The Best Turkey (and Unbelievable Brussels Sprouts)

The Best Turkey (and Unbelievable Brussels Sprouts)

By Jenny Osburn | The Union Street Cafe Cookbook |

It took me twenty years to really figure out how to make flavourful, tender, reheat-able turkey. At least once a week we’d cook a turkey at the restaurant for buffet dinners, clubhouse sandwiches, and pasta dishes. Here’s what I’ve learned. You’ll need to start this the day before the feast! The turkey can cook overnight in your oven to save room on the big day.

Turkey and Gravy

1 fresh or defrosted turkey (12 to 20 lbs), local and free-range if at all possible

2-6 Tbsp melted butter or olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Flour as needed

¼ C chopped fresh parsley or ½ tsp dried thyme

Place the turkey in a roasting pan with fairly high sides. Rub the turkey all over with the butter or olive oil, and salt very generously, at least a heaping tablespoon for a smaller bird and more for a larger one. Grind on some pepper and refrigerate uncovered overnight. The next day, preheat the oven to 250°F and pop in the turkey. Roast for about 5-8 hours, depending on the size of the bird. The breast meat temperature should be at least 170°F. Don’t be afraid to roast the turkey overnight if that works best for your cooking schedule.

Let the turkey cool for a while, then carefully remove it to a baking sheet, tent with foil and leave to rest while you make the gravy.

Set the roasting pan on a burner turned to medium heat and add 2-6 cups water (again, depending on the size of the bird). Whisk to loosen up the browned bits. In a bowl, place 2 tablespoons flour for every cup of water you added to the pan. Stir in enough cold water to make a very smooth, pourable mixture. Whisking constantly, add it to the simmering juices in the roasting pan. Cook and stir, making sure to get into all the corners of the pan, until the gravy boils and thickens. Taste and add the parsley or thyme, freshly ground black pepper, and a little salt if needed.

Gently pull the turkey meat from the bones (save them for stock) and cut into serving pieces. Arrange on a serving platter and serve with the gravy.

The turkey can also be made in advance to this point: place the turkey pieces in an ovenproof container and pour a cup or so of the pan juices over the turkey before making the gravy. Cover with foil and refrigerate. To reheat, place in a 300°F oven and warm for 30-45 minutes.

Unbelievable Brussels Sprouts

Serves 8

When I was a child I never imagined standing at the fridge eating cold Brussels sprouts. Now that I’ve discovered this super-tasty method I’ve fallen hard for the little green gems.

1 lb. (454g) Brussels sprouts

¼ C olive oil

½ tsp salt

Wash the Brussels sprouts and cut any large ones in half. Heat a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Pour in the olive oil, let heat for a minute, then add the Brussels sprouts. Shake the pan to distribute, then sprinkle with the salt and cover. Let cook undisturbed for 3-5 minutes, until the sprouts have browned on the underside. Shake the pan again, add ¼ cup of water and cover. This will help the sprouts cook through. Cook for another 3-5 minutes, until the water has evaporated and the sprouts are tender. Cut one in half and taste. If it’s not well cooked, add another two tablespoons of water to the pan and cover and cook until evaporated. Uncover, give the sprouts a stir, and reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook, stirring as needed, until all sprouts are browned. Serve at any temperature.

Jenny Osburn is the author of The Union Street Café Cookbook. Her second collaboration with Laura MacDonald of Deep Hollow Print, The Kitchen Party Cookbook, is now available! Find more recipes at and see what she’s up to on instagram at jenny.osburn