Roasting a Turkey

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 day 1 hr 10 min
  • Prep: 40 min
  • Inactive: 18 hr 30 min
  • Cook: 6 hr
  • Yield: 10 to 12 servings
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1 (12 to 15-pound) brined turkey, recipe follows

1 tablespoon freshly ground white pepper

Cornbread, Apple, and Sausage Stuffing, recipe follows 

4 cups homemade chicken stock, or low-sodium canned

2 medium onions, roughly chopped

2 carrots, roughly chopped

2 celery stalks, roughly chopped

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley stems (about 1 bunch)

Chris's Thanksgiving Gravy, for serving, recipe follows, optional

2 gallons cold water

 2 cups bourbon 

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons coarse salt 

1 cup sugar

 1 (12 to 15-pound) turkey, giblets removed and rinsed

Cornbread, Apple and Sausage Stuffing:

 Cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes 

1 pound sweet Italian sausage

 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

4 medium red onions, finely chopped

 8 celery stalks, finely chopped

 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped 

1 cup dried cranberries 

1 1/2 cups half-and-half

 1/2 cup chopped fresh sage

Chris's Thanksgiving Gravy:

 5 cups homemade chicken stock, or low-sodium canned

 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

 Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons salt and the white and black pepper. Rub the inside and outside of the turkey with the salt-and-pepper mixture. Fill the large cavity and neck cavity with as much stuffing as they hold comfortably. Do not pack tightly, or the stuffing will not cook through. (If all the stuffing does not fit, simply transfer the extra to a buttered baking dish, and bake covered, for 30 minutes and uncovered for 15 minutes more in a preheated 375 degree F oven.) Tie the legs together loosely with kitchen twine. Fold the neck flap under, and secure with toothpicks. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. Fold the wing tips under the turkey. Soak a clean kitchen towel in the chicken stock. Lift the towel out of the stock, and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the turkey. Place the turkey in the oven so breast is facing the front of the oven. Roast for 3 hours, basting every 30 minutes. Carefully remove the towel. Turn roasting pan so the breast is facing the back of the oven. Baste turkey with pan juices. The skin gets fragile as it browns, so baste carefully. Add onions, carrots, celery, and parsley stems to the roasting pan around the turkey. Roast 1 hour more, basting after 30 minutes. Insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not poke into a bone. The temperature should reach 165 degrees F and the turkey should be golden brown. The breast does not need to be checked for temperature. If the legs are not fully cooked, baste the turkey, return to the oven, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. When fully cooked, remove the turkey from the oven, and let it rest, covered, for at least 20 minutes. Transfer to a carving board. Make the gravy, and serve with turkey.
  2. Brining a Turkey: 
  3.  In a pot large enough to accommodate the turkey, combine 2 gallons water, the bourbon, 2 cups salt, and the sugar. Stir to dissolve salt and sugar. Add turkey, and refrigerate for 18 to 36 hours. Remove turkey from the brine, and dry well with paper towels. Let stand, covered, at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.

Cornbread, Apple and Sausage Stuffing:

  1.  Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Place cornbread cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until dry, about 20 minutes; set aside. In a large saute pan over medium heat, cook sausage until it's no longer pink. Transfer to a small bowl; set aside. Melt butter in the same saute pan. Add onion and celery, and cook over medium heat until translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add apples and cranberries, stir to combine, and cook 5 minutes. Add half-and-half, and cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Add sage, and remove from heat. Transfer to a large bowl. Add cornbread and sausage; stir to combine. Let cool completely before stuffing the turkey, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Yield: enough stuffing for a 12 to 15 pound turkey. Cornbread: 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, for baking pan 1 1/2 cups coarse yellow cornmeal 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon coarse salt 1 1/4 cups milk 1 tablespoon molasses 1 large egg Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking pan. In a medium bowl, sift together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine milk, molasses, and egg. Add to the dry ingredients, and mix well. Pour batter into prepared baking pan, and bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. When cool, gently run a knife around pan; unmold. Yield: 1 (8-inch) pan

Chris's Thanksgiving Gravy:

  1.  When turkey is fully cooked and has been removed from the roasting pan, place the pan over medium heat. Add chicken stock. Bring liquid to a boil, scraping the crisp bits from the bottom and sides with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until fat rises to the surface, about 10 minutes, then skim it off and reserve. Transfer defatted stock mixture to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. In a second saucepan over medium heat, add melted butter and enough reserved fat to make 1/3 cup. Add flour, and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove half of this mixture from the saucepan, and set aside. Whisk in the simmering stock mixture. If a thicker gravy is desired, add more of the reserved flour mixture, a little bit at a time, until thickened. Continue to cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Yield: 10 to 12 servings