Monica’s Classic Roast Turkey

Monica's Classic Roast Turkey

Monica’s Classic Roast Turkey, excerpted from FRIENDSGIVING: The Official Guide to Hosting, Roasting, and Celebrating with Friends by Shoshana Stopek. Copyright © 2020. Photography by © Getty Images.

FRIENDSGIVING: The Official Guide to Hosting, Roasting, and Celebrating with Friends by Shoshana Stopek. Copyright © 2020.

In part one of Friendsgiving you’ll find recipes like Righteous Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Neslé Toulouse Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. Part two is filled with Friends-style entertaining tips, such as creating the ultimate Friendsgiving playlist and DIY-ing party decorations. Part three keeps the fun going with Pin the Tail on Ugly Naked Guy, Unagi Pictionary, and many more activities.

Filled with full-colour photos, quotes, and highlighting memorable moments from the show throughout, Friendsgiving is a delightful compendium of ideas for celebrating holidays, special occasions, or anytime festivities with your favourite people.

Friendsgiving: The Official Guide to Hosting, Roasting, and Celebrating with Friends is available at and

Monica’s Classic Roast Turkey

Inspired by: “The One With the Rumor”

Cooking a whole turkey can seem intimidating, but it’s actually not hard if you take it step by step, give it a whole lotta love and devotion, and baste the hell out of it. Many recipes suggest basting with butter, but butter burns at a high temperature and can create a smoky oven, so it’s best to use extra-virgin olive oil and make a paste with some flavorful seasonings. Roasting low and slow as described in this method will yield a succulent turkey. It’s also recommended that you get a turkey baster for basting, which is much easier than trying to wedge a spoon under the rack. Please don’t attempt to eat an entire turkey in one sitting like Joey.


1 (12- to 14-pound) frozen turkey, thawed

1 tablespoon salt, plus more for seasoning the turkey

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning the turkey

4 ribs celery

2 medium carrots

1 yellow onion

3 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil, plus more if needed

2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 teaspoons dried sage

1 teaspoon paprika

1 bunch fresh thyme

1 bunch fresh sage

1–2 cups chicken stock or water, plus more if needed

Friendsgiving Gravy (see recipe at bottom)

The first order of business when roasting a turkey is to clean and dry it thoroughly. To save time, do this the day before you plan to cook it. Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey cavity and save them for later if you’re going to use them; otherwise, discard. Then, place the turkey in a roasting pan and season it on all sides with the salt and pepper. For crispier skin, chef Ina Garten recommends leaving the turkey uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. As she explains in her recipe for Make-Ahead Roast Turkey, this will allow the skin to dry out and turn a little translucent.

When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350°F and set the turkey in the pan on the counter. The turkey will be moist after being in the fridge, so dry it completely by blotting it with paper towels, top, bottom, inside, and outside.

Slice the celery crosswise into half-moons. Peel the carrots and cut them into chunks. Peel the onion and cut it into quarters. Set the vegetables aside.

In a small bowl, stir the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, sage, and paprika to make a paste.

Put the turkey on a work surface and, using your hands, rub the paste over the turkey to completely coat that baby! This is important—you want to slather the paste over and under the skin thoroughly, but without ripping it.

Gently place the fresh thyme and sage inside the cavity, along with the quartered onion. Don’t stuff them!

Add the stock or water and the chopped veggies to the bottom of the roasting pan.

Put a wire rack in the roasting pan and set the turkey on the rack, so no part of the turkey touches the bottom of the pan. This will allow the turkey to crisp on both the top and bottom. If you’re feeling confident in the kitchen like Monica, tie the legs together with butcher’s twine and tuck the wings under the breasts.

Roast, uncovered, for about 2 and a half hours or more, basting every 30 minutes. (If your bird is larger or smaller, figure about 13 minutes per pound.)

Whenever you baste, make sure there is always some liquid left in the bottom of the pan so the vegetables don’t burn. Add more stock or water if needed.

Start checking for doneness during the last 45 minutes of roasting. The turkey is done when a meat thermometer inserted mid-thigh reads 165°F, per Ina Garten (and Mark Bittman). Place the pan on top of your stove and carefully tilt the turkey, still on the rack in the pan, to let the juices run out of the cavity and mix in with the vegetables.

Transfer the turkey to a platter but don’t carve it until it has rested for at least 15 minutes to allow the juices to set. Serve with Friendsgiving Gravy.


Turkey gravy is basically stock and flour. You can include the juices from your turkey once it’s done cooking (just strain them through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the cooked vegetables), or if you want to make the gravy ahead of time, then just use turkey or chicken stock. Feel free to be creative and add a little orange juice or wine to your gravy too.

4 cups turkey or chicken stock plus juices from the pan (see note above)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper

Put the stock in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the flour and stir until thoroughly combined. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the gravy has thickened and the flour is fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

Excerpted from FRIENDSGIVING: The Official Guide to Hosting, Roasting, and Celebrating with Friends by Shoshana Stopek. Copyright © 2020. Available from Running Press, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

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