Friday, 5 October 2007

Roasting A Stuffed Turkey

I didn't get an organic turkey this year. I was going to, but the one with my name on it was either et by raccoons or otherwise died of stupidity. Turkeys come by their reputation for not being the sharpest sticks in the yard quite honestly, as far as I can tell. The stories about how you cannot leave them out in a heavy rain for fear they will drown seem to be apocryphal; but they can certainly die of panic and exposure, or for that matter eating their bedding and contracting terminal constipation (the stupidity mentioned above.) In the end, I got a drug-free turkey from Well-Fed Food.

Speaking of panic you will find that it is officially recommended that you not stuff your turkey, for fear of germs. To hell with that. The whole point, as far as I am concerned, of roasting a turkey is to acquire the stuffing, and stuffing that hasn't been stuffed, isn't really stuffing. If you follow me. It needs to be soaked by the juices of the roasting turkey in order to acquire that more-more-more quality, as opposed to being mere food. However, it does make sense to heed the advice to stuff the turkey just before you put it in the oven.

If you can acquire a fresh turkey, rather than a frozen one, so much the better. However, if you start with a frozen turkey, remember to thaw it out slowly; not that you will have much choice. They are solid little buggers. Three days in the fridge is not too long for a big one, say 20 pounds or over. (For some reason, everyone still seems to think of turkeys in pounds.) Smaller than that, you can probably get away with two days of thawing, but you will still do better to allow three.

The general rule for deciding what size turkey to get is to allow 1 pound per person. Some of that will be bone, fat etc, and it should allow for a small quantity of leftovers. Being a household of 2 people, and seeing as there really isn't such a thing as a 2 pound turkey, we got a 12 pounder. Nothing wrong with a heap of turkey leftovers; au contraire.

Allow 3 days to thaw; 15 minutes per pound to roast
Allow 1 pound per person

1 turkey
1 to 2 recipes stuffing
1 1 /2 cups chicken stock (leftover from cooking the rice)

The first thing to do is to give your turkey an exam: remove any ends of feathers, using tweezers. Check around the cavities for excess fat, and remove it - much easier now than later. Give it a rinse and pat it dry if you feel it needs it. Put it in the roasting pan and set it aside.

Okay, onward: let's make the stuffing. I made a grain-medley one, but you can bet that if I could eat bread, I would replace the grain mix with about 6 cups of cubed stale whole wheat sandwich bread; something you might like to keep in mind.

Stuff the turkey as directed. Carefully pour about half a cup of the remaining chicken stock into the main stuffed cavity. Place the turkey in the preheated oven (to 300°F), and roast it until done. At about the half-way point, baste the turkey with the remaining cup of chicken stock. If you have a very large turkey and it is as brown as you would like it before it is done, cover it with a tent of aluminum foil.

How do you know it is done? I still use the leg-wiggle test. (Wiggle a leg. It should feel loose.) If you want more precision, use a meat thermometer. Stick it well into the breast, but not to the bone. It should register 165°F. To estimate the expected time to roast the turkey, allow 15 minutes per pound - it may take a bit longer, but probably not much, especially if you have a larger turkey.

When the turkey is out of the oven, it still needs to rest for 20 minutes to half an hour to allow the juices to calm down; which is very convenient because it will give you time to make the gravy and get everything else organized.


erin said...

this turkey looks a little like a mummy! that said, mine always get a bit burnt on top, but they're still delicious and dripping with juices, so i'm sure yours tasted amazing.

Kevin said...

I have yet to try cooking a whole turkey as it is bit intimidating. Your turkey dinner looks really good. Having lots of turkey leftovers is a really great bonus! I just remembered my favorite use of turkey leftovers; a turkey sandwich with lettuce, cranberry sauce and a touch of mayo.

Ferdzy said...

Yum. I love a good turkey sandwich, too bad I can't have one. I have to admit I'm a purist: bread, mayo, salt and TURKEY.

I also have to admit my turkey got a touch overdone. I got distracted by the 6 police cars, including canine unit and forensic investigation van right outside our door. Still don't know what that was about...

Valli said...

I hope you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving!!! Yes, turkey is not tureky without the stuffing!!! Thanks for all your tips and suggestions!!