Turkey and Stuffing to Die For

The amount of butter used for both is why I say to “die” for. Two words. Worth. It. Last year I was tasked by my Italian in-laws to make the Thanksgiving turkey. I had mentioned that making a turkey was on my life bucket list (weird I know) – so they put me up to the task. Boy was a I nervous. My in-laws are tremendous cooks. I recruited my sister to help. We googled and you tubed how to make a turkey for hours the night before. Well, we nailed it. I do not want to toot my own horn (ok, I do) but it was probably the best turkey I have ever had. Our hours of research had paid off. Here is our recipe.


The Turkey

  • The night before, brine the thawed turkey (it is ok if the turkey is partially thawed).
    • Earn lots of wows for just a little work. Brining — soaking the turkey in a saltwater solution for 4 to 24 hours before roasting — results in a tender juicy bird.
      • 1 cub kosher salt
      • Small handful of aromatics (garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, whole peppercorns, bay leaves, lemon zest)
      • Combine salt, aromatics, and 1/2 gallon (8 cups) of water in a large pot and place over medium-high heat. Stir until salt is dissolved. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Stir in remaining 1/2 gallon water (or water and ice) and cool completely.
      • Pour brine into a container just large enough to hold turkey comfortably. (A 4- or 5-gallon vessel should be good for a 10- to 12-pound turkey.) Add turkey; add a little more water or ice to submerge it if necessary. Turn bird a few times and then leave breast-side down in the water; place a heavy plate over the poultry if it floats. Chill 5 to 6 hours. Remove bird from brine, discard brine and roast as directed.
    • The next day, figure out what time you want to eat and start cooking the bird accordingly. For an unstuffed bird, it takes roughly 15 minutes per pound to cook. It is also good to let the bird sit for at least 20 minutes prior to serving
      • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
      • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme plus 15 fresh thyme sprigs
      • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary plus 5 fresh rosemary sprigs
      • 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage plus 5 fresh sage sprigs
      • 1 14- to 16-pound turkey
      • 4 cups low-salt chicken broth
      • Mix butter and all minced herbs in small bowl; season herb butter with salt and pepper.
      • Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 425°F.
      • Rinse turkey inside and out; pat dry.
      • Starting at neck end, slide hand between skin and breast meat to loosen skin. Rub herb butter over breast meat under skin. Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan.
      • Place 4 tablespoons plain butter and all fresh herb sprigs in main cavity. Tuck wing tips under. Tie legs together loosely. Rub remaining herb butter over outside of turkey. Sprinkle turkey generously with salt and pepper.
      • Place turkey in oven and roast 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Roast turkey 30 minutes; pour 1 cup broth over and add 1 tablespoon plain butter to roasting pan.
      • Roast turkey 30 minutes; baste with pan juices, then pour 1 cup broth over and add 1 tablespoon butter to pan. Cover turkey with cheese cloth. Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, basting with pan juices and adding 1 cup broth and 1 tablespoon butter to pan every 30 minutes (so important!), about 1 hour 45 minutes longer. Transfer turkey to platter; let stand 30 minutes (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees).
      • Carve and enjoy!

The Stuffing

  • 8 cups (14 oz) store bought unseasoned stuffing cubes
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 cups diced yellow onion (from 1 large or 2 small onions)
  • 1 cup diced celery (from 3 large celery stalks)
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage (i.e., sausage with the casings removed) — see note below
  • 2-3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with butter.
    • Place the stuffing cubes in a large mixing bowl.
    • In a large sauté pan, melt the butter. Add the onions and celery and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
    • Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Add the vegetables to the stuffing cubes.
    • In the same pan, cook the sausage over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, until browned and cooked through, breaking up the sausage with a metal spatula while cooking. Add the browned sausage to the bread cubes and vegetables.
    • Add the chicken broth, egg, rosemary, sage, salt and pepper to the bread cube mixture and mix until the bread is soft and moistened. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared baking dish and bake for 65-75 minutes, uncovered, until deeply golden and crisp on top.
    • **Make Ahead: If you’d like to prepare this ahead of time, you can either assemble and refrigerate it until you’re ready to bake it — or fully prepare and refrigerate it. To reheat, cover with foil and place in a 325°F oven for about 20 minutes, or until hot.


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