Food & Wine Magazine: November Cover Recipe

Cider-Glazed Turkey with Lager Gravy

Rating: 5 out of 5 (the moistest, most golden turkey EVER!)

Initial Thoughts: Just breathe. You are a talented cook. Think of it as a giant chicken. Visualize the deliciousness. Breathe.

THE TEST: No matter which magazine I’ve committed to making cover recipes, the November issue is always at the back of my mind throughout the year. You know it’s gonna be a turkey. Usually a whole bird. Probably something that involves a new and exciting twist on the traditional. And as someone with limited experience cooking turkeys…let’s just say the intimidation level is high.

My fears? That it will be too dry. That it will taste – well, boring. That I will spend $60+ dollars on a turkey that people hate and it all goes to waste. That it will burn. That it will be undercooked. That it will take longer to cook than specified in the recipe and by 9pm my guests are famished and grumpy, the side dishes cold and dried out or wilty.

Growing up it was usually ham or a turkey breast roll that graced our holiday table, so I don’t have any family secrets to lean on or inherited turkey master genes. I must rely completely on the recipe and hope for the best! So when I saw this year’s Food & Wine Magazine’s Thanksgiving cover recipe was developed by none other than Iron Chef Michael Symon, I relaxed. Slightly.

By the way, did anyone else notice the recurring theme of apple cider this year?! Aside from Food & Wine Magazine, Bon Appétit featured a cider based turkey as did Canadian Living. Guess it must be apple cider’s five minutes of fame.

Believing that brining a turkey makes the meat rubbery, Chef Symon prefers to salt it well and refrigerate overnight. After last year’s success with Bon Appétit Magazine’s Salt-Roasted Turkey with Lemon & Oregano, I had complete faith in this type of preparation. As the turkey sits, the salt draws moisture to the skin and while cooking creates a flavourful liquid that seasons the meat and keeps it moist.

After stuffing the turkey with an assortment of flavour inducing ingredients (including a granny smith apple, jalapeño, head of garlic and fresh sage leaves), cheesecloth that’s been soaked in cider-infused melted butter is draped over the turkey breasts and legs and kept on for the entire cooking period.

Trust me when I say it makes your house smell incredible within minutes of putting the turkey into the oven.

Some of the butter splashed onto the bottom of the oven while cooking, causing smoke to immediately billow up. Solution? Sprinkle table salt over the spill and voilà – no more smoke. (Thanks Mom for a great tip that has saved me countless times!)

Preparing the gravy takes some time, the process rather lengthy and involved. In fact, the instructions for making the gravy takes up more space in the recipe than the directions for the turkey! You start by sautéing the turkey neck, wing tips and giblets, and then make a roux before simmering the lager spiked gravy for approximately 1 ½ hours. Once the turkey is finished cooking, add the drippings to the gravy and season with salt and pepper. NOTE: the recipe calls for seasoning and cooking the turkey liver and puréeing it to add to the gravy. I couldn’t quite bring myself to go that far and my results were still delicious, although I have heard that the liver can add great flavour.

THE RESULTS: In Canada we have our Thanksgiving holiday in October, so because of the cover recipe challenge I end up hosting what my friend Ashley calls “Fakes-giving Dinner”. It’s become a fun tradition! I love having friends and family over on a random night for a full on turkey dinner…it’s a pleasurable excuse to cook up a big meal and has become a semi-holiday in our house.

After removing the crispy cheesecloth once the turkey had finished cooking, our eyes were greeted with the most glorious, golden turkey EVER. People kept commenting that it was so perfect looking it almost seemed fake!

The meat was moan worthily moist. The breast meat so juicy you would swear you were eating chicken! The richness of the butter was perfectly complimented by the slight hint of sage, and the gravy was full of robust turkey flavour. It was poured liberally by everyone over their entire plates! Mr. Spock ended up adding a dash of freshly grated nutmeg to the gravy which was fantastic and added a nice depth. A score of 5 was awarded by everyone, including my 1 ½ year-old niece who up until this point had been staging a nice hunger strike.

Big thumbs up!

Cover Recipe:
Cider-Glazed Turkey with Lager Gravy

NOTE: This month’s wine pairing once again comes courtesy of our resident wine expert, Kendall Harris, who’s suggested pinot noir by The Show was a HUGE hit at our table! Light and waaaaaay to easy to drink, this wine paired perfectly with the richness of the meal. Thanks Kendall!


Wine Pairing by Kendall Harris of Wine2Three

Kendall Harris shares her adventures in the wine world as Wine2three on Twitter & Facebook. She is WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) Advanced Certified & is currently developing a weekly wine series on ShawTV, where she is a full time reporter. Join her on Facebook – click LIKE at for regular fun wine info!

Pinot Noir is a classic wine pairing with Thanksgiving Dinner, for several reasons. The Pinot Noir grape is a thin-skinned grape, resulting in a lighter-bodied wine that matches beautifully with lighter meats like turkey. Pinot Noir also typically displays flavours of cherry and raspberry, which go well with Thanksgiving’s ubiquitous cranberry sauce. I recommend The Show’s 2010 Pinot Noir, made from grapes grown in the cool Leyda Valley in Chile, which is becoming renowned for its Pinot Noir. This particular wine is made by three well known American winemakers who call themselves the Three Thieves. The idea is they take their “Show” on the road and travel the world, “stealing” (buying at a great price) the best grapes from the best winemaking regions to make award-winning wines. This wine has a beautiful, smoky bouquet, with flavours of wild cherry, rich plum, and hints of spice. It’s elegant, smooth and delicious, and for less than $20 in Canada, it’s a steal from the Three Thieves!  

As part of my culinary New Year’s resolutions, I have committed to creating each month’s cover recipe from Food & Wine Magazine.

NOTE: If any of you would like to follow along with me and join in on the fun, I’d love to compare notes! So pick-up a copy of the latest issue of Food & Wine and get cooking. Be sure to send your comments and photos to

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