Butterflied Turkey & Gravy

This “butterflied” technique is easy and fast. It is a different method than the classical more traditional one where the turkey cooks whole for hours. In this recipe, the turkey needs around 1 hour and a half in the oven. The bird cooks flattened. The results are always delicious: moist turkey with a golden crispy skin.
I season the turkey with two simple ingredients: salt and extra virgin olive oil. No brining, no planning for two or three days ahead. Nothing of all this. Simply seasoned butterflied turkey and a delicious gravy that will complement the dinner with rich flavors and a silky texture.

Bon appétit!

Butterflied Turkey & Gravy

Recipe credits: Rafaella Sargi
Serves 10

Turkey Ingredients
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 leek, chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, (stems removes) chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
black pepper
1 fresh turkey (around 13 pounds / 6 kg), neck and giblets removed and pat dried with paper towels
4 teaspoons sea salt
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Gravy Ingredients
the turkey’s neck and backbone
1 small cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2 shallots roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
4 garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
5 black peppercorns
3 cups water
2 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons flour


Scale and prep all the ingredients.
You will need on large baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, an oven safe wire rack (same size as the baking sheet), electric knife (or poultry scissors), a meat thermometer, aluminum foil, a medium pot, a strainer, a medium bowl and a small blender.

Heat the oven to 425F / 220C.

Place the carrots, celery, leek, shallots, garlic, bay leaves, rosemary and thyme on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the wire rack on top of the chopped vegetables. set aside.
On a large cutting board (or working surface), place the turkey breast-side down with the tail facing you. Using an electric knife, remove the backbone of the bird by cutting along the backbone right side, then the left side. Detach the backbone completely from the turkey and set aside for the gravy.
Flip the turkey over, breast-side facing you, cut or brake the wishbone. Using your hands, apply pressure on the turkey breasts to hear a “crack sound”. The bird should be slightly flattened.
Keeping the turkey in that “butterfly” position, with the breast-side facing you, place it on the wire rack. Coat the turkey with the olive oil, making sure to rub the skin well. Season all part of the turkey’s skin with a generous amount of salt. Put in the hot oven and let it cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes approximately. Inserted in the thickest part of the turkey, a thermometer should read 165F / 75C. Remove the cooked turkey and cover with aluminum foil and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving.

While the turkey is cooking, in a medium pot, put the turkey’s neck and backbone, cinnamon stick, shallots, rosemary, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes over medium heat until the meat starts to brown. Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover and let it simmer for 1 hour. Over a medium bowl, empty the content of the “sauce pot” through a strainer. Keep the liquid only, discarding the meat and herbs. Set aside.
In the (now empty) medium pot, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. While whisking continuously (to avoid lumps) add the sauce. Let it simmer over medium-low heat whisking often until the gravy thickens. Once the turkey is ready, take 3 tablespoons of “turkey vegetables” (that cooked on the baking sheet under the turkey in the oven) and puree them until smooth. Add them to the gravy. Mix well. Correct the seasoning and serve. 

Important note: cook the turkey to a specific temperature and not for a pre-fixed “time”. Each bird differ in size.