Worth the Effort: Coffee Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy

by | Sponsored, Living Well, Seattle, Food

Tom Douglas, the guy who arguably put Seattle’s culinary scene on the map, took his place behind the stove of the demonstration kitchen at Macy’s, and started off by saying: “Today I want to talk to you about effort. If there is one thing I want you to take away today, it’s that it’s worth the effort.”

pears on kitchen counter

He was talking about cooking at home for your friends and family. He was talking about sharing not just the family recipes, but the stories that went along with them, such as the way the house smelled when his Grandma came to visit and made her famous schnecken, and the benefits of being the biggest kid in a very large family, when they all reached in to grab their favorite bits of the gooey treat.

“Create memories with your family around food, memories that involve all the senses. Those are what you will remember years from now.”

Tom Douglas

Take 3 recipes, he said, say for instance one pie, one cake, and one cookie recipe, even if you’re afraid of baking – especially if you’re afraid of baking. Make each one three times, following the directions exactly.  The trick to baking well is following the directions. By the third try, you will OWN that recipe.

Pick recipes you want to be known for, and be the person who’s known for bringing it. You don’t have to be a great cook, just well practiced at a few recipes. You can grow your repertoire later, just start with three.


Tom prepared three recipes for us: Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Broccoli Rabe and Fontina, Coffee-Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy, and Pear Tarts with Dreamy Caramel Sauce.  

Now, I don’t have room enough to share all three recipes in one post, so I’ve picked one to share today, perhaps more on another day. You’ll just have to come back and visit my blog again some day. Two of the recipes are from Tom’s new cookbook that he is promoting, The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. Of course, the recipe I chose to share has something to do with coffee, Coffee Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy. This recipe is from the Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving & Holiday Cookbook.

“Seattle is famous for its coffee. And that inspired me to stuff the turkey cavity with whole roasted coffee beans. Turns out they add a nice toasty-smoky aroma that seasons the bird from within. I leave them in even after the turkey’s done. If a few slip out at the table while I’m carving, it’s a good conversation starter.”

Tom Douglas

Get this one ready for Thanksgiving:

Coffee Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy

Yield: 12 servings

Coffee Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy


1 Fresh whole turkey, 15 pounds
6 T butter, at room temperature, plus 6 T, melted
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
12 Sage leaves
1/2 Cup Dark-roast coffee beans
1 T Rendered bacon fat, melted
1 onion, cut in half lengthwise and julienned
5 Cloves Garlic, peeled, but left whole
7 to 8 Cups chicken or turkey broth, heated
1/2 Cup Instant (quick-dissolving) flour such as Wondra


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, mash the 6 tablespoons room-temperature butter until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Using your fingers, and starting from the cavity end of the turkey, separate the skin from the breast meat, being careful not to tear the skin. Gently rub the softened butter evenly over the breast meat, then insert 6 of the sage leaves under the skin, placing 3 leaves on each breast half. Pat the skin back into place, and then brush the whole exterior of the bird with some of the melted butter. Season the turkey all over, including the cavity, with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the coffee beans inside the cavity.If the turkey has a metal clamp on its legs, remove it. Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity, if included, and reserve for another use or discard. Remove the cavity fat, then rinse the turkey well and pat dry with paper towels.

To Roast the Turkey

Brush the bottom of a roasting pan just large enough to accommodate the turkey with bacon fat, then make a bed of the onion slices in the center of the pan. Place the turkey, breast side up, on top of the onion.

Place the turkey in the oven and roast for 1 hour. Baste the turkey with some of the melted butter and add the garlic, the remaining 6 sage leaves, and 5 cups of the broth to the pan. Continue to roast the turkey, basting with butter at regular intervals a few more times, for another 1½ to 2 hours. If the turkey is browning too much, tent with aluminum foil. The turkey is done when a thigh joint is pierced and the juices run clear, or when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh, away from bone, registers 155° to 165°F.

Remove the turkey form oven, transfer to a platter, and tent with aluminum foil. Let rest for about 20 minutes.

To Make the Gravy:

Before beginning, remove any stray coffee beans that may have escaped from the turkey cavity into the roasting pan. set the roasting pan with the onion slices and juices on the stove top over medium high heat. You may need to straddle the pan over two burners. Using a wooden spoon, stir up any browned bits stuck to the pan bottom and continue stirring for a few minutes. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the onion and juices and stir until well combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the broth and any juices that have collected around the turkey on the platter, then simmer gently, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. If the gravy seems too thick, add more broth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the gravy into a warmed gravy boat and keep warm. Carve the turkey and serve immediately.


If you are stuffing your turkey, be careful not to over-stuff it. You want plenty of space for hot air to circulate inside the cavity so the meat cooks evenly.

Recipe compliments of Tom Douglas from The Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving & Holiday Cookbook (Book Kitchen, 2011).

tom douglas and judy schwartz haley
Tom Douglas and Judy Schwartz Haley

FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was paid to attend this event, but as always, my opinions remain my own.

Judy Schwartz Haley


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