Thursday, November 15, 2007

(Not Gonna) Stuff It

I must confess that this is only my second year of making Thanksgiving dinner. Years past, I'd always been going to my mom's, and now my in-laws these last five years. I spent a lot of years longing to cook that meal myself. To recreate it. Last year, when the football game fell on Thanksgiving, we got our first chance. This year, the big family meal is moved again for a football game, and my husband and I are back in the kitchen for the smaller meal.

So, when you ask for a stuffing recipe (Jen!) I don't have the old family secret one to pull out. I'm still inventing. The following comes from a while perusing Gourmet, cook books and other sources, plus my own ideas, and I am going to go with it. There will be a lot more dishes on the table to keep me safe if it doesn't work out!

My husband is going to brine our fresh, pastured turkey using salt, apple cider and spices. Then we will do a maple-sage glaze on it. He's the go-to guy for all the roasting of large beasts (and most roasts) around here. I want to keep the sage and apple flavor in the stuffing. (Jen, just omit the apples and use all chicken stock if you go this route!). I went with sausage because the farmer where we will get our pork and turkey was out of bacon. Bacon and maple are amazing together. Cornbread is also new, I think it will be a good change. We'll have a loaf of great bread on the table as well.

One thing. I don't believe in stuffing the turkey. For a couple reasons.

First, there is a bit of a food safety issue if the stuffing does not cook through. Nobody likes salmonella for the holidays. Second, the bird is already damn hard to cook on it's own without adding another variable to the mix. See, the breast cooks faster than the thighs and dark meat, and it can dry out. You have to juggle the foil over that part and timing on the other parts. Worrying about the stuffing cooking may screw up the timing on the meat. Nobody likes dry turkey, which is worse than bad stuffing. So, no stuffing the stuffing here.

That said, here's the general idea of our stuffing:

Apple, Sausage and Sage Stuffing
Looking for this recipe? It will be part of an upcoming book with Ali at Cleaner Plate Club.


jen said...

you need to know i am totally going cornbread this year all because of you. and i should state for the record that means i actually have to bake some cornbread first.

can't wait, actually.

and i AM going to stuff it. i'm crazy like that.

The Expatriate Chef said...

Damn, I just posted this! You are fast. Be sure the stuffing is room temp before you put it in the bird, I want you to stay healthy!

Stuffing is hard not to do, especially if you just have one oven. Makes it tough.

You are crazy, and I love that about you.

espringf said...

So technically, you are having dressing instead of stuffing. I'm with you all the way on that! I want those pan juices for other things, not just soaking into the dressing. Makes it too wet, anyway!

katiez said...

I used to love cooking big Thanksgiving dinners!
The problem here is finding an oven big enough and a turkey small enough...
Last year, for Christmas I found an 8 lb turkey, just perfect for us. The next smallest one was 22 lbs....I'd have to cut it into small pieces to get it in my oven!
Your turkey sounds delicious - I look forward to the official verdict!

Carina said...

My mother's secret trick always works for me. You seal the turkey all the way up with aluminum foil, and roast it really hot (450 F), really fast (3-4 hours, depending on the size). You can't open it and peek. It's always a bit nerve wracking when you finally open it...but I haven't had a dry or less than perfect bird yet! And the stuffing is always nice and hot.

And we have the same oven problem here in Oz. We've solved it by cooking our turkey in a barbeque with a hood. It also solves the climate's always way too hot here at Thanksgiving time to have the oven on all day!