Perfect roast turkey with best-ever gravy
“After trying every turkey roasting method under the sun, this is the one I come back to, and the one I always teach at my cooking classes and use in my magazine articles,” says cooking teacher and food writer Rick Rodgers in the new edition of his classic cookbook, “Thanksgiving 101.”
Rodgers says his method is especially useful with organic or heritage turkeys, which can be leaner than mass-produced birds. Instructions are for an average-sized 18-pound turkey, but they can expand or reduce depending on the size of your bird. Figure 1 pound of turkey per person.
Roast Turkey and Gravy
1 (18-pound) fresh turkey
about 12 cups of your favorite stuffing (you can opt not to stuff the turkey and cook the stuffing separately)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock, or use part turkey stock made by simmering turkey giblets, neck and heart with onion, carrots and celery and water to cover for one hour, plus more stock for gravy
melted unsalted butter, as needed
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup bourbon, port or dry sherry (optional)
Position a rack in the lowest part of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Reserve the turkey neck and giblets to use in gravy or stock. (These are sometimes removed by the processor, so don’t worry if they aren’t present.) Pull out the pad of yellow fat (if present) on both sides of the tail and reserve. If you wish, rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water. Pat the skin dry. Turn the turkey on its breast. Loosely fill the neck cavity with stuffing. Using a thin wooden or metal skewer, pin the turkey’s neck skin to the back.
Fold the turkey’s wings akimbo behind the back (the tips will rest behind the turkey’s “shoulders”) or tie them to the body with kitchen string. Loosely fill the large body cavity with stuffing. Loosely cover the exposed stuffing with a piece of aluminum foil. Place any remaining stuffing in a lightly buttered casserole, cover and refrigerate to bake as a side dish. Place the drumsticks in the “hock lock” (some turkeys have a plastic piece inserted for this purpose) or tie together with string.
Rub the turkey all over with the softened butter. Season with the salt and pepper. Tightly cover the breast area with aluminum foil. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Place the reserved fat in the pan – it will melt during roasting and add to the drippings. Pour 2 cups of the stock into the bottom of the pan.
Roast the turkey, basting all over every 45 minutes with the juices from the bottom of the pan (lift up the foil to reach the breast area), until a meat thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh (but not touching a bone) reads 180 degrees and the stuffing is at least 160 degrees – about 4 1/2 hours. Whenever the drippings evaporate, add broth to moisten them, about 1 1/2 cups at a time. Remove the foil during the last hour to allow the skin to brown.
Transfer the turkey to a large serving platter and let it stand for at least 20 minutes before carving. Increase the oven temperature to 350. Drizzle 1/2 cup stock over the stuffing in the casserole, cover and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a heatproof glass bowl, measuring cup, or fat separator. Let stand for 5 minutes; then skim off and reserve the clear yellow fat that rises to the top. Measure 3/4 cup fat, adding melted butter, if needed. Add enough turkey stock or chicken broth to the skimmed drippings to make 8 cups total.
Place the roasting pan over 2 stove burners on low heat and add the turkey fat. Whisk in the flour, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the stock and the optional alcohol. Cook, whisking often, until the gravy has thickened and no trace or raw flour flavor remains, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the gravy to a warmed gravy boat, straining the gravy, if desired, through a wire sieve.
Makes 18 servings.
Source: “Thanksgiving 101″ by Rick Rodgers (William Morrow, 2007, $15.95)
Simple stuffings often best
The Honolulu Advertiser
There are as many ways to make stuffing (aka dressing) as there are ingredients. I say this because in scanning the Internet for recipes to use at Thanksgiving, I came across dishes so diverse as to bear almost no relationship to each other, though all shared the name “stuffing.”
There were stuffings made with oysters, with chestnuts, with challah, with Portuguese pickled pork, with wild rice, even with mashed potatoes. There were crockpot stuffings and stove-top stuffings and oven versions. And the flavors: from Southwest-spicy to fruit-sweet.
But after I’d analyzed things a bit, I did find some commonalities that serve as a kind of formula to use in creating your own recipes. And I also learned that stuffing is one of the oldest dishes we know of; there are recipes in the earliest written cookbook, by the Roman epicure Apicius, using grain, herbs and organ meats to stuff fowl, rabbits and even mice!
All stuffing recipes draw from four classes of ingredients:
Starches: usually plain white bread crumbs or chunks, but also cornbread, rich egg breads such as challah and brioche, rice or wild rice, wheat berries or other whole grains and even potatoes.
Vegetables: Onions and celery are most common, but ingredients from mushrooms to fennel make an appearance.
Liquids: Chicken stock and melted butter are usual, but wine, fruit juices, vegetable or mushroom broth, water and even splashes of vinegar or lemon juice also are used.
Flavorings: meats (sausage, ham, pickled beef or pork), fruits (raisins, cranberries, apples), nuts (chestnuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts), oysters, hard-boiled eggs, spices (often warm and sweet spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon, but also chiles), herbs (parsley, sage and thyme, the famed Bell’s Seasoning used by Martha Stewart and others in Eastern states).
Stuffing is one of the easiest things in the world to make; it’s just the shopping and chopping that take time. After that, it’s generally a matter of briefly sautéing the vegetables, combining the ingredients, drizzling the liquid (and sometimes fats) over. Then it’s oven time.
But easy to make doesn’t mean easy to make well: Too many stuffings arrive on the table a heavy, soggy, indigestible mess.
The key here is to employ a light hand, both with the fats and the liquids. A lot of recipes call for whole sticks of butter, but you can generally cut the fat by half without ill effect. Keep the sauté temperature at medium and use a little low-fat broth if the vegetables start to stick. If you’re going to drizzle turkey drippings over the stuffing, first remove the fat from the drippings. And when you add liquids, go slowly – add no more than half a cup at a time, then toss the ingredients. The bread should be slightly moist, not soggy. You can always add more liquid.
Sometimes the flavor of stuffings isn’t wonderful because the cook neglected to taste it. And use the best ingredients you can, especially if it’s a quite plain recipe – real butter, a rich broth, fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts, high-quality bread. As many stuffings contain raw ingredients, heat a tablespoon or so with a little butter or broth until it’s cooked through, then taste to see what it needs before you serve up an oversalted or under-herbed dish.
My strong preference is for stuffing recipes that exercise restraint, relying on just a few flavor and texture notes in the right balance with each other (rather than fighting or overpowering each other). I think there should be no more than two or three things going on: For example, the crunch of nuts, the warm sweetness of fruit and spices, the richness of butter-bread-broth. That’s plenty. Don’t throw stuff in just because you can.
And a word on safety: As with the turkey, the internal temperature of stuffings that contain raw meats, seafood, eggs or meat juices should reach at least 165 degrees. The safest way to assure this is to cook the stuffing separately rather than in the body cavity of the turkey.
People seem to like this apple-onion recipe, and when I tested it, I could see why: It’s a tart, tangy, crunchy stuffing that is a good foil to the richness and silkiness of the other Thanksgiving foods – turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes dripping with gravy.
The apples should be the tart, baking kind; I used Granny Smiths in testing this. If you don’t like to use wine in cooking, substitute broth or a blend of water and white grape juice or water and apple juice.
The bread crumbs should be fresh; choose a good quality French- or Italian-style loaf and cut away the crust, using the soft middle. You have a texture choice here: If you like a loose, chunkier dressing, cut the bread into small cubes. For a finer, more dense texture, put the bread through a food processor.
Apple-onion Turkey Stuffing
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup onion, roughly chopped
2 cups soft bread crumbs
2 baking apples, peeled, cored, chopped
1 cup white wine
1 cup chopped almonds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
In a large sauté pan, Dutch oven or wok, melt butter and sauté onion over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add bread crumbs, using a spatula or large spoon to lift from the bottom to combine (avoid packing or mashing the ingredients). Gently add apples, white wine and nuts and cook for 5 minutes longer; the wine will cook off, leaving very little liquid in the bottom of the pan. Add lemon juice, nutmeg and allspice.
Stuff inside the turkey or bake alongside it (at 325 to 350 degrees) in a buttered baking dish, about 30 minutes; until lightly browned and crispy on top and heated through.
Makes 8 smaller servings; 6 larger.
ON THE WEB
MORE FOR THANKSGIVING
For more tips and recipes for Thanksgiving, go to our online Thanksgiving Guide.
• Multimedia: How to cook a turkey; how to carve a turkey: go to www.azcentral.com, click on Food and Home, then Cooking Videos.
• http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/ 2006/Nov/22/il/stuffingvideo.html, watch Wanda Adams demonstrate how to prepare your own apple onion turkey stuffing
Something for every Thanksgiving palate
Gannett News Service
Thanksgiving dinner is the time to please everyone: the starch lover, the sweet tooth, even the independent who loves brussels sprouts. These side dishes offer seasonal color and a range of textures for the table.
Brussels Sprouts with Mustard-Lemon-Caper Sauce
2 pounds brussels sprouts, about 4 dozen
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and ground black pepper
Rinse and trim brussels sprouts. Layer the sprouts on the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet. Dot with the butter, sprinkle the olive oil atop the sprouts, then season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender and able to be pierced easily with a knife. Make the sauce (recipe follows).
Toss the sprouts with the mustard-lemon-caper sauce and, when they’re well-coated, transfer them to a serving dish and serve.
Makes 8 servings.
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed through a press
3 large shallots, very finely minced
juice and zest of 2 large lemons
1/2 cup tiny green capers
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a very large skillet set over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the garlic and shallots and cook for 5 minutes, stirring. Stir in the lemon zest, cook 1 minute more, then stir in the lemon juice and the capers and cook 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the mustard. Stir briskly to fully incorporate the mustard into the liquids. Add the parsley, then spoon the roasted brussels sprouts into the skillet.
Source: Andrea Clurfeld, Asbury Park (N.J.) Press
Maple-glazed Baby Carrots with Pecans
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds “baby-cut” carrots
1 3/4 cup beef broth, preferably homemade or reduced-sodium canned
1/2 cup maple syrup, preferably Grade B
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup toasted, coarsely chopped pecans
In a 12-inch skillet, preferably nonstick, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the carrots and stir to coat with the butter. Add the broth, maple syrup, salt and pepper; increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover tightly and cook for 6 minutes.
Uncover and cook, stirring often, until the carrots are tender and the liquid reduces to a glaze, 12 to 15 minutes. (The carrots can be prepared up to 2 hours ahead, then kept at room temperature. To reheat, add 1/4 cup water and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are hot and the water evaporates, about 5 minutes.) Stir in the pecans. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and serve immediately.
Makes 8 to 12 servings.
Source: “Thanksgiving 101,” by Rick Rodgers (William Morrow, 2007, $15.95)
Make-Ahead Mashed Potato Casserole
The casserole can be prepared up to one day ahead.
5 pounds baking potatoes
salt, as needed
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk, heated
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
chopped chives or parsley, for garnish (optional)
Fill a large (at least 5 quarts) pot halfway with cold water. Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks about 1 1/2-inch square, and drop them into the pot. Add more cold water to cover the potatoes by 1 to 2 inches.
Stir in enough salt so that the water tastes mildly salted. Cover tightly and bring to a full boil over high heat, allowing at least 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and set the lid askew. Cook at a moderate boil until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 20 minutes. Do not overcook the potatoes.
Drain the potatoes well and return them to the warm pot. Add the cream cheese and butter. Using a handheld electric mixer, mix the potatoes until the cream cheese and butter melt. Beat in the sour cream and milk. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Transfer to a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake until the potatoes are heated through, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot, sprinkled with the chives or parsley, if using.
Makes 8 to 12 servings.
Source: “Thanksgiving 101,” by Rick Rodgers (William Morrow, 2007, $15.95)
The end to a perfect meal
Slivers of creamy chocolate cheesecake provide the last bite of decadence to Thanksgiving dinner, or try the crunchy, maple-infused take on traditional pumpkin pie.
Detroit Free Press
Chocolate Delight Cheesecake
This cheesecake should be chilled overnight before serving.
1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
3 tablespoons plus 1 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Butter the bottom of an 8-inch or 9-inch springform pan or line it with a parchment paper circle.
In a small bowl, mix together the chocolate wafer crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar and the melted butter. Press the mixture onto the bottom and 1 1/2 inches up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the crust from the oven and let it cool.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a small saucepan, heat the whipping cream with the chocolate chips over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the chips are melted. Remove from the heat.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and the remaining 1 cup of sugar until the mixture is smooth.
Add the cocoa powder and beat well.
Add the eggs and beat on low until the mixture is just blended.
Stir in the vanilla and the reserved chocolate mixture until they are blended in.
Pour the filling over the cooled crust. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the center is almost set (it should still jiggle somewhat).
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it cool completely. Refrigerate overnight before serving.
Makes 12 servings.
Source: Detroit Free Press
Eugene’s Maple Pumpkin Pie
4 (2-inch) gingersnap cookies
1/4 cup pecan halves
1 prepared 9-inch pie crust
1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar, preferably raw
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup 2 percent milk
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a food processor, process the gingersnaps and pecans until finely ground. Sprinkle them over the bottom of the pie crust, pressing them into the dough to coat the entire bottom and going about 1/2 inch up the sides.
Bake the pie crust 6 to 8 minutes; remove from the oven and cool.
Meanwhile, in a small, heavy saucepan, stir together the pumpkin, brown sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon and salt. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a sputtering simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes or until thick and shiny.
Transfer the mixture to a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process for 1 minute. With the motor on, add the milk and whipping cream, processing until incorporated.
Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, processing just to incorporate, about 5 seconds after each addition; add vanilla along with the last egg.
Pour the mixture into the pie shell; set it directly on the lowest shelf of the oven.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. If crust appears to be darkening too much on the bottom, raise the pie to the next rack. After 30 minutes, protect the edges with a foil ring if needed.
Remove from the oven and place the pie on a rack to cool.
Source: Adapted from “The Pie and Pastry Bible” by Rose Levy Beranbaum (Scribner, 1998, $45)