Grace your Thanksgiving table with this spectacular, moist and delicious bird that will have everyone praising your culinary skills. This recipe is my mothers with one addition that my sister did last year and that was to add sausage to the dressing. There are many different opinions on to stuff a turkey or not to stuff a turkey. Some say you have to cook the turkey too long if it is stuffed, resulting in a dry turkey or undercooking it and the dressing may not be done. However, we have always stuffed our turkey and have made sure to use a thermometer to ensure the dressing was cooked to proper temperature and the turkey has never been dried out, but very moist and juicy. Perhaps the dressing helps keep the turkey moist and the turkey juices keep the dressing moist. I have tried making turkey many different ways – roasting it without stuffing and placing the dressing in a separate baking dish (resulting in a drier dressing that I am not fond of) and using bags (which I would recommend as long as you stuff the turkey too, even though it adds an extra step). Always make sure you leave time to thaw the turkey, the size of this one took 4 days in the refrigerator. Please read the label on the turkey to make sure you have adequate amount of time to thaw. Ideally get your turkey the weekend before Thanksgiving and that should allow adequate time to thaw. For a moister turkey try to get one about 15 pounds or under. For another gravy option see Easy Turkey Gravy. If you have leftovers see my recipe Turkey Salad Sandwiches.
1 – 14 – 15 pound turkey thawed (this could take up to 4 days to thaw in the fridge)
Butter flavored non-stick cooking spray
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 very large roasting pan and foil
1 lb. of Bob Evan’s brand pork sausage with sage or regular sausage
Half of a yellow onion diced about 1/2 of a cup
1 celery stalk diced
1 egg beaten
1 -14 oz. can of chicken broth
1 – 10 oz. can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/4 cup of milk
2 – 3 tablespoons of rubbed sage
1 tablespoon of poultry seasoning
A pinch of allspice
A pinch of nutmeg
Half of a 14 oz. bag of Pepperidge Farm brand Country Style Stuffing
Half of a 20 oz. bag of bread (your choice – white or wheat) torn into bite sized pieces
Giblets and neck from turkey
3 cups of water
1 – 14 oz. can of chicken broth
1/4 cup of cornstarch
1/2 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon of poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper or more to taste
Start by making the dressing. In a large skillet brown the sausage over medium high heat. Set aside. Dice the onion and celery and set aside. In a very large bowl beat the egg and whisk together egg, broth, soup, milk and seasonings. Add the sausage, onion, celery, Pepperidge Farm bread crumbs and torn bread. Using your hands mix well until evenly coated. Mixture should be very moist but not soaking wet. Set aside and prepare turkey.
Remove neck, giblets and any packages from inside the turkey cavity. If giblets and neck are in a bag, remove them, rinse and refrigerate the neck and giblets because they will be used to make the gravy. The gravy needs two hours to make, so plan accordingly. Place the turkey in a very large roasting pan and stuff with dressing including the top opening. Quite a bit of the dressing will spill out of the bottom part and that is okay. Spray the top and sides of the turkey with the butter flavored non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Cover with foil and place into a preheated oven at 350 degrees. Baste the turkey every 30 minutes to an hour to keep moist. Roast for 4 to 4 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the turkey, cooking times may vary. The last half hour remove the foil and the turkey will have a nice brown color. This particular turkey took 4 1/2 hours. The internal temperature of the inner most part of the dressing should read 165 degrees without touching a bone and check the breast and thigh as well without touching the bone. Let rest for about 20 minutes. Serve carved or whole and optionally garnish the platter with any available herbs, cranberries or other fruit if desired.
The gravy will need two hours to simmer so start early. No need to sweat, all you have to do is stir every now and then. Make gravy by placing the giblets and neck in a medium to large pot with 3 cups of water over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer, lid tilted for about 2 hours or until liquid is reduced by about half and neck meat is falling off the bone. Remove giblets and neck and save the liquid it is now your turkey broth. If you want smooth gravy discard giblets and neck. If you want giblet gravy, let giblets and neck cool until you can shred the meat off the neck and dice the giblets. Add neck and giblets if using, chicken broth, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper to the pot with the turkey broth and stir and bring to a boil. Make a thickening agent by whisking cornstarch and water. Once gravy is boiling slowly whisk in thickening agent until desired consistency. Gravy will not thicken until brought to a boil.
Try J. Lohr Chardonnay (California) or Bogle Vineyards Chardonnay (California), Parducci Family Farmed Pinot Noir (California), Hahn Estates Meritage (California), Chateau Grand Tertre Bordeaux Clairet (France), Domaine De Ricaud Bordeaux Clairet (France), Samuel Adams® Cranberry Lambic (Boston MA), Samuel Adams® Winter Lager (Boston MA), Chimay Ale Pères Trappistes Première (Known as Chimay Red) (Belgium), Flensburger Brauerei Pilsener Lager German Lager Beer or Flensburger Brauerei Gold Premium Lager Beer (Germany).