Paleo Apple-Bourbon Turkey and Gravy

Paleo Apple-Bourbon Turkey and Gravy
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A wonderful "fall" take on a classic Thanksgiving turkey - this bird will be the centerpiece of your feast! Mom and I experimented for years with Turkey recipes, until we found this one from the November 2011 issue of Southern Living magazine and made it our own. Now I have adapted it to be Paleo-friendly.
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: Thanksgiving
Serves: 8-10
  • 4 cups apple juice
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar (To make it Paleo, I will be substituting the brown sugar for local honey.)
  • 1 whole fresh (12-15lb) turkey
  • 4 celery ribs
  • 4 large carrots
  • 3 small apples, halved or quarters
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour (Instead of the flour, I will be substituting coconut flour. Almond flour could also be used.)
  • ½ cup chicken stock (Use mom's chicken stock recipe - it's divine!)
  • Cheese cloth
  • Kitchen string
  1. The day before Thanksgiving, combine apple juice, bourbon and honey - stirring until honey is dissolved.
  2. Clean turkey - removing giblets and neck - making sure to rinse and drain cavity well. Pat dry. Place turkey in a large roasting pan. Soak cheesecloth in marinade, then wring dry. Place cheesecloth over turkey, pouring the rest of the marinade over top. Cover and chill for 12-24 hours, basting occassionally.
  3. On Thanksgiving Day, preheat oven to 325˚. Remove turkey from the roasting pan and the cheesecloth from the turkey. Reserve 3 cups of marinade for gravy. Season turkey (inside and out) with salt and pepper - gently rubbing it into the skin. Tie legs together with kitchen twine (if yours came with a little plastic leg holder - don't forget to remove it before cooking!) and tuck wingtips underneath bird.
  4. Arrange celery, carrots and apples in the bottom of the roasting pan. Return turkey to pan, breast side up, and pour reserved marinade over top.
  5. Bake at 325˚ for 3-4 hours - the meat thermometer (placed in the thickest portion of the thigh) should read 165˚ or the little temperature button has popped (some turkeys come with this already inserted into the bird and are reliable especially if you don't have a meat thermometer.) Remember: baste turkey every 30 mins with pan juices and cover with aluminum foil after about 2 hours 30 mins to prevent excess browning. Remove from oven and let stand 30 mins.
  6. Transfer turkey to serving platter making sure to reserve 2 ½ cups of pan drippings for gravy. Strain drippings through a fine mesh strainer, keeping just the liquid.
  7. To make gravy: melt butter in saucepan over medium heat; whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly for 1-2 mins or until smooth. (This process goes rather quickly so, once the mixture is smooth, continue on to the next step.) Gradually whisk in pan drippings and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until gravy thickens (about 5 mins). If you like a thinner gravy, add up to ½ cup of chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
There is an option with this turkey to marinade for 12-24 hours prior to cooking. I usually marinade and chill the turkey the night before and take it out for cooking about 9:30-10:00 Thanksgiving morning, which is usually right around 12 hours total marinating time. You can do more. You can do less. You don't have to do this step at all. I think we've tried it with and without in previous years and both worked well.


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