Rich and mellow with a backdrop of fresh lemon, this turkey owes its success to the Moroccan seasoning-cum-sauce called charmoula. You could make it ahead and freeze. Think about using Charmoula with seafood, any poultry, and with lamb.

If possible, have an organically fed turkey. Allow 12 hours for brining the bird, then season it with the charmoula before roasting. Instead of stuffing, serve the turkey accompanied by either plain couscous, or couscous topped with a Moroccan-style stew of winter vegetables.

Roasting the turkey on coarse-chopped vegetables and garlic creates a rack for the bird and exceptionally good pan juices for gravy.

Ingredients

  • 12 to 13 pound turkey, brined

Charmoula seasoning:

  • 12 large cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 2 large lemons
  • Juice of 2-1/2 large lemons
  • 1 small to medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 generous tablespoon dry basil
  • 1-2/3 tightly-packed cup fresh coriander with some stems
  • 1/4 tightly-packed cup Italian parsley with stems
  • 2 generous tablespoons sweet Hungarian or California paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

For the pan:

  • 3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • Handful fresh coriander sprigs, coarsely chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • About 3 cups water

For the gravy:

  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • about 4 cups turkey broth (see body of recipe)

And...

  • 2 whole lemons

Instructions

1. Set the turkey on a large cutting board. Have a shallow roasting pan handy. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Take turkey giblets and neck and make a stock for gravy. Simmer covered by two inches of water as the bird cooks. Use a saucepan lid to partially cover the pot.

2. Combine all the charmoula ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Stuff two-thirds under turkey skin in leg and breast areas. Rub the rest over the turkey and in the cavity.

3. Spread pan ingredients in roasting pan. Set the turkey breast down on top of the pan ingredients. Roast about 13 minutes to the pound, or until an instant reading thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 180 degrees.

4. Use a big spoon to baste often with pan juices. This enriches flavors and helps crisp the skin. Add 1/2 cup water at a time as the juices threaten to burn. In the last 45 minutes of roasting, turn the bird breast side up for even browning. If skin browns too quickly, lightly cover with foil.

5. To serve, let turkey rest on a platter, lightly covered with foil, 15 to 20 minutes.

6. Make gravy by setting the roasting pan over two burners set at medium high. Add 2 cups of the turkey broth. Using a wood spatula, stir and scrape up brown bits as the juices bubble. Thicken by putting the 2 tablespoons of flour in a tall glass. Using a fork, slowly beat in about another cup of turkey broth. Beating it in a little at a time insures no lumps in the gravy. When smooth, whisk into the simmering pan gravy.

7. Continue stirring and simmering about 5 minutes, or until gravy has thickened enough to coat a spoon (add more broth if too thick), and has no raw flour taste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn into a heated sauceboat. Keep hot while you carve the turkey. Squeeze the juice of the 2 lemons over the cut-up turkey. Serve immediately with the hot gravy.