Classic Christmas Turkey

So, this is my go-to Christmas turkey recipe. This has never, ever failed me. Ummm….Except for the time the dog pulled it off the plate, dragged it through the house, and hid in the bedroom while munching happily away.

This will serve 8-12 people comfortably. We pretty much serve this alternating Thanksgiving & Christmas dinner (Two of these a month apart is a bit much on waistlines).

Lets get started here. I usually start around 7am with a target serving time around 3-5 pm. But first, I crank up the old DVD player on repeat and force everyone to watch “A Christmas Story” for 24 hours. I truly believe it to be one of the penultimate literary classics.

“A Christmas Story”

Unfortunately, no one else in my family appreciates my exquisite taste. So, they crank up their own tunes and start conversations…gasp. Oh well, at least I can see it from the kitchen.

First we’ll prepare the stuffing for the turkey and prep the turkey for cooking.

Turkey

This recipe uses a stale bread stuffing in deference to my Northeast upbringing. I’ve lived in the South most of my life, so down here the favorite is cornbread or oyster dressing.

1 18-22 lb. Turkey cleaned and patted dry

1 Medium chop Vidalia onion.
5 c Stale Bread; roughly torn
1 c Whole Milk
2 eggs
1/4c Butter; melted
1 tsp Sea salt
1 tbsp Fresh ground pepper
1-1/2 tsp Poultry seasoning

 

Dressing

Prepare the dressing. Place the bread into a large stainless bowl. Add the onion, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and mix by hand until incorporated.
Beat the eggs, butter, & milk together in a separate bowl, and then add to the bread mixture gradually while turning by hand. You’ll need to watch the consistency of the final stuffing, and adjust liquid until it is wet but holds together shape for stuffing.

Adjusting the final consistency

Stuff the cleaned cavity of the turkey with the stuffing mixture. You’re looking for a slight compression of the stuffing to fully fill the cavity. You can also stuff the neck section where the giblets have been removed.

Spooning the dressing into the cavity

Now truss the legs closed using kitchen twine. Nothing fancy, just tuck the drumstick ends together and tie. Sometimes depending on the turkey you can simply tuck the drumstick ends under the fat. As you can see, this particular turkey didnt want to cooperate with a simple tuck, so we truss it to keep things secure.

Trussing the drumsticks

Now, we’ll lighly coat the turkey with a good quality olive oil. This will help the turkey from drying out during cooking and enhance the browning.

Lightly coat the turkey with oil

Now, cover the wingtips with aluminum foil. This will keep the wings from overcooking. We also will construct a lifting harness from kitchen twine. This is a lifesaver when trying to move the turkey from the roasting pan to your serving plate when cooking is complete.

 

Trussing a lifting harness to the turkey

Place in a preheated 325 oven. Cooking times will vary, but a good estimate is around 4-1/2 to 5 hours. Verify the temperature with a good quality thermometer inserted behind the thigh. Temperature should be 180. Breast or stuffing temperature should be 165.
Note> If the breasts start browning too much, just lightly cover the top of the turkey with a piece of aluminum foil.

 

Lets Eat !!

 

Sauce

Ok…gravy

This pretty much uses pan drippings, and is simple and delicious. Once the turkey has been removed from the roasting pan, we can proceed with the gravy.

We’ll need to whip up come turkey stock to use for the sauce. 2 quarts of water, turkey neck, dash of salt. Thats it. Cook at a low simmer for an hour or so, the neck meat should peel back easily from the neck. Strain and you’re all set. You should start this early in the day, it will keep until you’re ready to make the sauce.

Turkey stock from neck

Now on to the sauce.
First we’ll cut up the giblets removed from the cavity. Set aside & reserve.

Rough chop giblets

Pour the liquid from the rosting pan into a fat separator. Leave about 1/4c of fat in the pan. Bring up to heat on a high burner and add 1/3c of flour stirring constantly. I use Wondra for this due to its fine consistency. We are making a roux here, once thickened to a light brown add 1/2c chopped onion. Stir, until the onion is translucent. Add the giblets and lightly cook/

Add the separated pan juices to the roasting pan, stirring constantly. Slowly incorporate fresh chicken or turkey stock to the pan, until thickened to your desired consistency. Strain off into container for serving.

 

Fini

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