Roast Turkey with Herb Stuffing & Gravy

 

If you’ve never tackled stuffing and roasting a whole turkey before, or if you just need a refresher on cooking that perfect bird, this 101 cooking lesson is for you. A fresh turkey really does have a superior texture and flavour and it’s usually best to order ahead from your butcher or meat department to make sure you get the right size. If you are using a frozen turkey be sure to allow for plenty of thaw time to thaw in the refrigerator and never thaw at room temperature. The turkey for this recipe would take 2 1/2 – 3 days to thaw completely. Any stuffing you can’t fit in the bird can be cooked in a buttered casserole dish after the turkey comes out of the oven.

HERB STUFFING
1/4 cup (60 ml) butter
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2tbsp (30 ml) chopped fresh sage
1 tsp (5 ml) chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp (2 ml) celery seeds
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried savoury (optional)
salt & freshly ground pepper
1 cup (250 ml)approx. turkey or chicken stock
14 cups (3.5 ml) cubed day old bread

TURKEY
1 Turkey, 12 – 14 lbs (5.5 to 6.5 kg) 
1/4 cup (60 ml) butter, melted
1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped fresh sage
1/4 tsp (1 ml) chopped fresh rosemary
salt and freshly ground pepper 

GRAVY
2 cups (500 ml) approx. turkey or chicken stock
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp (5ml) chopped fresh sage
1/3 cup (80 ml) all-purpose flour
 1/3 cup (80 ml) dry white wine
salt and freshly ground pepper 

 1. For the stuffing, melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add celery, onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes or until starting to soften. Add sage, rosemary, celery seeds, savoury (if using) and 1/2 tsp (2 ml) each salt and pepper; saute for 5 minutes or until onions start to turn golden. Pour in about 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the stock and scrape up brown bits.

2. Transfer vegetables to a large bowl and mix with bread. Add enough stock to moisten stuffing (when you squeeze it, a handful should just hold together). Season with salt and pepper, let cool completely.

3. Preheat oven to 325F (160C).

4. Remove any giblets and parts tucked in cavity of turkey and reserve for the stock if desired. Rinse turkey inside and out with cool running water and pat dry with paper towels. Place breast side up on a rack in a large roasting pan. You want at least 1 inch  (2.5 cm) of space between the turkey and the sides of the pan.

5. Fill cavity with the stuffing, packing lightly, but not to tight, in order to leave room for expansion when cooking. Bring legs together towards the opening of the cavity and tie with kitchen string. Lift the flap of skin at the neck and stuff the smaller cavity, if desired.

6. Combine melted butter, sage, rosemary and about 1/2 (2 ml) each of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Brush all over the outside of the turkey.

7. Insert the probe of a meat thermometer between the leg and the breast with end of the probe into the thickest part of the thigh and without touching the bone.

8. Roast for 3 1/2 to 4 hours until thermometer for both meat and stuffing reads 180 F (82C). Transfer turkey to a large cutting board and cover loosely with foil to “tent”.

9. For the gravy, remove rack from roasting pan. Pour pan drippings into a large liquid measuring cup. Let stand for 2 minutes. Spoon off the fat that floats to the top of the cup, (an idea to speed up this process is to add ice cubes which will solidify the fat faster). Reserve 1/4 cup (60 ml); discard remaining fat. Pour in enough stock to remaining pan juices to make 3 cups (750 ml) total liquid.

10. Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Return the reserved fat to roasting pan and heat until sizzling. Add onion and sage and saute for 3 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and cook, while whisking to make sure flour is incorporated with the fat, for one minute. Gradually pour in the wine, while whisking. Gradually pour in the stock, keep whisking to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer whisking often for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

11. To carve the turkey, untie the legs and spoon stuffing out of the cavities into a warm serving bowl, cover and keep warm.

12. Cut legs from turkey, inserting knife between the thigh joint and the body and using the knife to cut the meat while slightly wriggling the leg to loosen the joint. Carve meat from the thigh and serve drumstick whole if desired. To cut the breast meat position the turkey so the neck is farthest away from you. Make a cut along the breast down the centre of the turkey starting from the neck and working towards you an dkeeping the knife blade as close to the bone as possible, carfully cutting themat away from the bone in one large piece. Transfer the large piece of breast to a cutting board, then cut cross wise into slices. Repeat on the left side. Cut wings loose from the body, wiggling loose as you did the legs.

Finally you are ready to serve the turkey with the hot gravy and stuffing alongside. Refrigerate any leftovers within 1 hour.  Enjoy this meal with a nice Pinot Noir, the soft tannins and earthy, berry fruit notes provide the right combination of flavours for this dish or a nice Chardonnay, another favourite with a turkey dinner.

Enjoy!