Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey, Stuffing and Gravy
14# fresh natural turkey
16 oz. Golden Fig brining spices
2T stick softened butter
1T dry thyme
1 large onion, sliced
3 cups rich chicken stock
2 and 1/4 T flour
2 and1/2 T butter
10 cups cubed, dry, seasoned bread cubes (bagged stuffing cubes)
2T fresh minced sage
2#'s fresh chestnuts in the shell
4 ounces fresh chicken livers, minced
2 cups minced celery
2 cups minced onion
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup melted butter
1/3 cup minced parsley
2T fresh thyme leaves
2 days before....
Place your turkey in a large pot filled with enough water to just cover.
Dissolve the brining spices into the water by gently stirring.
Let sit refrigerated for 16 hours.
This will keep your bird moist and flavorful during and after cooking.
Remove bird and place on a roasting rack fitted into a roasting pan and let dry overnight in your refrigerator uncovered.
This will tighten the skin and dry out the outer layers for extra crispy-ness and color.
Remove bird from refrigerator and let come to room temperature.
While that is going on, place an X mark with a paring knife across the tops of the chestnuts and roast at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until cooked through.
Peel and reserve meats, slicing them into quarters as best you can.
Discard the rotten ones, reserving the balance
Place the turkey in a rack fitted into a roasting pan.
Place the sliced onion into the bottom of the roasting pan, along with the turkey neck and giblets, under the turkey so that the drippings will land on the onions.... and set aside.
To stuff or not to stuff
We all believe the best option is to cook the stuffing outside of the bird. In terms of an easy cooking experience, a stuffed bird creates all sorts of challenges. It's best to cook the bird open with a lot of air circulation. Filling the cavity of a raw bird adds to cooking time and it turns the bird into a large solid mass. It's likely to result in undercooked stuffing and over cooked bird.
If must have the perfect Rockwellian experience, we suggest you bake the stuffing in a medium and a small bowl. Before serving, stuff the contents of the small bowl into the finished bird. Perfect bird. Perfect stuffing. Viola, Norman Rockwell.
If you really must stuff, a few pointers
Combine the bread cubes, chestnuts and all the other stuffing ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Season with salt and pepper.
Stuff turkey front and back.
Place balance of stuffing in a suitable oven-to-table casserole dish and reserve.
Rub turkey with the soft butter and sprinkle lightly with the dry herbs and paprika.
Place the racked turkey in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, turn down to 325 and roast for @ 16 minutes per pound, basting from time to time until bird is cooked to your liking
. If you like check that the internal temperature of the bird has reached 155 degrees.
To do this, insert a food thermometer into the meatiest part of the thigh and take the temperature. DO NOT TOUCH THE BONE WHEN DOING THIS.
When turkey is done, place the baking dish with the spare stuffing into the oven and turn the temperature up to 375. Cover the stuffing loosely with aluminum foil.
Bake for 1 hour while your turkey rests, and you make the gravy and carve your bird.
Place the turkey onto a carving board and tent with aluminum foil. Place board in a warm spot and let the turkey rest.
Spill out the contents of the roasting pan through a strainer, pressing down to extract the best juices, into a 2 quart suacepan. Reserve.
Discard the contents of the strainer.
Skim off all the fat from the roasting pan, leaving behind the turkey juices and drippings etc.
Place the roasting pan back on the stove, place over medium heat and add the three cups of your stock.
Scraping back and forth, remove the roasty-toasty bits that stuck to the pan.
Add this to the 2 quart saucepan with the cleaned drippings.
Simmer until contents are reduced down to 2 and ½ cups. Reserve.
Now place the flour and butter in a 2qt sauce pan and stir, cooking for several minutes over medium heat.
Whisking, slowly pour in the 2 and ½ cups of reduced gravy liquids.
Continue simmering until gravy consistency is reached and season with salt and pepper.
Hold for service.
Carve your bird and place on a platter.
Pour any juices you accumulate during carving into the gravy pan.
Serve both of the stuffings at the table, passing gravy to those that want some.