Cristina Ferrare’s Turkey Marinade

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I’ve tried so many ways over the years to prepare turkey so it will have lots of flavor and not turn out dry. I’ve wrapped them in cheese clothes, soaked them in brine, deep fried, put butter over the skin, under the skin, cooked it stuffed, unstuffed, none of that works like this simple marinade. Everyone who has tried it swears that by using this marinade they end up the the most tender and juicy turkey ever. Not to mention the wonderful flavors that penetrate the turkey from the fresh herbs. The fresh herbs usually come in bundles with rubber bands wrapped around them. These fresh herbs are the secret to the most flavorful gravy.

I introduced this recipe on a local talk show I was hosting in Los Angeles called, “A.M. Los Angeles” over 25 years ago and to this day I have strangers stop me in in the streets and grocery stores to tell me how much the love it and now I have new converts! Preparing the turkey with this marinade will insure you will have plenty of gravy that you will want to put on everything!

Cristina Ferrare’s Turkey Marinade

Serving Size: 8-10


  • 1 14 to 15 pound organic turkey, empty cavity of bird and the neck and rinse well, pat dry and place in roasting pan
  • 2 & ½ cups Dijon Mustard
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 fresh lemons, juiced, save the rinds
  • 1 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 bundle sage
  • 1 bundle fresh thyme
  • 1 bundle fresh oregano
  • 1 bundle fresh Italian parsley
  • 8 left over lemon rinds
  • 6 to 8 cups chicken broth, homemade or organic store bought chicken broth
  • 1 to 4 tablespoon arrowroot
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • ¼ cup chives, chopped
  • 8 to 10 twists of a pepper mill with black peppercorns
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large glass bowl add the Dijon mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, soy sauce and whisk until well incorporated. Take half of the herbs from each bundle, place one half inside the cavity of the bird along with the left over lemon rinds. Pour all of the marinade all over the turkey then crack fresh pepper over the top, 8 to 10 twist of the pepper mill should do it! Scatter the remainder of the herbs on top of turkey and in roasting pan.
  3. Tie the legs together with twine and cover the tips of the legs and wings with aluminum foil (this prevents the tips from burning while roasting) Tie a string around the bird to keep the wings in place.
  4. Cut several pieces of heavy aluminum foil large enough to cover the roasting pan and turkey. Spray the insides of foil with cooking spray. Cover the turkey with the foil so steam can’t escape. (If you are using a roasting pan with a lid no need to use foil.) Roast for 1 & 1/2 hours undisturbed. Remove the foil and check the turkey, the color will be beige, add 3 cups of chicken stock and stir the bottom of the pan to loosen the bits that have formed on the bottom and sides.
  5. Baste the turkey all over using a turkey baster. Roast another 1/2 hour and add another cup of chicken stock. Scrap the bottom of the pan again, baste. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast without touching the bone. Continue roasting uncovered basting every 15 minutes for another hour. Continue to baste every 15 minutes until the thermometer registers 160 degrees. If the pan juices start to dry out add another cup of chicken stock. The whole process should take approximatley 3 & 3/4 hours depending on your oven that is why it is important to watch the thermometer and remove the turkey at 160 degrees. The turkey will continue to cook while resting. It will rise at least 5 more degrees. It is done when it reaches 165 F.
  6. Remove the turkey from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Cover loosely with foil to keep it warm. Let it rest at least for 15 to 20 minutes before you carve.
  7. Remove thermometer before you carve and after the turkey has time to sit. If you remove the thermometer immediately after taking the turkey out of the oven juices will escape.



Pour what ever chicken broth you have left into the roasting pan, scrap the sides with a wooden spoon to release any of the bits that are on the bottom or corners. Strain into a sauce pan and use a large spoon to remove oil that has risen to the top, bring it to a gentle boil.

In a small cup combine 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with one tablespoon of cold water and mix well. Pour into the sauce pan and stir to thicken. If you wish to have thicker gravy continue the same process until you get the thickeness you like. Add the sherry and simmer for one minute then add the fresh chives. Carve the turkey and arrange on a large platter dividing the white meat from the dark. Ladle some of the gravy over the top of the turkey to help keep it moist and garnish with fresh parsley and pomegranates! Give 2 to 3 turns of black pepper over the top of the turkey.



  1. Basting is extremely important if you want to have a moist golden turkey.
  2. The aluminum foil on the tips of the wings and legs will keep them from burning while baking.
  3. The instant read thermometer should not touch the bone. It will give you a false reading of the temperature.
  4. Remove thermometer before you carve and after the turkey has time to sit. If you remove the thermometer immediately, the juices will escape from the turkey. Let it settle first.

I added the the temperature charts for cooking turkey including Stuffed.

I personally DO NOT stuff my turkey. The juices are absorbed it into the stuffing drying out the turkey. It also changed the flavor of my stuffing giving it a gamey taste which I’m not to fond of.


4 to 6 lb breast…..1 1/2 to 2 1/4 hrs
6 to 8 lb breast…2 1/4 to 3 1/4 hrs
8 to 12 lbs…………….2 3/4 to 3 hrs
12 to 14 lbs…………..3 to 3 3/4 hrs
14 to 18 lbs……..3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hrs
18 to 20 lbs……..4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hrs
20 to 24 lbs…………..4 1/2 to 5 hrs


8 to 12 lbs……………3 to 3 1/2 hrs
12 to 14 lbs…………..3 1/2 to 4 hrs
14 to 18 lbs…………..4 to 4 1/4 hrs
18 to 20 lbs……..4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hrs
20 to 24 lbs……..4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hr

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  • bev

    I hate it when a recipe assumes you know what to do with all the ingredients. What do you do with the sherry and the pomegranate seeds? Since the chives are chopped do they go inside the bird or in the marinade?

    • Olivia

      It says what to do with the sherry, seeds and chives in the gravy instructions.

  • Jo Ann Griffin

    Does this bird marinate over night? Sounds like you just put it on before roasting but want to make sure.