I have been making turkey every year for the past fifteen years. Although we always celebrate Thanksgiving at Aunt
Over the years I have experimented with different roasting techniques and stuffings. One year I read in a magazine that
The stuffing has also evolved over the years. Chestnuts add an earthy spicy and sweet note that I adore. My husband likes the extra crunch and flavor of walnuts. We both like the giblets (though the kids never did and always went hunting through their stuffing to pick them out and fork them over to us). I prefer a somewhat dry stuffing with each component separate as opposed to a moist pasty one. Of course more liquid can be added if you prefer a moister stuffing. I also happen to prefer the texture and flavor of prepared seasoned bread cubes to making my own, though I do add extra fresh thyme and sage. My daughter, Beth, added the technique of shaping the sausage into tiny balls. This somehow adds to the flavor.
The nicest thing I can tell you about this stuffing, however, happened one year when
|goose fat or butter|
|pepper, freshly ground||several grindings||•||•|
|reserved turkey breast bones, gizzard and neck||•||•||•|
|goose fat or vegetable oil||•||•|
|seasoned bread cubes|
|OPTIONAL: reserved turkey giblets|
|sweet sage sausage, casings removed if necessary||•|
*This amount takes into account that a few will be bad and have to be discarded. Chestnuts can be spoiled without showing any indication on the shell. Look for solid, glossy chestnuts or use peeled frozen or vacuum-packed jarred ones. Fresh chestnuts in the shell will keep refrigerated for about a month.
† Packaged unsweetened cornbread for stuffing, not corn muffins.
|goose fat or butter, divided|
|fresh mushrooms, sliced|
|coarsely chopped walnuts|
|fresh sage, chopped|
|fresh thyme, leaves|
|black pepper, freshly ground||•||•|
|cayenne pepper||a pinch||•||•|
|reserved turkey stock (page 197) or chicken broth (preferably College Inn)||•||•|
|reserved turkey stock (page 197) or chicken broth||•||•|
*If baking the stuffing separately, increase the chicken broth by
If desired, prepare the turkey and some of the stuffing components the night before and refrigerate. Note that to make the Rolled Herbed Turkey Breast at the same time as the turkey, you need two ovens.
At least 15 minutes ahead of roasting, preheat the oven to 325°F.
Rinse the turkey with cold running water and drain well.
Using sharp scissors, make a longitudinal cut through the breast skin, from the point of the breast all the way to the neck opening. Pull back the skin so that the entire breast section is exposed, being careful not to tear the skin. Use sharp shears to cut off each section of breast meat, including the bone. Use a sharp knife to slice the breast meat from the bone, keeping each breast whole, and reserve the bones for the stock. Wrap and refrigerate the breasts for later use.
Using a trussing needle or a large needle and heavy brown thread, stitch together the breast skin, using an overhand stitch. Sew the neck skin flap to the back of the turkey: This will become what is usually the neck cavity.
Using a heavy cleaver or knife, chop the breast bones into
In a large saucepan, heat the goose fat over medium-high heat. Add the giblets (not the liver), breast bones and neck and cook, stirring often, until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook until the onions are softened. Pour in the water and bring to a simmer. Skim off any foam on the surface.
Add the parsley, thyme, peppercorns and bay leaf and simmer, uncovered, for at least 4, preferably 6, hours. If you plan to use the gizzard and neck in your stuffing or gravy, remove them when they are tender. The neck takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, the gizzard about 1½ hours. Remove the meat from the neck and return the bones to the stock. Finely chop the meat and refrigerate. If you like turkey liver in your stuffing or gravy, add it during the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking.
Strain the stock, discarding the bones and vegetables but reserving the liver if desired. Cut the gizzard and liver into small cubes. Cover and refrigerate.
Measure the stock. You should have
When the fat has solidified on the surface of the stock, scrape it off. You will need
Peel and cook the chestnuts (this can be done up to 3 days ahead).
Using a chestnut cutter or a sharp paring knife, cut an X through the skin on the flat side of each chestnut. In a large saucepan, place the chestnuts and cold water to cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes, then turn off the heat. Remove the chestnuts a few at time, for peeling. Remove both the outer shell and as much of the inner skin as possible. I like to use scissors to cut through the shell, especially the hard top part.
Rinse out the saucepan, and add the peeled chestnuts and milk. Simmer, covered, until the chestnuts are easily pierced with a cake tester, 20 to 40 minutes, depending on how dry the chestnuts are. Add more milk if necessary to keep them barely covered. Cool and then drain the chestnuts, discarding the milk.
Into a gallon-size bowl, crumble the cooked chestnuts. Add the bread cubes and optional cooked giblets (liver, neck and gizzard) and set aside.
Into a large frying pan, over medium heat, pinch off small pieces of the sausage, about
Heat the reserved
Spoon the stuffing into the turkey. Do not pack in the stuffing as it will expand during baking. (Any leftover can be sprinkled with a little extra broth or water and baked in a separate pan, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes. Removing the cover for the last 15 minutes gives a crunchy top.) Tuck the turkey legs into the band of skin (the “hock lock” usually provided) and tie the wings to the sides of the bird, or truss in the following manner: Place a long piece of twine under the turkey, near the tail. Bring it up over the ends of the legs, cross it over and bring each piece down under the leg ends, bringing the legs together. Pull each end of the twine toward the back of the bird so that the twine runs along the sides of the bird, under each leg and across the wings, holding them in place. Knot the twine securely at the back of the bird. If you like crisp back skin, place a strong rack in the roasting pan to support the turkey. Place the turkey on the rack or directly in the pan. Rub the cut sides of the garlic cloves all over the turkey and then rub it with the
Roast the turkey for 3 hours or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh (not touching the bone) reads 175°F. If the turkey starts getting too brown, tent it with a piece of aluminum foil, preferably heavy duty. Allow the turkey to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.
Pour off the pan drippings into a glass measuring cup or bowl and let them stand for 5 minutes. Skim off the fat that rises to the surface. Return the juices to the roasting pan and pour in the
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the
Whisk in the reduced stock and bring it to a boil. Cook, whisking often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Pour the gravy into a sauceboat.
NOTE: I do not include salt in the list of stuffing ingredients because commercial bread crumbs contain salt and the stock may also be salty. Season to taste.
If you are not making gravy, reduce the stock to
© 1992 Rose Levy Beranbaum. All rights reserved.