Apple-Bourbon Turkey and Gravy

4 cups Belue Farms apple cider
1 cup bourbon or sherry
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 (12- to 15-lb.) whole fresh (or frozen, thawed) turkey
½ tsp dry sage
4 celery ribs
4 large carrots
3 small apples, quartered or halved
1 large sweet onion, sliced
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup chicken broth (optional)
Salt and pepper
Kitchen string
  1. Stir together apple cider and next 2 ingredients until sugar dissolves.
  2. Remove giblets and neck from turkey, and rinse turkey with cold water. Drain cavity well; pat dry. Place turkey in a large roasting pan. Dip cheesecloth in apple cider mixture. Wring dry. Cover turkey with cheesecloth; pour apple cider mixture over cheesecloth, coating completely. Cover and chill 12 to 24 hours, basting occasionally with apple marinade.
  3. Preheat oven to 325°. Remove turkey from pan, discarding cheesecloth and reserving 3 cups marinade. Sprinkle cavity with desired amount of salt; rub into cavity. Sprinkle salt, freshly ground pepper and sage on skin; rub into skin. Tie ends of legs together with string; tuck wingtips under.
  4. Arrange celery and next 3 ingredients in a single layer in bottom of roasting pan. Place turkey, breast side up, on celery mixture. Pour reserved marinade over turkey in pan.
  5. Bake at 325° for 3 hours and 15 minutes to 4 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of thigh registers 165°, basting every 30 minutes with pan juices. Shield with aluminum foil after 2 hours and 30 minutes to prevent excessive browning, if necessary. Remove from oven, and let stand 30 minutes.
  6. Transfer turkey to a serving platter, reserving 2 1/2 cups pan drippings. Pour reserved drippings through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large measuring cup, discarding solids.
  7. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat; whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly (1 to 2 minutes or until smooth). Gradually add drippings, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring mixture occasionally (5 minutes or until gravy thickens). Add up to ½ cup chicken broth for desired consistency. Stir in salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve turkey with warm gravy.
(with thanks to Southern Living)