I order a natural turkey as fresh as possible, preferably killed only a couple of days before delivery and raised naturally on a free range local farm. These turkeys cook in about ten minute a pound, instead of the 20 minutes a pound for a frozen turkey with a pop stick thermometer in it.
I bake the turkey for thirty to forty minutes at 450 degrees, then cut back too 350 for the remaining time. As soon as the skin browns nicely, I cover it loosely with a piece of alumni foil to prevent over-browning. The turkey is done at an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Check the temperature between the thigh and breast at its most interior point.
Turkey, of course, is simply a convenient vehicle for stuffing. At least for the meat eating crowd. Trust me, you never have too much stuffing. This recipe is enough to stuff a 16 pound bird with a generous pan of leftovers.
2 to 2 1/2 pounds of home style, loose sausage
1 medium sized head of celery, with thew leaves, chopped.
2 large onions diced.
1/2 pound white mushrooms, minced. They make the stuffing light.
1 loaf of multigrain, sliced bread, partially stale.
Liver if any and/or oysters (optional)
Chicken stock to moisten the stuffing
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage if you can find it. Use dried otherwise.
Salt and pepper to taste
- Saute´the sausage until all the water has been cooked out, breaking it into small pieces in the process. Then remove the sausage, leaving the fat.
- Saute´the onions and celery in the sausage fat until tender and almost translucent.
- Add the mushrooms, sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Use more seasoning than you normally would. Cook until tender. Remove from the heat.
- While the vegetables are cooking, pull the bread into small pieces, ½ to 1 inch in size.
- Add the sausage to the torn bread and mix thoroughly. Then add the vegetable mixture and stir thoroughly. Taste for seasoning.
- The key part is the moisture. Too much stock, and the stuffing is heavy and soggy. Too little stock, and the stuffing is dry and mealy. The exact amount of stock depends on the bread and how dry it is. The stuffing should be moist but not soaked.
- Stuff both the neck and body cavity and close the flaps with small skewers and bake the stuffing with the turkey. The leftover in the dish should be baked for about an hour at 350, toward the end of the turkey baking time.
I use an Italian trick for the gravy and roasted several heads of garlic in the pan with the turkey and then squeeze the pulp into the gravy. Keep a little water in the bottom of the roasting pan at all times will to avoid burning the juices.