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Tender and juicy turkey perfect for Thanksgiving day. Plus instructions on how to make turkey stock, gravy and stuffing too! 
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5 from 4 votes

Julia Child's Deconstructed Thanksgiving Turkey

Tender and juicy turkey perfect for Thanksgiving day. Plus instructions on how to make turkey stock, gravy and stuffing too!
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10
Calories: 783kcal
Author: Serene


  • 10-12 pound turkey

For Turkey Thighs:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp chopped sage

Brine Solution:

  • 12 cups water
  • ½ cup salt

Garlic Herb Butter for Turkey:

  • ¼ cup butter softened to room temperature
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp rosemary chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme chopped
  • 1 tsp sage chopped
  • 1 tsp parsley chopped
  • zest of 1 small lemon

Turkey Stock:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Bones removed from the turkey plus any other scraps
  • 4 cups chicken broth low sodium
  • 3 stalks celery chopped
  • 2 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 stem rosemary with leaves
  • 3 stems thyme with leaves
  • ¼ cup parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Turkey Gravy 


  • 1 loaf white sandwich bread
  • ½ cup yellow onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme chopped
  • 1 tsp sage chopped
  • 4 large eggs beaten


Deconstruct the Turkey:

  • Using a sharp knife, cut through the skin around each thigh where it attaches to breast. Push the leg forward to pop the bone out of the socket. Cut through joint to separate leg quarter.
  • With your knife, cut along the sides of each thigh bone to separate it from the meat, then slide knife under bone to free it. Cut around the end of the bone where it connects, and find the soft cartilage connecting the bones and slice through to remove the thigh bone completely.
  • Sprinkle the inside of each thigh with salt, pepper, and chopped sage. Close the thigh back up by using two wooden skewers and then tying it closed with kitchen twine. Place the thighs on a plate or in a dish and cover with plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for 6-12 hours while rest of turkey brines.
  • Using sharp kitchen shears, cut through ribs along the side of the backbone.
  • Using your hands bend the backbone away from the breast to pop the shoulder joint out of socket. Then cut through the joint (the soft cartilage) to separate back from breast.
  • Prepare the brining solution. Pour into a large pot or container that will fit the turkey and will fit inside your fridge. Brine the turkey breast for 6-12 hours.

Cooking the Turkey and Stuffing:

  • Preheat the oven to 300°F. Slice the bread into small square cubes. Spread the bread out in a single layer on a large baking sheet lined with foil or a silicone baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the bread is dried and crunchy. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for several minutes and then pour bread into a large bowl.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat melt the butter, add the onion and allow it to cook for about 3 minutes until soft and translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds until fragrant. Pour this mixture over the dried bread.
  • Remove the turkey breast from the fridge. Pat dry with paper towels. Prepare the garlic herb butter by mixing all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Use half of the butter on the turkey breast, rubbing into the skin.
  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Heat a large oven safe skillet over medium high heat. Once heated place the turkey breast in the skillet skin side down. Sear the skin for about 2 minutes then move the skillet to the oven and continue baking at 425°F for 30 minutes.
  • While the turkey is baking, beat the eggs and mix into the stuffing mixture. Pour the stuffing into a large roasting pan. Once the turkey is done baking for 30 minutes remove from the oven, carefully use two towels to protect your hands and transfer the turkey breast into the roasting pan breast side up on top of the stuffing. Add the turkey thighs to the roasting pan on top of the stuffing as well. Coat the thighs with the remaining garlic herb butter. Take the time to ensure all the stuffing is under the turkey to keep it from cooking too much.
  • Reduce the heat in the oven to 350°F. Bake the turkey and stuffing for an additional 50-75 minutes, to where when you place a meat thermometer in the breast the temperature is at least 160-165. The thighs should be at 175 to 180.
  • Remove from the oven and allow the turkey to rest for about 20 minutes prior to cutting.
  • Stir the stuffing to mix with the juices from the turkey.

Prepare the Turkey Stock and Gravy: (can be done at any time after deconstructing the turkey)

  • In a large pot over medium heat add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add in the turkey neck and bones. Allow to sear in the oil for several minutes. Then pour in the chicken stock and add the celery, onion, carrots, and herbs. Bring to a boil. Allow this to simmer for about 30-45 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh strainer and collect the liquid in a bowl. Discard the scraps and herbs.
  • Allow the stock to sit and cool for about 20 minutes, this will allow the fat to separate and gather at the top so that you can skim it off with a spoon.
  • To make the gravy, heat a medium size pot over medium heat. Add in the butter and cook until melted. Stir in the flour and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes until the flour is browned. Pour in the turkey stock. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for about 5-7 minutes until the gravy is thickened.


Calories: 783kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 79g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 322mg | Sodium: 7070mg | Potassium: 1005mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 2811IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 267mg | Iron: 6mg