Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkey and Stuffing Recipes

We really love turkey so we really like cooking for Thanksgiving so that we can get our turkey fix for basically that day and the week after! I've been making turkey's for years (my mom taught me when I was little) and I had a hard time with the gizzard part for the first few that I made. Then I went abroad where my friend and I made 4 turkeys for about 80 people in our program. We had to get the turkey's from the market, carry them home (Trust me it takes an army to carry 4 turkey's home because it KILLS your back walking while holding a turkey) and then pull out the left over feathers. Also, the gizzard did not come out in a little bag like they do in the US. We had to physically remove the gizzards (There was a lot of ewwing going on). It was at this point that I got over the whole gizzard thing and since then making a turkey has been no big deal. (I should also mention that we had to cook 2 of the turkey's at my place and then carry the hot turkey's a mile to where we were having the party)

Now for our Pre-Thanksgiving I make a bird that is usually between 22 and 25 lbs. I get it usually a week a head of time and let it defrost in the fridge.The hardest thing I find when making a turkey this large is cleaning it. I used to throw in college so it makes me a little sad that holding a turkey over the sink is difficult for me, but I'm going to blame it on the awkwardness/slipperiness of the turkey. Because of this I usually have Nate help me do a thorough rinse off of the turkey. I also remove the baggy of gizzards and for the turkey this year, removed the bag of gravy that was stuffed in the cavity (I had never seen this before and I thought it was a little weird). We then placed it in the pan to get prepped.

I have prepped turkey's in a lot of different ways but this year I decided to go with garlic and sage. I minced 1 clove of garlic with 2 teaspoons of dried sage with 2 tablespoons of country crock spread. 

I then cut finger size holes into each section of the turkey (over each breast and leg), I then use my finger to separate the skin from the meat. 

Once again using my fingers, I put the butter mixture into the holes and then spread it around under the skin. This allows the flavor to get in the meat (we don't eat the skin and I hate when all of the flavor is just in the skin). It also makes the meat really moist. 

At this point I tent the turkey using aluminum foil. I take two pieces, fold them over the edges, and connect the pieces at a peak.

I then cooked the turkey at 350 degrees. I cooked it planning on 20 minutes per lb. I checked it with about hour and a half left and took off the aluminum foil and basted it to let it brown. The popper popped about an hour early (The tenting cuts off some time) which was perfect so it had time to set. Here is what it looked like.

I should mention that I did not stuff the turkey. I sometimes stuff it with half an orange or an onion, but this year I left it alone. 

I did make stuffing, I just made it separately so that I could make a regular version and a gluten free version. (I was running around like crazy so I don't have pics of the stuffing). I modified a recipe from Real Simple. 

  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage (without casings)
  • 4 medium-size tart apples, unpeeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 7-ounce bag diced mixed dried fruit (I used 1/2 cranberries and 1/2 raisins)
  •  2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 loaf Italian bread (allowed to dry out a bit) and 1 loaf Gluten Free Rosemary Thyme Focaccia bread from Canyon Bakehouse
  • 2 cups chicken broth

Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking up the meat as it cooks. When it's brown, add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the dried fruit, sage, and nutmeg. Put about 1/4 of the mixture to the side and fold in the bread and add 1 1/2 cups of the broth. Fold the gluten free bread into the separated mixture and add the remaining broth.
 Lightly butter a 3-quart baking dish or casserole. Spoon in the stuffing. (The stuffing can be made to this point up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Repeat for a smaller dish and the gluten free stuffing.
Place the stuffing in the oven while the turkey is cooking (or in a preheated 350º F oven) and bake 40 to 45 minutes or until the top is golden and toasted.

Weekend Bloggy Reading

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