Food & Wine Recipe for Thanksgiving

Roast Turkey with Fried Sage & Pecans
© Frances Janisch

Roast Turkey with Fried Sage and Pecans

  • ACTIVE: 45 MIN
  • SERVINGS: 12

Grace Parisi blends ingre­di­ents into a but­ter that she rubs all over the turkey. In addi­tion to this one with sage, oth­er cre­ative ideas are Roast Turkey with Lemon and Chivesand Roast Turkey with Pick­led Jalapeño–Paprika Gravy.



  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup canola oil, for fry­ing
  • 1 large gar­lic clove, smashed
  • 1 cup sage leaves
  • 2 sticks unsalt­ed but­ter, soft­ened
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup all-pur­pose flour
  • One 18-pound turkey
  • 1 car­rot, cut into 1‑inch pieces
  • 1 onion, cut into 1‑inch wedges
  • 4 cups Turkey Stock
  1. Pre­heat the oven to 350°. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast in the oven for about 10 min­utes. Trans­fer the pecans to a food proces­sor and let cool com­plete­ly.
  2. In a medi­um skil­let, heat the oil. Add the gar­lic and cook over mod­er­ate heat until very light­ly gold­en, about 1 minute. Add the sage leaves and fry, stir­ring gen­tly, until crisp, about 2 min­utes. Using a slot­ted spoon, trans­fer the sage leaves and gar­lic clove to a paper towel–lined plate and let cool. Add half of the sage leaves and the gar­lic clove to the food proces­sor along with the but­ter and 1 table­spoon of salt; pulse until smooth. Trans­fer 1/4 cup of the but­ter to a small bowl and stir in the flour; reserve.
  3. Begin­ning at the neck end, gen­tly sep­a­rate the turkey skin from the breast and legs using your fin­gers. Sea­son the turkey cav­i­ty with salt. Rub half of the pecan-sage but­ter from the food proces­sor under the skin, spread­ing it over the breast and thighs.
  4. Set the turkey on a rack in a large roast­ing pan and scat­ter the car­rot and onion in the pan; add 1 1/2 cups of water. Rub the remain­ing pecan-sage but­ter from the food proces­sor all over the out­side of the turkey. Roast on the bot­tom rack of the oven for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, until an instant-read ther­mome­ter insert­ed deep in the thigh reg­is­ters 170°; halfway through roast­ing, add 1 1/2 cups of water to the roast­ing pan and tent the turkey with foil. Trans­fer the turkey to a carv­ing board and let rest for 30 min­utes.
  5. Mean­while, strain the pan juices into a large mea­sur­ing cup; dis­card the solids. Spoon off the fat and dis­card it. (You should have about 2 cups of defat­ted pan juices.) In a large saucepan, boil the turkey stock until it is reduced to 3 cups, about 15 min­utes. Set the roast­ing pan over 2 burn­ers on high heat; add the reduced stock and scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bot­tom and side of the pan. Strain the stock into the saucepan, add the pan juices and bring to a sim­mer. Whisk in the reserved pecan-sage but­ter with flour and sim­mer over mod­er­ate heat, whisk­ing con­stant­ly, until thick­ened, about 4 min­utes. Sea­son with salt.
  6. Carve the turkey, trans­fer to a plat­ter and gar­nish with the reserved sage leaves. Serve the turkey, pass­ing the gravy at the table.

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