Turkey and Dressing-Step by Step
Turkey is a great choice any time of year. It's perfect for serving a crowd and a favorite for holiday meals. I will share with you a time honored traditional Southern recipe for making the turkey pictured below. You have the option to bake the turkey plain or stuffed. If you choose to stuff the turkey, this simply means about an extra thirty to forty-five minutes of cooking time in addition to the regular cooking time. (depending on the size of turkey).
Dressing the Old Fashioned Way
About three days in advance, begin to prepare the stuffing or dressing, as my mother and grandmother called it :) Make ( 2 ) 8" pans of your favorite cornbread, according to the usual directions. Allow to cool. Break it up or cut into cubes. Then using one loaf of store bought or home made bread; tear or cut into cubes, Place the cornbread and bread into a large container. Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon ground sage, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves and 1/2 teaspoon rosemary. Toss to mix, like you would a salad :). Cover with cheesecloth. If you don't have cheesecloth ( a new cook may not even know what cheesecloth is :), you may use a kitchen t-towel. or in a pinch, you can use paper towels. Allow to sit and air-dry for as long as possible, up to 3 days. The idea is to let the seasoned breads dry-out as much as possible, before using. The more dried out and brittle they are, the better they absorb the broths and seasoning flavors..
The Day Before
You can use this time to prepare your onions and celery.
You will need 4 cups of celery and 2 cups of onions.
Wash and rinse well, be careful to rinse each celery rib well as most of these have soil and residue towards the root area.
First the celery
When I was growing up my mother taught me to always ( "de-string" ) the celery ribs. This can be accomplished by using the paring knife to strip the strings from top to bottom. There's nothing worse than choking on long strings of celery, while enjoying a special meal, so I believe this is an important step.
Next, Slice the celery into about 1/4" slices
Next, Chop or dice the onions
Chop or dice the onions
If you have a big problem with tearing when chopping onions, try peeling the onions and placing them into a bowl. Fill with ice water, enough to cover the tops of the onions. Let sit in the ice water for about an hour. Remove, pat dry, then proceed to dice :)
In a large skillet; add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 1 stick of margarine. Allow to melt, then add the onions and celery. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Toss. Place lid on and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.Then, remove from the heat and allow the celery and onions rest, for about 30 minutes.
Add the celery and onions to the cornbread mixture. Toss to mix.
In mixing bowl; add 2 cans of chicken broth, 1 egg and 1/2 stick of melted margarine, 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon ground sage, 1/2 teaspoon thyme. Whisk these together , then pour evenly over cornbread mixture. Toss around to distribute well. Cover and place in the refrigerator.
Timing is Everything
Make sure to have your turkey in the oven by 6:00 am, if you want to serve around noon-ish :)
Prepare your turkey baking pan by adding 1 stick of melted margarine. Spread evenly on the bottom. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon curry powder and 1/2 teaspoon sage.
NOTE: If using a disposable foil pan, be sure to place a cookie sheet underneath.
There is nothing worse than using a foil pan that gets a cut or ripped during the cooking process. This ban cause the juices to leak onto the heating element and can cause severe smoking or even a fire, so it's best to take the extra precaution of placing the cookie sheet underneath the foil pan to catch any dripping or excess juices.
Remove the Giblets and Wash The Turkey
Remove the wrapper from your turkey. taking care not to cut or tear the skin of the turkey as torn, punctured or cut skin will cause you to have a dry turkey. The skin is what holds the juices in during the cooking process.
VERY IMPORTANT; Remove the bag of giblets. This can usually be found under the skin at the neck area, but also check in the cavity at the other end to make sure nothing extra has been placed there :)
Wash the turkey inside and out with fresh cold tap water. Using paper towels, pat dry. Place turkey in prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon sage. 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Using 1 stick of margarine; place pats of margarine around the turkey, especially the wing areas and thighs.
Pre-heat The Oven
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
Get your dressing out of the fridge and fill the chest cavity of the turkey until it protrudes out of the lower part. Stuff it firm, but try not to mash.
Place excess dressing in a baking pan, cover and put in fridge for now.
Make a foil tent.
Make a foil tent by tearing off 2 pieces of foil that measure 6" longer that your baking pan. Fold the long sides twice for added strength. With this foil tent placed atop of of the turkey in pan, gently pull the center top to create a dome tent. The turkey will continually self baste in it's own juices. This will keep the turkey tender and moist.
Place the covered turkey into oven (middle rack, if possible)
Let your turkey bake according to time required for size (poundage)-(SEE CHART BELOW)
Approximate Roasting Times For Stuffed Turkey
Turkey Weight Hours
6 - 8 pounds 3 - 3 1/2 hours
8 - 12 pounds 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 hours
12 - 16 pounds 4 1/2 - 5 1/2 hours
16 - 20 pounds 5 1/2 - 6 hours
20 - 24 pounds 6 - 6 1/2 hours
Turkey Weight Hours
6 - 8 pounds 2 1/2 - 3 hours
8 - 12 pounds 3 - 4 hours
12 - 16 pounds 4 - 5 hours
16 - 20 pounds 5 - 5 1/2 hours
20 - 24 pounds 5 1/2 - 6 hours
35-40 minutes before the turkey is to come out of the oven. Get your excess dressing out. Open the foil tent on the turkey and using a ladle or large spoon; retrieve about 1/2- 3/4 cup of the turkey broth and pour over the extra dressing, Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove and set aside.
NOTE: The last thirty minutes of baking time-remove the foil tent and allow skin to roast to a light golden brown.
Remove from oven, place foil on top and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Remove foil and serve. Optional; You can garnish with many items. Sometimes I garnish with fresh fruit, other times with vegetables. My family's favorite way is when I garnish with grapes. I use a mixture of white and red or concord. this taste wonderful along with the turkey. Apples, peaches and sprigs of parsley work well too.Thin slices of lemon and oranges work well too. Another great garnish is potatoes and carrots. There are many ways to garnish a turkey, so don't be afraid to try something new :)
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