Quick Turkey Gravy
Makes 4 cups, about 12 servings
After the turkey has finished cooking, remove it from the pan and carefully pour the fat out, retaining the juices and browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Set it over two burners on the stove on a medium heat. Pour in:
4 cups of chicken or turkey stock
Bring the mixture to a simmer, all the while scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to help deglaze the pan. Reduce the heat and cook slowly for 5 minutes. Mix to a smooth paste:
¼ cup of water
3 tablespoons of cornstarch
Whisking constantly, gradually pour this mixture into the simmering broth, then cook for 1 minute. Season to taste with:
Sherry, port, Madeira or white wine
Salt and pepper
Serve with turkey.
Bread Stuffing with Sausage, Nuts and Dried Fruit
Makes about 12 cups
High quality sausage is the key to this recipe. Roast nuts (pecans or walnuts) in a 350-degree oven until fragrant — 6 to 8 minutes. These burn easily so keep an eye on them!
1 pound of sage breakfast sausage (removed from casings or in bulk) crumbled
6 Tablespoons (3/4 of a stick) unsalted butter
1 large onion chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
4 medium celery stalks chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
½ teaspoon each of dried sage, dried thyme and dried marjoram
½ teaspoon of black pepper
½ cup of fresh parsley
2 cups of walnuts or pecans, toasted and roughly chopped (soak in warm water until soft after roasting)
1 cup of dried apricots, currants or raisins, chopped
1 teaspoon of salt
12 cups of dried or day-old French bread cubed (1 lb. or 1 loaf)
1 cup chicken or turkey stock
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Discard the fat. In the same pan, melt the butter.
Add onions and celery and cook until they are soft and translucent, 6 to 7 minutes. Add dried herbs and pepper and cook for another minute. Transfer to the bowl with the sausage; add the parsley, nuts, fruit and salt and mix to combine. Add the bread cubes to the bowl.
Whisk the stock together with the eggs and pour the mixture over the bread crumbs. Gently toss to distribute the ingredients evenly (use your hands).
Place the stuffing in a casserole dish, cover with foil and heat until the stuffing is hot. If you have a microwave, you can heat stuffing for 6 to 8 minutes or heat in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Spoon the hot stuffing into the turkey (usually will hold 4 to 5 cups) until loosely packed. Secure the skin over the cavity opening with skewers and roast the turkey. Using a thermometer, the stuffing should read 165 degrees inside the turkey. If the stuffing is not hot enough when the turkey is done, remove the stuffing and continue to heat it in the oven. For the rest of the stuffing, dot the top with butter, cover with foil, and cook for another 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to cook for 15 minutes or until a golden crust is formed and it is done.
Brining Solution for Turkey
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking
This recipe calls for a soak of 12 hours. Increase salt and sugar levels if you want to soak your bird for a shorter length of time. Remember brined meat tends to cook faster!
Remove the giblets from the turkey and rinse the bird, inside and out. In a clean bucket or tub, mix the following ingredients with six gallons of tap water until the salt dissolves:
2 cups of table salt or 4 cups of kosher salt (2 lbs. of salt; for Diamond Kosher, use 2 cups / Morton Kosher use 1 ½ cups)
2 cups of sugar
A few bay leaves
Some peppercorns lightly crushed
2 gallons of water
Submerge the turkey in the solution for 12 hours. Put the turkey in a very cool place for 4 to 6 hours. The turkey’s temperature should not rise above 38 degrees. If it is a warm day, place the turkey and solution in a garbage bag and place in a cooler filled with ice. If it is a cold day, a garage or trunk of a car should be fine. Do not leave the turkey unattended outside or a bear or neighborhood dog may be the lucky recipient of your Thanksgiving dinner.
Remove the turkey from the brine. Do NOT reuse brine! Thoroughly rinse inside and out, then pat the skin and cavity dry. Your turkey is now ready for roasting.
(For a more intense brine, boil ingredients with one gallon of water, then add five gallons of cold tap water. When water is cool, submerge the turkey.)