Maple-Glazed Roast Turkey with Applejack Giblet Gravy

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This burnished, maple-glazed roast turkey combines all the luscious fall flavors of New England-crisp apples, pure maple syrup, and, in the Yankee spirit, a gravy spiked with applejack brandy. I like to pair this turkey with either Sourdough Stuffing with Roasted Chestnuts and Apples or New England Bread Stuffing with Bell’s Seasoning.

NotesCarving a Turkey:

If you are a confident turkey carver, place the turkey on a large serving platter and carve it at the table. For the majority of us, carving the turkey in the kitchen is a safer bet. Place the turkey on a carving board, ideally one that has a moat and well to catch the delicious poultry juices. Untie the bird and remove the skewers, if you used them. Using a sharp carving knife and meat fork, cut down between the thigh and body until you feel bone. Twist and pull down on the leg and thigh a little until you see the thigh joint. Now cut through the joint to separate the thigh from the body. Cut the joint where the leg meets the thigh. Repeat on the other side. Now you have legs and thighs ready for a warm platter.

To carve the breast meat, start at the keel bone that runs along the top of the breast. Angle the knife and cut thin slices of breast meat from one side of the bird. Continue until you reach the rib cage; then carve the other breast. (Alternatively, some carvers prefer to cut the entire side of the breast from the hone and then slice the breast on an angle into thick slices.) At this point you should have plenty of meat for serving. Lay slices of breast meat in an overlapping fashion down the center of the platter. Place the legs and thighs along the side. If a guest wants to have a wing, pull back the wing until you see the joint between the wing and the body, cut through that joint, and add the wing to the platter. Cover the rest of the turkey loosely with aluminum foil and remove the rest of the meat from the carcass later for some fine leftovers.


When considering presentation, the question you have to ask yourself is: Do you went drama or ease of serving for Thanksgiving dinner? There is no right or wrong answer; it’s a matter of what you are comfortable with. Presenting a whole roasted bird on a large, artfully garnished platter is a showstopper on a buffet or at the head of a dining table. Just remember, you’ll need to know what you are doing, and have an attractive carving set (a sharp carving knife end carving fork) ready for the task at hand. Play the part, and carve with authority and confidence. It’s fun.

If you want to carve the turkey in the kitchen and present a platter of meat to guests, follow the carving directions, and garnish one corner of the platter or two corners diagonally opposite each other with some of the garnishes suggested below. Keep it simple; the presentation of fanned-out, overlapping turkey slices is beautiful in itself.


I always like my garnishes to relate to the dish being garnished. For instance, when I make an herb butter-rubbed turkey, I buy or snip from the garden extra bunches of fresh sage, thyme, and parsley. You can either tuck the herbs around the base of the bird or place them at the comers of the platter. For the Maple-Glazed Roast Turkey with Applejack Giblet Gravy, fresh herbs look great as a garnish, and so do lady apples and kumquats nestled on top of the herbs.

See what’s in your garden, if you have one. Interesting greens like kale or savoy cabbage make beautiful garnishes. A quick trip to the yard and a few snips with a scissors is all it takes. If you don’t have a garden, peruse the produce aisles of your market for interesting seasonal produce. If the platter is large enough, small gourds and Indian corn nestled on herbs or greens look pretty around the edges of a serving platter. Just avoid the clichés-curly-leaf parsley with slices of orange, or parsley with pickled crab apples-and your turkey will look regal and festive.

Chicken Stock and Broth:

I’m one of those cooks who always has homemade chicken stock in the freezer. It’s a habit: Every time I roast a whole chicken, I make a small batch of stock by tossing the neck, giblets, and wing tips into a saucepan with a bit of chopped yellow onion, celery, and carrot; a small bay leaf; a few black peppercorns; and cold water to cover. I simmer it for an hour, strain it, let it cool, skim off the fat-and I have stock. It’s easy and never feels like a chore—at least to me. Canned broth is a good substitute. Look for a brand that is low in salt; I prefer Swanson’s low-sodium, fat-free organic broth.

Serves12 to 20, depending on the size of the turkey

Cooking Methodroasting


Total Timea day or more

OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free



Taste and Texturefruity, herby, juicy, meaty, savory, sweet


  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 golden delicious apples, cored and quartered
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • One 12- to 16-pound Brined Turkey (see Notes) made with Apple Cider and Ginger Brine
  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup homemade chicken stock (see Notes) or canned low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • Applejack Giblet Gravy


  1. Position a rack on the second-lowest level in the oven and preheat to 500°F. Have ready a large roasting pan with a roasting rack, preferably V-shaped, set in the pan.

  2. Place the onion, garlic, apples, thyme, and sage inside the chest cavity of the turkey. Truss the turkey. Using a pastry brush, brush the turkey with the butter, season the turkey with a few grinds of freshly ground pepper. Place the turkey, breast side down, on the roasting rack. Acid the stock end apple elder to the pan. Roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Baste the turkey with the pan juices and roast for 30 minutes longer.

  3. Remove the turkey from the oven. Using silicone oven mitts, regular oven mitts covered with aluminum fall, or wads of paper towels, turn the turkey breast side up. (It won’t be very hot at this point.) Baste with the pan juices and return the turkey to the oven. Continue to roast, basting with the pan juices again after 45 minutes. At this point, check the internal temperature of the turkey by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh without touching bone. (As a point of reference, when the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 125°F, the turkey is about 1 hour away from being done. Of course, roasting times will vary, depending on the size of the bird, its temperature when it went into the oven, whether or not It is stuffed, and your particular oven and the accuracy of the thermostat.)

  4. During the last 20 minutes of roasting, brush the turkey with the maple syrup. Return the turkey to the oven and continue to roast until the instant-read thermometer registers 160° to 165°F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching bone.

  5. When the turkey is done, tilt the body so the juices from the main cavity run into the pan. Transfer the turkey to a carving board or serving platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil, let the turkey rest for 30 to 40 minutes before carving, to allow the juices to redistribute. (The internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees, while the turkey rests.)

  6. Carve the turkey (see Notes) and serve, accompanied by the Applejack Giblet Gravy.

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