Thanksgiving dinners may be smaller this year to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but that doesn't mean they can't include big flavor.
To craft the menu for a perfect intimate gathering, PEOPLE enlisted the help of celebrity chefs like Curtis Stone and Ree Drummond. Stone took on the main event by sharing his Creole Roast Turkey and Gravy recipe.
"Keeping the holidays simple and stress-free is important," says the star of PBS’s Field Trip with Curtis Stone. "I love this recipe because it’s no-fuss but has a flavorful twist with the creole-spiced gravy."
Stone — who recently launched a pop-up restaurant at The Grove called Picnic Society by Gwen in Los Angeles — uses a "super straightforward" method for his bird. By brining the turkey overnight in a simple mixture of water, herbs and a creole-seasoning blend, you get a turkey that's juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. It's complemented by a lightly-spiced gravy that comes together in just 20 minutes.
Get Stone's full recipe below, and for more Thanksgiving recipes, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE on stands now.
Curtis Stone’s Creole Roast Turkey and Gravy
6½ qts. cold water, divided
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
¾ cup kosher salt
⅓ cup, plus 2 Tbsp., plus 2 tsp. creole-seasoning blend, divided
3 (4-in.) rosemary sprigs, divided
1 (10-lb.) whole fresh (not frozen) turkey
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped (2 cups), divided
2 medium green bell peppers, coarsely chopped (3 cups), divided
2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped (3 cups), divided
¾ cup (6 oz.) unsalted butter, divided
4 cups lower-sodium chicken stock
3 (4-in.) thyme sprigs
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. black pepper
1. Bring 1 quart cold water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add sugar, ¾ cup kosher salt and ⅓ cup seasoning blend; cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add 2 rosemary sprigs, and remove from heat.
2. Pour hot brine into heatproof, food-safe container large enough to hold turkey; add remaining 5½ quarts cold water. Remove and discard giblets and neck from turkey. Place turkey in brine, making sure it is submerged. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 350°. Remove turkey from brine; discard brine, reserving rosemary sprigs. Pat turkey skin dry with paper towels. Stuff main turkey cavity with half of celery, half of bell peppers, half of onions and reserved brined rosemary sprigs; tie turkey legs together with twine.
4. Melt ½ cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove pan from heat; stir in 2 tablespoons seasoning blend.
5. Place remaining celery, bell peppers and onions in bottom of roasting pan. Set roasting rack in pan, and place turkey on rack. Brush spiced butter evenly all over turkey.
6. Cover pan with foil, and bake for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Remove foil, and baste turkey with pan juices. Continue baking, uncovered, until a meat thermometer inserted into the part of the thigh nearest the hip joint reads 165°, an additional 1 hour and 20 minutes.
7. Remove roasting pan from oven, and transfer turkey to a carving board. Let turkey rest 30 to 45 minutes. Do not clean roasting pan.
8. Set roasting pan on stove over medium-high heat. Add stock, thyme sprigs and remaining rosemary sprig to drippings in pan, and bring mixture to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes, stirring often to scrape up browned bits. Strain pan juices into a small bowl; discard solids. Let pan juices sit 5 minutes. Spoon off fat that has settled to top of juices.
9. Melt remaining ¼ cup butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in remaining 2 teaspoons seasoning blend; cook, stirring constantly, until spices are fragrant and toasted, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour; cook, stirring often, 2 minutes. Whisk in pan juices, and bring to a simmer over medium high. Reduce heat to medium low, and simmer until gravy has thickened and reduced by half, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with pepper. Carve turkey, and serve with gravy.
Active time: 1 hour
Total time: 4 hours, plus 8 hours brining
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