The turkey is the signature dish of Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner. This was my very first time making a turkey. I approached it with patience, calm, and lots of advance preparation. The result is a flavorful, moist, and beautiful bird.
whole turkey (estimate 1 pound per person)
½ yellow bell pepper
½ orange bell pepper
½ red onion
4 celery stalks
8 tablespoons (1 stick) of butter
spices to taste: kosher salt, pepper, lemon pepper, sage, thyme, celery salt
6 Bay Leaves
roasting pan or large baking dish
Thaw the turkey completely.
Wash and dry the turkey thoroughly inside and out.
I started with a brined young turkey. Brining is a process of soaking a turkey in a solution of water and salt, which helps maintain moisture. Because the turkey was already brined, this process wasn’t required.
Preheat the oven according to turkey package directions.
Chop the bell peppers, onion and celery and mix in a large bowl. Sprinkle with kosher salt and celery salt. Half of the Trinity Mix will be used as you roast the turkey. The other half will be used to make the cornbread stuffing.
Soften the butter. Add spices (about a ½ teaspoon each). Refrigerate.
Remove the giblets (if your turkey has them) and set aside for later to make the gravy.
Shake a little salt and pepper into the turkey cavity. Stuff the turkey with half of the trinity mix and one tablespoon of herbed butter. (Reminder: The other half of the Trinity Mix will be used to make the cornbread stuffing).
Coat the skin of the turkey completely with herbed butter. Be sure to get inside the crevices of the legs and wings.
Set aside the extra herbed butter. It will used to baste the turkey as it roasts.
Gently insert bay leaves on each side between the skin and the flesh of the breast. (I inserted 3 on each side). Take care not to break the skin.
Truss the Turkey
Start by placing the twine underneath the turkey near the wings.
Wrap the twine so that the wings stay close to the turkey.
Bring the twine forward into an “X” (pictured).
Tie the legs together.
Place the turkey in a roasting pan, and cook according to the directions. In my case, I started by roasting at 400 degrees for the first half hour, then reduced the heat to 325 degrees. I basted the turkey with herbed butter every half hour. I also added about a teaspoon of herbed butter to the turkey cavity to season the trinity mix. Cooking time will vary based on the weight of your turkey and your individual oven. I roasted a 14 pound turkey for 4 hours.
Use a meat thermometer to make sure the turkey is the right temperature. Poultry must always be fully cooked. The breast should be 165 degrees, and the thigh should be 180 degrees.
When the turkey is completely done, spoon some of the turkey drippings over the turkey.
Drain the turkey drippings, place them in a plastic container, and refrigerate. The drippings will be used to make the gravy and the cornbread stuffing.
Let the turkey sit for half an hour to cool.
Cover the turkey with plastic wrap to retain moisture and refrigerate.
Make sure to safe the turkey drippings because they will be used to make the turkey gravy and the cornbread stuffing. After you refrigerate the drippings, the fat will rise to the top (see above photo). If you prefer less fat, remove the top layer from the the drippings.
half of the turkey drippings
turkey giblets (optional) with onion, celery, and kosher salt
Using the giblets to flavor the gravy is optional. If you would like to use the giblets, place them in a pan, cover with water, and boil them for approximately one hour. You can also add onion, celery, and kosher salt to the boiling water to enhance the flavor.
Simmer half of the turkey drippings.
If you prepared the giblets, let them simmer in the turkey drippings for flavor.
Follow the instructions on the cornstarch packaging to prepare it for making gravy. In my case, I added one tablespoon cornstarch to ¼ cup cold water. I then added the cornstarch/water mixer to the simmering turkey drippings. The cornstarch mixture thickens the drippings and turned them into gravy.
Add spices (bay leaf, salt and pepper, garlic) as desired.
You can also add a bit of Trinity Mix to your gravy if you like. Just remember you'll also need some for the cornbread stuffing.
Let the gravy cool. Place it in a plastic container and refrigerate.
one loaf of cornbread
turkey giblets (optional)
seasonings: bay leaves, sage, thyme, salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the cornbread in a large bowl. (In my case, I made a loaf of Jiffy corn bread, let it cool, and cut it into small cubes.)
In a small saucepan, sauté the remaining trinity mix in butter. Add the remaining turkey drippings. Add a few bay leaves and season as desired. You can also put a few giblets in the pot to enhance the flavor if desired. Bring the drippings to a boil. Reduce the heat, and then simmer for 10-15 minutes. Then let the mixture cool.
Once the mixture has cooled, strain the trinity mix with a slotted spoon and mix it with the cornbread.
Gradually add the turkey drippings to the cornbread and stir. (You can use more or less of the turkey drippings depending on the consistency you prefer).
Add two beaten eggs to bind the mixture.
Bake the cornbread stuffing at 350 degrees for half an hour. Check to see if the stuffing has browned. If not, continue to bake until the stuffing is the desired color.
ORANGE CRANBERRY SAUCE
8 ounces raw cranberries
2/3 cup orange juice
2/3 cup sugar
Simmer the orange juice and sugar and gradually bring them to a boil. Lower the heat and add cranberries. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes. A few of the cranberries will start to pop, which means the sauce is ready. Place the cranberry sauce in a bowl and let it cool to room temperature. Refrigerate.