is well flavored, about 2 hours. Strain the broth. Let stand for 5 minutes, and then skim off the fat on the surface.4
: For the gravy: Discard the vegetables in the roasting pan. Pour the cooking juices into a glass bowl or gravy separator. Let stand 5 minutes, and then pour off the fat. Pour the degreased juices back into the roasting pan. Bring to a boil on the stove over high heat, scraping up the browned bits in the pan. Add the broth, then the dissolved cornstarch, and cook until lightly thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper and pour into a sauce boat. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy.