October 6, 2011

31 Days {Day 7} You Big Turkey!

Today, for a change of pace, I introduce MorganDesignInc's first guest writer, my dad, Patrick!

"I feel larger birds (over 20 pounds) are more flavourful and moist. I tend to go for one 23-26 pounds, lots of leftovers and I can send some home with my kids!

Start with making your stuffing:

Turkey Stuffing (12-14 pound turkey, proportionally more for larger birds)

1 cup celery, finely diced

2 medium onions, finely diced

¼ cup butter (margarine), melted

1 cup mushrooms, finely diced

1 tsp salt (can use less)

1/8 tsp black pepper (or more!)

3 tsp poultry seasoning (or more, to taste!)

10 cups bread cubes (1 large loaf)

¼ cup chicken stock ( or boullion cube with ¼ cup hot water)

Saute onions, celery and mushrooms in butter until transparent. Add spices to veggies. Add veggies/spices to bread cubes. Add chicken stock as required to stuffing and stir well. Aim is for stuffing to be slightly moist, not dry and not saturated/soggy.

Stuff neck/crop area and sew skin to contain stuffing. Stuff body cavity, not too tightly but not loose.

Cover turkey loosely with foil (shiny side in) and put in preheated (325 degree) oven. The last 45 minutes, remove foil covering and continue roasting until skin browns up nicely (baste if desired). Remove from oven and let rest for 20 minutes or more before carving. (time to make gravy in roasting pan). Carve no more than required at one time, as leftover breast meat pre-sliced will tend to dry out.

8-12 pounds = 4 - 4 1/2 hours

12-16 pounds = 4 ½ - 5 ½ hours

16-20 pounds = 5 ½ - 6 ½ hours

20-24 pounds = 6 ½ - 7 ½ hours

Larger birds, proportionally more time.

By doubling the stuffing quantities, I end up with more stuffing than will fit in a bird. My solution is to remove the last two joints of the wings, and place that and the neck on top of a Pyrex dish full of uncooked stuffing. Pop it in the oven for about 1 ½ - 2 hours and keep covered when removed from oven. Once it’s cooled, I remove the neck/wings (discard), and cover the stuffing up again to prevent excessive moisture loss. I line the bottom of the Pyrex casserole dish with aluminum foil, shiny side out. Then I completely wrap the stuffing in another layer of foil, shiny side in and sealed (to keep the moisture in). With stuffing cooked without the benefit of a turkey around it, the main challenge is to keep it moist. Too high of heat or not having the stuffing sealed up inside foil is a recipe for very dry stuffing (not what I like!).

For our family, traditional vegetables to go with turkey include brussels sprouts (not everyone enjoys them), carrots, niblet corn, mashed potatoes, and candied yams (peel, boil until cooked, drain, mash and add margarine, spoon into casserole dish and cover with a layer of brown sugar, then back in the oven for 30 minutes)"

There you have it, folks. My Dad's tips on the best turkey. And although his intructions are perfect and easy to follow, I think I will still just let him take care of it on Monday night. And by all means, Dad, I will help you out with any leftovers!

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