Instead of roasting your turkey whole, try breaking it down first instead. That way you can give each part the attention it deserves -- more oven time for the breasts, a quick sear for the legs, and an overnight herb-and-spice rub for all. The result is juicy, flavorful white and dark meat, plus perfectly crisp skin.

Martha Stewart Living, November 2017


Credit: Louise Hagger

Recipe Summary

55 mins
15 hrs


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Place turkey, breast-side up, on a work surface. Pull a leg away from body; slice through skin between breast and drumstick. Turn turkey on its side. Bend leg back till thighbone pops out of socket. Cut through joints and skin to detach leg completely. Repeat on other side. With turkey still on its side, pull a wing away from body. Cut through joints; remove wing. Repeat on other side. Lift turkey and, with kitchen shears, cut downward through rib cage and then shoulder joints to separate breast from back. Cut back in half crosswise (so it will fit in pot). You can ask your butcher to do this -- just make sure you still get all bones and wings.

  • Make turkey stock: Place turkey back, neck, and wings in a stockpot; add 12 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 3 hours. Strain. (You should have 6 to 7 cups stock.)

  • Meanwhile, toast fennel and coriander seeds and peppercorns in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, swirling pan occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool completely. Set aside 2 tablespoons of toasted spices; grind remainder in a spice grinder. Add 5 teaspoons salt and thyme; stir to combine. Rub mixture all over turkey breast and legs (both skin side and meat side). Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.

  • Remove turkey from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature 1 hour, 30 minutes. During last 30 minutes, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pat turkey dry. Spread butter over breast. Arrange onion and fennel slices in the center of a large roasting pan (to create a rack for turkey breast). Scatter garlic around onion. Place turkey breast on vegetable rack. Roast 20 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, heat a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high. Swirl in oil. Add turkey legs, skin-sides down, and cook until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip skin-sides up; add thyme sprigs and wine. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Add 3 1/2 cups stock and reserved toasted spices; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes.

  • Remove roasting pan from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Add legs to pan, skin-sides up, along with liquid from skillet; meat sides should be partially submerged but skin should sit above liquid. Return to oven and roast, basting turkey with pan juices every 20 minutes, until a thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast (nearest but not touching bone) reads 155 degrees, about 1 hour, 10 minutes.

  • Transfer turkey to a cutting board (tent with foil to keep warm, if desired). Remove and discard onion; reserve garlic. Strain cooking liquid into a medium saucepan; let stand 15 minutes. Skim and discard fat. Transfer 1/2 cup liquid to a small bowl; whisk in flour, then whisk mixture back into saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Carve turkey; serve, with gravy and roasted garlic, garnished with pomegranates, kumquats, oranges, and gooseberries.