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Petrini's Ultimate Turkey Recipe

Petrini's was a small, upscale grocery chain in San Francisco area that no longer exists; I really miss it.

They had a printed sheet on how to cook turkey and I've used this with success so I'd like to pass it on.

Remove turkey from the bag. After removing neck and giblets from body cavity (BOTH ENDS), rinse bird with cold water. Pat all over (inside and out) with paper towels. Rub body and neck cavities with salt and, if desired, stuff loosely. Truss neck cavity with metal skewer or string and tie legs tightly to tail.

Rub entire turkey with a paste made of the following:

2 oz. Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter (soft)
2 Tablespoons Salt
2 Tablespoons Paprika
2 Tablespoons White Pepper

Place bird in open pan, breast side up. (I put it on a rack; this year, I might try breast side down the first hour.) Add 8 ozs. water and 8 ozs. turkey broth. Place in a 325 oven. (I ALWAYS take a large piece of doubled cheesecloth and wet it with water, wring, then dip into a cube of melted butter and place this over the top of the turkey and tuck inside the pan. Later, I baste with drippings over the cheesecloth. Near the end, I lift up the cheesecloth as I baste so that it won't stick to the turkey. Sometimes, you need more broth in the pan.)

When turkey is half done, heat, DO NOT BOIL, one cup of white wine (I like a dry wine like Chablis) and 3 ozs. brandy and pour over turkey. This is the secret to a marvelous gravy.

There is no need to turn the bird while roasting as it will brown to a rich, golden color, however a piece of foil should be placed loosely over the turkey approx. the last hour of roasting. (I never do this foil step.)

When the turkey is done, the thickest part of the drumstick will feel soft or use a thermometer set at 170 F. Remove from oven, wrap with heavyduty foil. Let stand at least 30 minutes before carving.

(They say to use Bisto Gravy maker -- I bought the stuff and have never used it -- I, instead use a make ahead gravy recipe from Whole Foods that is great -- you just add your defatted juices to it. If anyone wants this, let me know.)

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    1. Please post the make ahead gravy from Whole Foods. I'd love to try it this year. Thanks!

      3 Replies
      1. re: nellybo

        Here is the recipe, paraphrased:

        Turkey Gravy .. Stress Free (Whole Foods)

        The trick is to make the backbone of the gravy ahead of time – while turkey is cooking or a day or two before – then add the drippings later.

        Makes 4 cups (I think most people should make a double batch!!)

        3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
        1/3 cup all purpose flour
        4 cups homemade turkey stock or chicken stock, heated to a simmer
        Pan drippings from one turkey, with the fat poured off
        ½ cup red or white wine (I think white is best)
        Salt & Pepper to taste

        Heat butter in large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until foaming. Then, add the flour while whisking and cook for one minute, whisking constantly.

        Pour in the hot stock, while whisking. Simmer, whisking occasionally for about a minute. Gravy can be made to this point up to two days ahead. Set aside and refrigerate (after it cools off) if not using immediately.

        When you are ready to finish the gravy, reheat it over medium heat. When turkey is done, remove it from the roasting pan. Tilt the pan and pour the fat off, leaving the drippings. Place the roasting pan on the stove burners over medium heat. Pour the wine into the pan with the drippings, stirring and scraping with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits. Don’t cook the wine down completely, just cook until alcohol smell dissipates. Pour the wine and loosened browned bits into the warm gravy and cook at a simmer for about 5 – 10 minutes. Season with S & P.

        1. re: walker

          Thanks for posting this. The most stressful part of the meal for me is right before serving; making the gravy and making sure all the side dishes are completed, plated, and hot. This looks delicious and I'll try it this year!

          1. re: nellybo

            Yes -- I never really learned how to make gravy -- all my relatives on my father's side made gravy all the time. I wish my grandmother were still alive so I could write down some of her recipes.

            This make ahead recipe really makes it easy.

      2. Thank's so much. I liked Petrinis. I have been trying to decide how to roast the bird and this sounds great.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rworange

          I know you've been researching turkeys; I've had my best success with Butterballs (under 15 lbs in order to get a hen). Safeway will have fresh and frozen ones .. I've ordered a fresh one for pick up on the 22nd. Last year I used a Kosher turkey from TJ, had to use tweezers to take off a few white feathers (I was warned about that here on CH) but I thought it was great. Another poster thought hers was "gamy." Boy, do I hate gamy (can't even stand the smell of lamb!!) so I'm a bit afraid to try the Kosher one from TJ again.

          I'm going to make stock with turkey wings -- Safeway & WF are charging the same, 2.49 lb, so I'll get from WF since I have to go there anyway. I'll roast the wings before I make the stock. This can be done a couple days ahead.

          Let me know how it all turns out for you. Oh yes, they say to take turkey out of fridge for 30 minutes (or a bit more?) before sticking into oven. Some people say to take out at 150 or 160 but I'm sticking with 170.

        2. Interesting. You don't say what size bird or how long it takes; I imagine quite a long time at only 325. Also, what kind of turkey do you buy? I've never found a reason to baste mine and it's always nice and juicy. Seems like a lot of the more recent advice suggests basting is a waste of time and heat. Anyone else here bother to baste? I'm curious too--if you wrap is tightly with foil while it rests, does the skin stay crisp?

          4 Replies
          1. re: gourmanda

            I think hens are best and I've learned that the way to make sure you get one is to get a turkey that is under 15 lbs. If you need more than this, it's best to cook 2 small ones, maybe one the day before?

            Yes, I've heard that about the basting; I do it a few times.

            I love Butterballs, Safeway here gets them in fresh so I don't have to thaw in fridge for a few days. Last year I got a Kosher from TJ and thought it was great even tho I had to pluck off a few white feathers. Another poster on CH said hers was "gamy." I really dislike gamy and did not want to take a chance on that.

            I can't remember about the skin; I think it's been fine. Maybe I haven't been wrapping that tightly.
            On the turkey pkg, it gives an estimate of the time but I use an inserted thermometer and it seems to take less time than I would expect.

            1. re: gourmanda

              I just did a test run with a 17-lb unbrined but injected bird. 325 for 10 minutes per pound, breast down except for the last hour. Remove when breast meat hits 150F. Temp will climb to 160 or so while resting. Tent very loosely while resting so skin stays crisp. Fully cooked and juicy. Turkey cooks much faster than you think it does, and is cooked much sooner. No basting is necessary.

              1. re: acgold7

                Did you make the paste to smear all over? Did you do the white wine/brandy trick?

                How did you like the turkey?

                1. re: walker

                  I was actually just commenting on the timing. I seasoned with a dry seasoning mix of my own, inside and out. No liquid, but it sounds like a nice idea. I guess you could call mine sort of a "dry run," if you will.

            2. I love the addition of the brandy in the gravy. some people have very heavy hands when pouring the alcohol in and the outcome is booze gravy, who wants that? a once tipsy semi family member poured a 1 cup measuring cup of bourbon in the gravy, the result not at all used or enjoyed.

              appreciate a sharer, thank you for giving us a good amount of knowledge on the often daunting task of perfectly preparing a bird. there's nothing better than a moist bird.

              1. This is the same recipe that is on the Diestel turkey packaging, except for the brandy. I have used it every year because it is so good I don't want to experiment with anything else. I might try the brandy this year - hopefully my oven won't explode! I like the cheesecloth idea too; I'll give it a try.
                I do brine my bird overnight as well, using the old SF Chronicle brine recipe they post (or used to) every year.

                5 Replies
                1. re: pcdarnell

                  I don't brine because I don't want the juices (for gravy) to be too salty.

                  1. re: walker

                    Brined turkeys make perfect gravy. . Just use unsalted broth

                  2. re: pcdarnell

                    Hmmm ... I don't remember the recipe, but maybe that is why Diestel has always been a success for me ... I follow their instructions. I'm getting a different brand this year, so this is a big help. I never brine either because of the salt and don't like the texture as much in a brined bird.

                    1. re: rworange

                      It looks like they don't use white pepper or the white wine/brandy later on.


                      1. re: walker

                        They mention the white wine as an option under the gravy instructions on that site. On the bird packaging, I recall it saying something like, "The key to a great gravy is...", then the wine instruction.

                  3. Thank you !!!

                    From now on, that paste will be what I regularily use for turkey. It gave the most gorgeous color and everyone ooohhhed when they saw it. My normally blase about food stepdaughts whipped out cameras to photograph it.

                    I haven't made gravy yet from the pan drippings ... there is only so much I can do personally on Thanksgiving and gravy has never been my sthrength. I bought that. However, I saved the pan drippings and will give it a try when I have time.

                    Also didn't do the cheesecloth because I got to that point and thought "damn, I knew I forgot something".

                    Still, it was a beautiful bird. The skin was crispy and flavorful

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: rworange

                      I was so happy to share this great recipe with everyone.

                      After I got mine stuffed, I didn't have the energy to try to do breast side down like some others suggested; I did not "sew" up anything, just stuck some heavy duty foil around opening to keep the stuffing in. I did use the cheesecloth trick.

                      What brand of turkey did you buy? I got a fresh Butterball from Safeway and it was so excellent. I cooked it to 170 and the white meat is not dry AT ALL. Best part was the white meat sandwich today!!

                      We were too full for dessert (a pumpkin pie from Costco). I don't know how others serve multiple desserts. Had a centerpiece of satumas with the leaves and it was perfect.

                      Oh yes, I had the BEST gravy I've ever made. A couple days before I made wonderful stock from roasted turkey wings. I then made WF make ahead gravy starter then yesterday added the turkey drippings -- great. This year I used a new gadget, called "Swing A Way" for separating juice from grease -- worked perfectly. It's important not to add salt to the stock because the drippings from the turkey are salty enough.

                      1. re: walker

                        Here's the fat separator: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_...

                        Also, rworange: did you do the brandy/white wine trick?

                        1. re: walker

                          I hear you about being tired. I've probably never tied or sewed a thing in my life ... legs or opening. There was some litle plastic thingy holding the legs together and I contemplated if it was oven safe, couldn't find my glasses and read the small print about directions on the plastic wrap. So, didn't bother. I do like the little crunchy stuffing outside if the opening isn't sowed ... and I think it looks nice.

                          I got a local bird, Branigan


                          Usually I get a Diestal which has been fool-proof for me. Moving up the food chain for me usually isn';t noticable. However, going back down, I notice. One year the price got to me and I got a frozen supermarket bird and it was pretty bad compared to the Diestel. But one turkey comparison on the web put Butterball at the top of the turkeys they tested.

                          Yes, definatly did the brandy/wine thing, though I didn't baste. I was running on empty and using a new to me oven. I pulled out the turkey to baste the first time and the rack tipped perilously. I went "eh", decided not to baste and threw some alunum foil on top.

                          The breast was a bit dryer than usual, but isn;t that the point of gravy?

                          Yes, because I used the wine/brandy, that is why I saved the juices and will be making gravy in the next day or so to see what it tastes like.

                          I didn't have white pepper either. Again ... really tired ... and I contemplated abandoning the paste, but common sense finally kicked in and I decided it wasn't a game breaker where the wine/brandy would have been.

                          I was annoyed because after moving and replacing my spices a few weeks ago I was eyeing the white and pink peppercorns. I passed because I was already spending $$$ and decided I wasn't going to be using white pepper probably in the future. Sigh.

                          1. re: rworange

                            I got a big glass jar of the Archer Farms white pepper at Target; I'm sure it was a great price and it's fine. You need 2 Tbl and that'd take a while to hand grind.

                    2. Hi Walker - hoping you'll read this.

                      I still have my instruction sheet from Petrini's, from perhaps 1991 or 1992, and made the turkey successfully then. The ingredients for the paste are slightly different from your listing, however. My recipe indicates 1 T. of Salt and 1 T. of White Pepper. Your list doubles both of them and I'm wondering if you noticed any excess saltiness or pepperiness.

                      This year, I'm going to use the Petrini's technique again. However, since I'm going to dry brine the turkey first, a la the LA Times recipe, I think I may leave the salt out of the paste.

                      I'll be doing a practice run with a chicken this weekend. :-)

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: goodeatsgal

                        Not that long ago, I came across the original flyer from Petrini; long ago I typed up the recipe. I really really think I typed it up the right way from my flyer -- long row of 2's. I moved out of Marin (where I got my flyer) in '92, don't remember how long I had it before I moved.

                        For years I've used the 2 Tbl of all and it's always perfect; I use a 14 lb turkey. When that flyer turns up, I'll look again.

                        I've tried a dry brine with salt for chicken and I did not like it, meat was grayish and texture was different. I just remove wrapper day before, wash with cold water in and out and dry well with paper towels and leave uncovered in fridge.

                        1. re: goodeatsgal

                          So I used the Petrini's technique on a roast chicken that I had salted for only about 6 hours (according to the LA Times recipes, I should have salted for longer). I left the salt out of the paste and rubbed the paste underneath and on top of the skin. This chicken was tested against a salted-only chicken that we grilled. Both chickens were good, but the Petrini's chicken had more flavor. Not sure how to describe it, but it was a little more savory and richer tasting.

                          So, I'm going to use the Petrini's technique for our turkeys. I may, however, try to amp it up more -- by adding dried herbs to the salt mixture. I'm thinking of using sage, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and perhaps some finely grated lemon peel. Anyone have a different, preferred herb salt mixture?

                        2. Just saw this, thanks! I lived near Petrini Plaza on Fulton and really liked that market. I will give this a try.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: tcamp

                            I unwrap the turkey the day before, wash in cold water, dry with paper towels (VIVA) thoroughly, inside and out, then I leave in fridge in one of those heavy duty disposable pans .. next day I cook it on a rack in All Clad roasting pan.

                          2. I've been brining my turkey every year for the past 10. I getting kind of tired of that now. This recipe sounds really good, so I will be making a Petrini's Ultimate Turkey this year. Thanks!

                            1 Reply
                            1. I made a Turkey this weekend for use at home. We are traveling out of town for Thanksgiving next week.
                              I used a modified Petrini's Ultimate Turkey Recipe.
                              My modified paste:
                              2 Tbsp Olive Oil
                              2 Tbsp melted Butter
                              1 Tbsp Lawry's Seasoning Salt
                              1 Tbsp ground Black Pepper (family said they didn't want the taste white pepper on the turkey)
                              I painted the paste all over the outside of the turkey with silicone BBQ brush. Added a few pieces chopped onion, chopped celery and chopped carrots to inside of turkey (loosely, not packed). Added 2 cups of chicken broth to roasting pan.
                              The 14 lb turkey was cooked on a rack in a closed roasting pan at 325-F for about 3 hours. Removed lid, took temperature and let turkey brown for about 1/2 hour. Didn't baste the bird. Didn't pour white wine or brandy over it.
                              The recipe turned out really good. Also made really good gravy from the drippings. Didn't have to add seasoning to the gravy. Ended up with about 7 cups of drippings and made gravy from about half of it. Saving remainder of drippings for later.