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Roast Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy

a plate of food on a table

A Tom Douglas® Recipe


For the fennel salt:

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

For the smoked paprika and fennel butter:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (save the stems for the cavity)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the turkey:

  • One 10-pound turkey, excess fat discarded
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • The zest of 1 lemon, removed in long strips with a vegetable peeler
  • 4 large sprigs of thyme, plus the stems from the chopped thyme
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 medium onion (about 12 ounces) peeled, cut in half, and thinly sliced

For the sweet onion gravy:

  • 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons ‘Rub with Love’ Exotic Mushroom Rub
  • 4½ to 5 cups turkey stock


  1. To make the fennel-salt, combine the salt, fennel, and pepper in a small bowl.  
  2. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the mixture for sprinkling on the turkey and transfer the rest of the fennel-salt to a couple of small, shallow dishes for passing at the table.  
  3. Set aside.
  4. To make the paprika-fennel butter, put the butter in a small bowl.
  5. Add the fennel, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper, and mix until well blended (or combine the ingredients in a food processor.)
  6. Set aside.
  7. Trim the wing tips from the turkey and remove the gizzards and neck and set aside for stock.
  8. Remove the livers and discard.
  9. Rinse the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels.
  10. When you are ready to roast the turkey, preheat the oven to 350°F. 
  11. Place the turkey on a work surface and loosen the skin over the breasts by running your hands under the skin.  
  12. Rub the smoked paprika butter under the skin and over the breasts. 
  13. Sprinkle the reserved 2 tablespoons fennel-salt all over the skin of the turkey and also sprinkle a little inside the cavity, then place the garlic cloves, lemon zest, and thyme sprigs inside the cavity.
  14. Brush the roasting pan lightly with a little of the melted butter.  
  15. Make a bed of the onions in the center of the pan.  
  16. Place the prepared turkey directly over the onions. (ie. no rack)  
  17. Brush or baste the turkey with te rest of the melted butter and place the pan in the oven.
  18. After the first hour of roasting, baste the turkey with the fat that has collected in the pan and rotate the pan.
  19. Continue to roast, basting every 20 minutes until the turkey is done, about an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half longer. (If the turkey is browning too much, tent with foil). (Total roasting time is 2¼ to 2½ hours.)
  20. The turkey is done when a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165° to 170º F.
  21. Remove the pan from the oven and set the turkey on a large platter to rest, tented with foil, for about 20 minutes while you make the gravy.
  22. To make the gravy, set the roasting pan with the onions, juices, and drippings over the burner (or straddle over 2 burners) over medium high heat.  
  23. Stir up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or wooden spatula and allow the onions to get a little more browned, stirring for a few minutes.
  24. Sprinkle the flour and ‘Rub with Love’ Exotic Mushroom Rub evenly over the contents of the pan and stir with the wooden spoon for a few minutes until the flour is well combined with the onions, fats and juices in the pan.  
  25. Start adding the stock, a ladle-full at a time, using a whisk to whisk out the lumps before you add more stock.  
  26. Continue gradually adding stock, whisking each time until smooth, until you’ve added about 4½ cups of stock.
  27. Also add any juices that have collected on the platter around the turkey. Lower the heat to medium and simmer the gravy, whisking occasionally, for about 8 to10 minutes.
  28. The gravy should be thick enough to coat a spoon.  If it seems too thick, add the remaining ½ cup stock.  
  29. Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer the gravy to a gravy boat.
  30. Carve the turkey.  
  31. Pass the gravy boat and the dishes of fennel salt at the table.

Make ahead tips:

You can make the fennel butter a few days ahead and store covered and refrigerated.

You can make the fennel-salt-pepper rub a few days ahead and store tightly covered at room temperature.