Turkey Shagbark Bourbon

Roast Turkey w/ Shagbark Bourbon Gravy

Sarah Mickey All Poultry & Game Bird Recipes, All Recipes, Shagbark Syrup Recipes, Spice Recipes, Whole Bird Recipes 2 Comments

Roast Turkey w/ Shagbark Bourbon Gravy

Pinot Noir (ideally red Burgundy)

Brining helps keep pork and poultry moist while imparting extra flavor. The bird that perhaps benefits the most from brining is turkey – its large size and bone structure make it very easy for the breast meat to dry out. Here’s how to brine your turkey with apple cider, shagbark syrup and spices, then roast it & finish it with a bourbon gravy that accentuates the flavors imparted by the brine. Delicious!

Roast Turkey w/ Shagbark Bourbon Gravy
  • Brine:
  • 2 quarts Apple Cider
  • 1 cup Kosher Salt
  • ½ cup Shagbark Hickory Syrup
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1 tsp Allspice Berries
  • ¾ tsp Black Peppercorns
  • ½ tsp Whole Cloves
  • Six 2” Strips of Orange Rind
  • 2 sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 quart Water
  • 3 quarts Ice Water (mostly ice)
  • Turkey
  • Whole Turkey (thawed if purchased frozen)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Orange
  • ½ Onion
  • 1 handful Fresh Thyme Sprigs (approx. 20 sprigs)
  • 1 tsp chopped Fresh Thyme
  • 1 handful Fresh Sage Sprigs
  • 1 tsp chopped Fresh Sage
  • 1 stick of Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 cup Chicken Stock (unsalted or lowest salt possible)
  • Gravy:
  • 6 tbsp All Purpose Flour or Wondra
  • 2 tbsp Shagbark Syrup (can substitute maple syrup)
  • 1 ½ tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Bourbon
  • 1 ½ tsp Salt
  • Unsalted or Lowest Sodium Chicken Stock


  • Make the Brine:
    Start Brining Two Days Before Roasting

combine all brine ingredients, except the ice water, in a pot and bring to a boil, stirring until all the salt is dissolved.


Remove from the heat and stir in the ice water until the ice is melted. Chill the brine completely.

Put the turkey in a large container and cover it with the brine.

Put the turkey container in your fridge or a cooler & brine for 24 hours.

  • Start Drying One Day Before Roasting:

Remove the turkey from the brine & rinse it off. Pat the turkey dry. Discard the brine.

Place the turkey in an uncovered pan in your fridge and let it air dry overnight.

  • Roasting the Bird:

Preheat your oven to 375˚F. Peel and quarter the half onion, halve the lemon and halve the orange. Remove the giblets bag from the turkey’s cavity.

Mix the softened butter with the chopped sage and thyme to make an herb butter.

Gently lift the skin away from the breast meat and legs/thighs by pushing your fingers beneath the skin. Once the skin is loosened, spread some of the herb butter under it.

Rub the outside of the bird with the remainder of the butter.

Rub the inside of the turkey’s cavity with the teaspoon of salt. Stuff the cavity with the onion, lemon, orange, thyme sprigs and sage sprigs.

Bend the wing tips so that the rest of the wings cover them, this helps keep them from burning.

Truss the turkey legs (see photo).


Place the turkey in a roasting pan on a rack. Take the neck and giblets (except the liver) from the giblet bag and place them in the bottom of the roasting pan with the cup of chicken stock.

Cover the turkey breasts with aluminum foil to protect them.

Roast the turkey in the oven for 1 ½ hrs (small bird) or up to 2 ¼ hours (large bird).

Increase the oven temperature to 425˚F and continue to roast until the legs reach an internal temperature of 165˚F-170˚F.

Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest while you prepare the gravy.

  • Preparing the Gravy:

Skim 6 tablespoons of turkey fat from the drippings in the bottom of the roasting pan. Add them to a saucepan. Set the rest of the drippings aside.

Whisk the flour or Wondra into the fat over medium heat to make a blond roux. Continue to cook, whisking, until the roux smells nutty (approx. 5 minutes).

Separate the remainder of the fat from the turkey drippings. Measure the drippings and add chicken stock (if needed) until you have three cups of liquid.

Slowly whisk the drippings/stock mixture into the roux.

Retrieve the neck and giblets from the bottom of the roasting pan. Pick the meat from the neck and mince it with the giblets. Add the neck & giblet mixture to the pot along with the shagbark syrup, cider vinegar and bourbon.

Bring the gravy to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer, while whisking, until it develops a gravy consistency. Add the salt.

Carve & serve the turkey with the gravy and your choice of sides.

Browse More:
Poultry Recipes
Spice Recipes