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THANKSGIVING TURKEY AND DRESSING, GRAVY
Large Honeysuckle White Turkey (around 25 bls), thawed, along with giblets
1 bag plain bread cubes
1 bottle of dry sherry
1 cup finely chopped celery tops
6 small white onions, finely chopped, using food processor
2-3 cubes Knorr chicken bouillon
1-1/2 sticks butter
5 jumbo eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
4 boxes dark raisins (1 1/2 oz size)
1 tsp sugar
Paprika (plain Spice Islands, not strongly flavored Hungarian variety)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Complete thawing of turkey (20-26 lbs) in frig for 3-4 days. Day before roasting, remove giblets and neck. Thoroughly wash bird, pulling out all of spleen and waste matter from cavity. Drain in a clean sink. Cut away any excess fat from cavity and skin flap covering breast. Place bird in large roaster and pour 3/4 of sherry over it, inside and out. Cover and return to frige until next day to marinate.
Prepare dressing day before also. Dissolve 1 bouillon cube in hot water and pour into a heavy pot, add neck and enough extra water to submerge neck. Cover and bring to a good simmer, allowing it to cook until meat can be pulled from bones, usually an hour or a bit more. Clean liver and heart of fat and fiberous matter. Discard gizzard (unless you want to work harder than I do). Chop giblets into fine pieces, then saute in about 1/2 stick butter in a small iron skillet, adding all four spices and S & P. Cook until nicely browned.
In large mixing bowl combine bread cubes, celery tops, onions and raisins. Chop neck meat finely and add. Add sauteed giblets and butter from skillet. Beat eggs in small bowl until frothy, then add milk and beat again. Add to dressing mix along with remaining sherry. Then add nutmeg, thyme, poultry seasoning, paprika, S & P. I prefer more nutmeg as main spice, with a bit less thyme and poultry seasoning. Paprika is strictly a browning agent. The tsp of sugar adds just a hint of sweetness to bring out the full flavors in dressing. Using hand, blend the dressing and check consistancy. It should be light and completely moistened. Taste and adjust amounts of spices, S & P. When it tastes to your liking, place in a glass bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate until stuffing the bird the following morning.
On serving day, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sit bird up in roaster and stuff as much as you can of the dressing inside the skin flap over the breast (this will keep the breast moist during cooking and add flavor). Carefully secure the skin flap to hold dressing by placing skewers through flap and sinking them into turkey's back. When that is closed so it won't leak dressing, lay bird in roaster and stuff the cavity. Not all of dressing will fit. Use a 2 ft length of regular tin foil folded once lengthwise, constructing a U shaped tent beneath the bird's tail and around the legs. Pile remainder of dressing into this "bowl." Melt a stick of butter with a generous amount of paprika. Brush over turkey, being careful to cover inside and outside of wings. Dribble any excess butter on breast and dressing. Then gently fold the foil around the bottom ends of legs to protect them from splitting as bird roasts.
Cover and place in oven. Set timer to baste bird every hour or slightly more often. After liquid in bottom of roaster cooks down a bit, add another bouillon cube dissolved in hot water. Continue basting, watching browning process and liquid levels in roaster. Add more bouillon as needed. When bird's breast starts to brown, tent the bird with a sheet of foil, pressing it to skin, then recovering with lid (this will keep bird from getting too dark before meat inside is cooked and tender). At this point, lower oven temp to 325. Depending on how large bird is, cooking time should range from 4 to 6 hours, or a bit more. Continue regular bastings with a squeege until bird is done. To test for doneness, do not pay attention to the "pop-up" thingy on breast, as it always comes up before bird is done. Use a fork to pry both legs apart at juncture of thighs and check for any pinkness. When legs move freely and inside looks browned, turkey is done. Remove from roaster with two lifting utensils (it will probably break apart at legs). Let bird repose on a board for at least 45 minutes before removing dressing to serving dish and carving bird.
To make gravy, use 5-6 heaping tbls of corn starch blended in a cup of cold water. Add enough Kitchen Bouquet to make roux a medium brown color. Turn burners on under roaster and bring liquids to bubbling, then use a wisk to stir in roux until gravy thickens to desired consistancy. If it's too thick, add. another half bouillon cube dissolved in more water. Adjust S & P to taste. Keep hot in Corningware pot until turkey and dressing is served, ladeling gravy over both (and mashed potatoes if you choose to make them; I always do).
This serves a hoard and will keep well. It's great for a picnic, or goes with most any meat dish.
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