Thursday, October 6, 2011

Best Ever Stuffing Recipe and Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey and Stuffing
photo by Christian Lemus

Turkey dressing stuffed inside a Thanksgiving bird will lengthen the roasting time, but it will absorb the succulent flavor of the turkey. The stuffing recipe cannot be written without including the instructions to roast the turkey as the two go hand in hand. Here's how to make this most traditional of holiday entrees.

First of all, when buying the turkey, allow one pound (453.6 grams) for every two people invited to the feast, or more if leftovers are desired. Then when ready to cook, make sure the giblets are removed from the body cavity and the neck area, or the wishbone cavity. Many chefs cooking their first Thanksgiving dinners are unaware there is a bag of organ meat inside their turkey and inadvertently roast it with the bird. This isn't always a fiasco but highly undesirable, and will most assuredly make the cook the butt of family jokes every Thanksgiving thereafter.

Prepare the turkey for roasting by rinsing it with cold water and patting it dry. Then rub the insides with a little salt. In a small cup, mix some olive oil, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, ground pepper and a dash of oregano, and then brush it all over the poultry. Put 2 bay leaves under the skin at each breast.

Bread Stuffing Recipe for a Holiday Turkey

There should be 3/4 cup (170 grams) of stuffing to each pound of turkey. For this stuffing recipe, large turkeys are best, but if the turkey is ten pounds or less, the stuffing can simply be placed in a crock pot and set on low heat while the turkey is roasting.

  • 6 tablespoons of chopped onion (85 grams)
  • 3 cups finely chopped celery (380.4 grams)
  • 2 cups of fresh mushrooms, chopped (453.6 grams)
  • 1 stick of butter (not margarine)
  • 14 slices of day old bread, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (2.4 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (2.4 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (4.76 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage (4.76 grams)
  • 8 tablespoons of water or chicken broth, or a little more (113.4 grams)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional but delicious if they are included (113.4 grams)
Balsam Hill LLC
  1. In a large pot, cook the onion, celery and mushrooms in the butter until tender.
  2. Add the bread cubes and the seasonings, and then gently toss.
  3. Toss with enough of the water or broth to moisten.
  4. Add the walnuts or pecans and gently stir.
  5. With a large spoon, ladle the stuffing into two areas of the turkey, the body and the neck cavities.
  6. To keep the stuffing from leaking out, secure the wishbone cavity with a metal skewer. For the main body cavity, generally the two legs can be tucked under a flap of skin, but skewers may still be needed to close it. Insert a meat thermometer in the center of the inside thigh muscle, away from the bone.
  7. Roast the turkey, breast side up and the wing tips twisted under the back, at 325* (162.8°C) until the meat thermometer reads 180* (82.2°C). If not using an oven bag, loosely cover the top of the bird with foil. During the last 45 minutes, cut the band of skin between the legs and the tail. Remove the foil and baste the bird with the juice in the bottom of the pan every so often to keep it moist. The cooking time is as follows:
  • 6-8 pounds 3.5 - 4 hours
  • 8-12 pounds 4 - 4.5 hours
  • 12-16 pounds 4.5 - 5.5 hours
  • 16-20 pounds 5.5 - 6.5 hours
  • 20-24 pounds 6.5 - 7.5 hours
Reynolds oven bags are great for roasting turkeys as they reduce the time and make the meat very tender and juicy without having to baste it. Simply toss a spoonful of flour into the bag and shake it so that it is well coated, then add 4 celery stalks and a quartered onion. Carefully put the stuffed bird inside the bag, with the breast side up and the wing tips twisted under the back, close with the nylon tie, and then place it in a roasting pan. 6 slits should be cut in the top of the oven bag to allow steam to escape. With an oven bag, the cooking time for a stuffed turkey is as follows:
  • 12-16 pounds 2.5 - 3 hours
  • 16-20 pounds 3 - 3.5 hours
  • 20-24 pounds 3.5 - 4 hours
When the meat thermometer indicates the turkey is done, the bird should be removed from the oven and set aside for 15 minutes or even longer, still in the oven bag. Meanwhile, slit a corner of the bag and let the meat juice drain into a container, which can be used for homemade gravy. Then remove the stuffing and carve the turkey for a fabulous feast!

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