Fool Proof Turkey and Dressing

My first year of marriage, I cooked my first Thanksgiving Feast!  My husband and my brother-in-law Brett were my culinary advisers as I set out to single-handedly cook the entire Thanksgiving meal.

On a whim, I discovered the secret to Thanksgiving Turkey success.  I was google searching turkey tricks and techniques when I came across a turkey recipe from none other than… LEGAL SEAFOODS.  Thats right.  A Seafood Restaurant, which happened to be my husband’s employer all through college, has a turkey recipe.  This I had to try.  And boy am I glad that I did.

I had never heard of brining a turkey until I found this recipe.  Basically you soak the bird in a bucket of apple cider and spicy goodness for 24-48 hours, then you cook it upside down until the very end to ensure all the good fat drips through the breast.  Ive never made this recipe with the sausage stuffing that goes with it but this year I will!

If you are looking for a fool-proof way to cook a turkey, try this brine.  I promise you will love it.  The hardest part is making room for the bucket of turkey in the fridge!

Brined Turkey and Sausage Stuffing

Recipe by Rich Vellante, Executive Chef

Many people have similar comments and complaints about the Thanksgiving turkey…”Its really dry!” they lament.  To alleviate that problem, we suggest three techniques:

1. Don’t stuff the turkey.  Stuffing draws out moisture from the bird, making the meat dry. Try cooking your stuffing separately in a casserole dish.
2. Baste constantly with pan juices.
3. Brine the turkey before cooking.  This step, similar to marinating,  will add great flavor and tenderness while helping the bird to retain moisture.

Remember, a turkey will cook faster when not stuffed. And, when checking the temperature of the turkey, place an instant-read thermometer in the leg meat.

Follow these instructions for a delicious  Brined Turkey with Sausage Stuffing.  Take your time with each step, and read through the entire procedure before you begin.  Relax —  it’s simpler than it looks!

*You will need two 13-gallon plastic bags and one very large (16-quart) bowl that will fit in the fridge.

*Plan to get started a day ahead, because the turkey should be brined for 18 to 20 hours

Turkey Brine Ingredients:
1 gallon apple cider
3 quarts water
1 cup salt
¾ cup sugar
2  whole cloves
1 tbsp peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 small dried chili peppers
2 tablespoons dried thyme
5 allspice berries
4 cloves garlic

Combine all ingredients in a large pot or bowl and stir well till sugar and salt are dissolved.  Set aside.

1. Double-line a very large (about 16-quart) bowl with two 13-gallon plastic bags, opening one inside the other and draping excess plastic down around the sides of the bowl.
2. Rinse your turkey (8 – 10 pounds) inside and out, then place turkey in the prepared plastic-lined bowl.
3. Pour brine mixture over and around turkey.
4. Carefully draw up and gather tops of bags together, eliminating air spaces above brining liquid.   Make sure to seal bags with twist-ties or clips.
5. Refrigerate turkey in brine  for 18 to 20 hours.

Roast Turkey
1 brined turkey (8-10 pounds)
3 tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup chopped sage
ground pepper to taste.
(No need for salt as turkey is pre-brined)

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees (if you can, turn fan to low setting). Set rack
at lowest position.
2.  Remove turkey from brine. Discard brine, draining turkey very well
and patting dry inside and out.
3.  Rub turkey breast with oil, sage and peppe.r   Tuck wing tips under; tie
legs together loosely to hold shape.
4. Place turkey on a shallow rack in a hotel pan or  roasting pan deep enough
to hold drippings.
5. Begin roasting.  Then baste! baste! baste! baste! baste! every 20 minutes.
Stop basting only for the final 20 minutes of cooking.   If the turkey gets too brown too quickly,  cover loosely with aluminum foil.
6. Cook for 2 to 2-1/2 hours or until internal temperature registers 160 degrees.
7. Remove turkey to a carving board and let rest about 15 minutes.
8. Meanwhile, pour off accumulated fat from roasting pan.   Deglaze with white wine and add those fortified drippings to the gravy for more flavor.

Sausage Stuffing

2 lbs. sausage (casing removed)
2 ounces olive oil
2 cups minced onions
2 tbsp. chopped garlic
2 tsp. finely chopped ginger
1 cup chopped scallions
14 cups  bread crumbs
1 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan.  Add onions and cook slowly till soft  (6 minutes)
2. Add sausage and cook till lightly browned, breaking up meat and stirring constantly.
3. Add garlic and ginger
4. Slowly incorporate bread crumbs and scallions, mixing all ingredients well
5. Finally, add salt, pepper and parsley

This can be made in advance and refrigerated overnight.
Cook stuffing separately from turkey in a buttered hotel pan for about 45 minutes.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. jennyrain says:

    We are so stopping by your house on the way back from lunch @ my D&D’s 🙂 ummmmmmmmmmm!

  2. I am so excited about trying this. One time my brother accidentally cooked the turkey upside down and it was the best I ever had, so this explains it. Just hoping my turkey thaws in time to adequately brine. Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for sharing.

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