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Steamed and Roasted Turkey

January 8, 2013

Did you notice Jacques Pepin’s recipe for Steamed and Roasted Turkey in the New York Times on November 12, 2012? It caught my eye, and then I was excited to learn that my nephew was going to try it for our family’s Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey was excellent, with a crispy skin and breast meat that wasn’t too dry. (Here’s an interesting article by Jeff Gardinier about the steam and roast method.)

After Christmas I decided to give the Steamed and Roasted Turkey a try myself. I had inherited a huge pot from my mom and it easily held my 12-pound turkey.

We had Jacques’ sauce on Thanksgiving, along with traditional gravy. The sauce was really good, but I decided to use the broth to make the gravy I usually make for my post-holiday turkey dinner.

If you have a pot that’s large enough, I definitely recommend this method. If you don’t have a large pot, my Holiday Roast Turkey is easy and I’ve always had good results with it.


Turkey is done


Steamed and Roasted Turkey

(Adapted from Jacques Pepin’s recipe in The New York Times, which was adapted from his recipe in Jacques Pepin Celebrates)


(print the recipe)


For the Turkey:

1 12-pound turkey

2 carrots, each cut into about 4 pieces

1 large onion, cut into large pieces

For the Glaze:

½ cup apple cider

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 teaspoon Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce

½ teaspoon salt


1. Remove the neck, gizzard, heart and liver from the cavity of the turkey. Reserve the neck, gizzard, and heart for broth, if desired. (I toss the liver, but Jacques recommends sautéing it in a bit of butter, seasoning with salt and pepper, and enjoying it as a snack.)

2. Make a cut about 1 ½ inches long and about 1-inch deep where the thighs connect to the body and where the wings connect to the breast.

Making cuts in the turkey


3. Put a small rack in the pot. If you don’t have one, you can improvise. I used 3 balls of heavy-duty foil and put a wire rack on top of that to raise the turkey off bottom of the pot.

Foil and rack in large pot


4. Put the turkey in the pot and add 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat so it is simmering, and steam for about 30 minutes.

Turkey in the pot


This photo gives you an idea of how large my pot is!

Turkey steaming


5. Combine the apple cider, cider vinegar, Tabasco, and salt in a small bowl for the glaze.

6. After the turkey has steamed for 30 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and let it cool a bit so the turkey is easier to handle.

7. Preheat the oven to 375˚. When the oven is hot, put the turkey breast-side up on a rack in a roasting pan. (Reserve the broth that is in the pot.) Add 3 cups of water to the roasting pan and scatter the onion pieces and carrots in the water around the turkey.

8. Roast the turkey for 30 minutes. Brush the turkey with the glaze and roast for about 1½ hours longer, basting occasionally. Add a bit more water to the pan if it’s starting to evaporate too much. You want to maintain about 2 ½ – 3 cups water in the roasting pan. The turkey is done when an instant read thermometer shows at least 165˚ when it’s inserted in the thickest part of the breast.

Basting the turkey with the cider glaze

Basting the turkey


9. While the turkey is roasting, put the reserved broth from the pot in a saucepan. Add the neck, gizzards, and heart. Bring to a boil, partially cover, and simmer until it is reduced to about 4 cups. It will take about 1 hour. (The neck, gizzards, and heart can be reserved and the meat cut off to make giblet gravy or Jacques’ sauce, if desired. I usually just toss them.)

10. When the turkey is done, put the turkey on a platter and loosely cover with heavy-duty foil. Let it rest for about 30 minutes.

11. Let the broth in the roasting pan rest for about 5 minutes. Then skim off as much fat as you can. Reserve the fat to use for gravy, if desired. Strain the broth and combine it with the broth in the sauce pan. Use 4 cups of the broth to make gravy while the turkey rests. Any extra broth can be frozen.



(Adapted from Julia Child’s recipe in The Way to Cook)


(Update 11/22/17: I’ve started adding a bit of fish sauce to the gravy. It adds umami, not a fishy flavor.)


Makes about 2½ cups, serving 8.


If you don’t have enough turkey broth, use what you have and add chicken broth to make 4 cups.


½ cup Turkey fat, skimmed from the top of the broth in the roasting pan

If you don’t have ½ cup turkey fat, add enough unsalted butter to make a total of ½ cup fat

¼ cup flour (or potato flour for gluten-free)

4 cups turkey broth

1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (optional; adds umami, not fishy flavor)

Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Melt the butter in the turkey fat over medium heat in a large skillet.

2. When the butter is melted, add the flour to make the roux. Cook, stirring constantly, for a few minutes. The roux will turn brown.

3. Remove the pan from the heat. Pour some of the broth in the pan and whisk vigorously until it is smooth and lump-free.

4. Whisk in the rest of the broth. Whisk in the optional fish sauce if using.

5. Put the pan back on the burner; reduce the heat so it is just simmering. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. Marney Webster permalink
    September 7, 2018 4:05 pm

    You can use way fewer dishes by only using a roasting pan, and cover that with foil (several pieces folded over twice length-wise 1/4 inch and tucked under the rim tightly) for the steaming part, remove the foil cover, reserve the stock in a separate container and proceed with the roasting steps. One less huge pot to clean!

    • September 7, 2018 4:33 pm

      That sounds like a great idea, Marney! Thanks so much for your comment. 🙂


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