Coffee-Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy by Tom Douglas

Coffee-Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy by Tom Douglas


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“Seattle is famous for its coffee. And that inspired me to stuff the turkey cavity with whole roasted coffee beans. Turns out they add a nice toasty-smoky aroma that seasons the bird from within. I leave them in even after the turkey’s done. If a few slip out at the table while I’m carving, it’s a good conversation starter.”

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Serving Size / Yield

12 servings


  • 1 fresh whole turkey, 15 pounds
  • 6 Tbs. butter, at room temperature, plus 6 tablespoons melted
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 sage leaves
  • 1⁄2 C. dark-roast coffee beans
  • 1 Tbs. rendered bacon fat, melted
  • 1 onion, cut in half lengthwise and julienned
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
  • 7 to 8 C. chicken or turkey broth, heated
  • 1⁄2 C. instant (quick-dissolving) flour such as Wondra

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Preheat the oven to 350°F.

If the turkey has a metal clamp on its legs, remove it. Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity, if included, and reserve for another use or discard. Remove the cavity fat, then rinse the turkey well and pat dry with paper towels.

In a small bowl, mash the 6 tablespoons room-temperature butter until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Using your fingers, and starting from the cavity end of the turkey, separate the skin from the breast meat, being careful not to tear the skin. Gently rub the softened butter evenly over the breast meat, then insert 6 of the sage leaves under the skin, placing 3 leaves on each breast half. Pat the skin back into place, and then brush the whole exterior of the bird with some of the melted butter. Season the turkey all over, including the cavity, with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the coffee beans
inside the cavity.

To roast the turkey: Brush the bottom of a roasting pan just large enough to accommodate the turkey with the bacon fat, then make a bed of the onion slices in the center of the pan. Place the turkey, breast side up, on top of the onion.

Place the turkey in the oven and roast for 1 hour. Baste the turkey with some of the melted butter and add the garlic, the remaining 6 sage leaves, and 5 cups of the broth to the pan. Continue to roast the turkey, basting with butter at regular intervals a few more times, for another 1 1⁄2 to 2 hours. If the turkey is browning too much, tent with aluminum foil. The turkey is done if when a thigh joint is piercedthe juices run clear, or when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh away from bone registers 155° to 165°F.

Remove the turkey from oven, transfer to a platter, and tent with
aluminum foil. Let rest for about 20 minutes.

To make the gravy: Before beginning, remove any stray coffee beans that may have escaped from the turkey
cavity into the roasting pan. Set the roasting pan with the onion slices and juices on the stove top over medium high heat. You may need to straddle the pan over two burners. Using a wooden spoon, stir up any browned bits stuck to the pan bottom and continue stirring for a few minutes. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the onion and juices and stir until well combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the broth and any juices that have collected around the turkey on the platter, then simmer gently, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. If the gravy seems too thick, add more broth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the gravy into a warmed gravy boat and keep warm. Carve the turkey and serve immediately. Pass the gravy at the table.

TOM’S TIP: If you are stuffing your turkey, be careful not to overstuff it. You want plenty of space for hot air to circulate inside the cavity so the meat cooks evenly.

Recipe courtesy of The Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving & Holiday Cookbook

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