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James Beard's Favorite Roast Turkey

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18- to 20-pound turkey with the liver, gizzard, and heart reserved
1 onion, stuck with 2 whole cloves
1 sprig parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 quart water
1/2 lemon
8 to 12 Tablespoons butter, softened
freshly ground pepper
strips of fresh or salt pork (or substitute bacon rinds)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup Cognac or Madeira (optional)
1 to 1-1/2 cups butter
1 cup finely chopped shallots (or substitute finely chopped scallions)
1-1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon, or 3 Tablespoons fresh tarragon, finely chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup pine nuts
10 to 12 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 or 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (optional)

Make the stuffing first. Melt 1/2 cup of the butter in a heavy skillet (12 inch if possible). Add the shallots or scallions and the tarragon, and allow to cook until the shallots are just wilted. Add 1 Tablespoon of salt, the pepper and pine nuts, and then additional melted butter as needed: I should say another 1/2 cup to 1 cup, depending on the amount the shallots have absorbed. Finally, add the crumbs and toss well. Taste the mixture and, if required, add more of any of the ingredients. A clove or two of garlic may also be added to the mixture.

Remove the neck from the bird, if that has not already been done, and put the neck in a 2-quart saucepan with the liver, gizzard, heart, and the onion, parsley, 2 teaspoons of salt, and the thyme. Add the water, bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, skimming. Then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Drain and reserve the stock for the sauce. If you like, chop the gizzard, heart, and liver to add to the sauce.

Clean turkey inside and out. Rub the inside of the turkey with the lemon. Fill the body cavity and neck cavity with stuffing, but not too tightly, the crumbs should remain somewhat loose. Truss the turkey. Close the vent of the bird; either secure with skewers and twine or sew it up. Tie the legs together firmly, and then tie them to the tail of the bird. Massage the turkey well with about 4 Tablespoons softened butter, and then salt and pepper it. Line a rack with strips of fresh or salt pork or with bacon rind, which you can sometimes buy from you butcher when he cuts down a whole slab.

Set the rack in a fairly shallow roasting pan and place the turkey, breast side down, on the rack. Roast for 1 hour in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then reduced to 325 degrees. Remove the pan from the oven, turn the turkey on one side and rub with half of the remaining softened butter. Return the turkey to the oven and roast for another hour. Remove the pan from the oven, turn the turkey on its back and rub the breast with the remaining butter. Return to the oven and continue roasting till the turkey is done.

Remove from the oven and place on a hot platter. Allow the turkey to rest for 15 minutes if being served hot. If being served tepid, let it cool gently at room temperature. Remove all the twine and skewers. Remove the stuffing.

For the sauce, pour off all the fat, save 4 Tablespoons, from the roasting pan. Discard the excess fat. Over medium heat, add the flour to the pan and blend thoroughly, scraping to loosen bits of caramelized dripping. If there are any juices on the platter beneath the turkey, add those (skimmed of fat) as well. Gradually stir in 2 cups or more of the turkey stock and cook, stirring constantly, till the mixture thickens. Correct the seasoning. Add the giblets, if you like, and Cognac or Madeira, and simmer about 4 or 5 minutes. Serve with the turkey and stuffing.

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