- 1 fresh heritage turkey, 12 to 14 pounds (consider a Bourbon Red)
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 stick softened sweet butter
- 2 tbs. paprika
- 1 large Spanish (yellow) onion, diced
- 3 cups rich turkey or chicken stock
- 3 tbs. flour
- 3 tbs. sweet butter
- 8 cups cubed, dried, seasoned bread cubes
- 2 tbs. fresh minced sage leaves
- 1 pound fresh chestnuts, in the shell
- Turkey liver and gizzard from the bird, minced fine
- 3 ounces fresh chicken livers, minced
- 1 cup minced celery
- 1 cup minced Spanish (yellow) onion
- 2 tbs. melted butter
- 2 tbs. minced parsley
- 1 tbs. fresh thyme leaves
2 Days Before
- Brine your bird: Place the turkey in a large pot; add enough cold water to cover it.
- Remove the bird and reserve to a platter for a moment.
- Dissolve the sugar and salt into the water by gently stirring.
- Return bird to the large pot.
- Refrigerate for 12 to 16 hours.
1 Day Before
- Remove bird from the brine and place on a roasting rack fitted into a roasting pan to catch any drips.
- Allow bird to dry, uncovered, for 24 hours in the refrigerator. This will tighten the skin for extra crispness and color.
Part 1: Turkey and Stuffing
- Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let rest for one hour at room temperature.
- While the bird sits, place an X mark with a paring knife across the tops of the chestnuts and roast at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until cooked through.
- Peel and reserve nutmeats, slicing them into quarters as best you can.
- Place the sliced onion into the bottom of the roasting pan along with the turkey neck, so the drippings will land on the onions. Set aside.
- Combine the bread cubes, chestnuts and the other stuffing ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Stuff the turkey and place any remaining stuffing in a suitable oven-to-table casserole dish and reserve.
Part 2: Turkey and Stuffing
- Rub turkey with the soft butter and sprinkle lightly with the paprika.
- Tie or skewer legs together. Place the racked turkey in a 325-degree oven, breast side down, and roast for about 16 minutes per pound.
- Check that the thigh meat has reached a temperature of 160 degrees. To do this, insert a food thermometer into the meatiest part of the thigh and take the temperature. NOTE: Do not touch the bone with the thermometer. Repeat this process with the deepest part of the stuffed breast. For safety, it should be over 145 degrees.
- When the turkey is done, let it rest in a warm part of your kitchen. Place the baking dish with the spare stuffing into the oven and turn up the temperature to 375 degrees. Cover the stuffing loosely with aluminum foil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes while you carve the turkey and make the gravy.
- Place the turkey on a carving board and tent with aluminum foil. Set aside.
- Pour stock into the roasting pan, place pan over medium heat and bring to a boil, scraping back and forth to loosen any “roasty-toasty” bits that may stick to the pan. Lower to a simmer until the liquid reduces to roughly 2 1/2 cups.
- Pour the contents of the roasting pan through a mesh strainer and into a large work bowl. (Discard the contents of the strainer.) Skim off all the fat and reserve.
- Combine the flour and butter in a 1-quart saucepan. Cook for several minutes over medium heat to make a cooked roux (roux is a mixture of fat (especially butter) and flour used in making sauces).
- Add the strained and reserved stock to the roux, in thirds, whisking as you go. Gently simmer until thickened to gravy consistency and season with the salt and pepper.
- Carve your turkey and place on a platter. Pour any juices you accumulate during carving into the gravy pan.
This recipe originally appeared in “A Breed Apart” in the November 2004 issue of Experience Life.