- 1 1/2 cups dried California figs, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 cups warm water
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
- 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing and crumbled
- 10 large cornbread muffins, torn into pieces, or 1 loaf cornbread, cubed (about 5 cups)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 to 1 cup chicken or turkey stock, homemade or store-bought
- 1 (10 to 12 pound) fresh turkey
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, (1 softened)
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Begin by re-hydrating the figs. In a large mixing bowl combine the figs, honey, lemon juice; cover with the warm water. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 20 to 25 minutes until the figs are tender and soft. Pour off the liquid and reserve for the glaze.
Meanwhile, heat a little extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat and gently saute the onions with rosemary. Add the sweet Italian sausage and continue to saute until browned, 10 to 12 minutes. When done, scrape it all into the bowl with the figs, Add the cornbread pieces and season well with salt and pepper. Give it a good toss until it's well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, and 1/2 cup stock, and pour that over the cornbread. (Add up to 1/2 cup more stock if the stuffing is dry. ) Stir the stuffing together and set it aside while you work on the turkey.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rinse the bird thoroughly inside and out with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Using your fingers, gently lift the skin from the turkey breast and using 1 stick of butter, massage it onto the breast meat. Sprinkle the cavity and skin liberally with salt and pepper. Stuff the bird with the cornbread stuffing and truss it (or just cross the legs over one another and tie with a piece of kitchen twine). Put the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan, and place in the oven.
In a small saucepan set the fig liquid over medium heat and bring to a simmer to reduce, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar; simmer, cook until syrupy. Cut up the remaining stick of butter and whisk it into the balsamic mixture. Use the glaze to baste the turkey.
Roast the turkey for 2 hours. About 20 minutes before the turkey in done, baste the turkey with the fig glaze, coating it well. Continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meaty part of the thigh registers 170 degrees F. The thigh juices will run clear when pricked with a knife, about 3 hours total (15 minutes per pound). If the legs or breast brown too quickly during roasting, cover them with foil. Transfer turkey to a cutting board, loosely covered with foil to rest for up to 30 minutes before carving.