Friday, October 18, 2013

Fun Food Friday- Grandma's Turkey and Stuffing

I absolutely LOVE making Thanksgiving dinner.  And I think I love making it because I have been given one of the absolutely best recipes around!  This is my Grandma Vanden Heuvel's stuffing and it is absolutely amazing!  And it really is not hard to make.  And I make it even easier by using pre-cooked bacon and sausage :).  So if you are in charge of making the turkey this year but are not really excited about it or don't know where to start, here's a recipe for you.  I promise, your guests will LOVE it!  Now I'm a stickler for food safety (I occasionally worked in the cafeteria at Providence Christian College and I had to take a food safety course) so I do NOT recommend stuffing the turkey until you are ready to put it in the oven.  This makes it hard because that means if you're having turkey on Thanksgiving around noon you have to get up at like 4 in the morning to do this, but I think it's worth it knowing you're doing the safe thing :).  If you are going to stuff it the night before so you just have to get up and stick it in the oven, please, please, please completely cool the stuffing before putting it in the turkey so the turkey doesn't start to cook.  Okay, there's my food safety tip. :)  I made a 13 pound turkey so for the step by step directions I did 2/3 of the stuffing recipe.  I put the full recipe down at the bottom, it works great for a 20+ pound turkey.  And if you ever have any questions about making a turkey, please feel free to contact me with them I would be happy to help you out. :)  Enjoy!

Ingredients: Turkey, Bacon, Sausage, Milk, Butter, Celery, Onion, Stove Top Stuffing, Herb Stuffing
Pour some olive oil into a big pot...

And cook the diced celery (1 cup) and onions (1/2 cup)

Cut up about 1/2 a pound of bacon.  I used pre-cooked bacon, if you want to cook the bacon yourself you can cut it up and cook it with the sausage (if you want to cook the sausage yourself too, I use pre-cooked sausage as well, I'm all about making things easy :))

Once the onions and celery are cooked add 6 TBS butter...

and 1 pound of sausage
(I used pre-cooked turkey sausage.  Pork sausage sometimes doesn't sit well with my stomach, so I use turkey and honestly I don't think you can taste a difference)

Mix it all together until the butter is melted

Add 2 boxes of Stove Top Stuffing

And 1 cup herb stuffing

Mix it all together

Bring 4 cups of milk to boil.  Now you have to pay close attention to the milk while you heat it up.  You want to stir it often so the milk doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan (that's why there's nice little specks in my milk, I stirred it with the same spoon I was stirring the stuffing with).  And the second it starts to boil you want to take it off the heat...

Otherwise it will do this :)

Add the boiling milk to the dry stuffing mixture

Mix it all together until it's all combined.  If it seems too moist, add some more herb stuffing.  If it seems too dry, add some more milk (you can just add cold milk).

I put it in a 9x13 pan to cool, that way it doesn't take too long.

I recommend getting the turkey out of the package the night before.  Mine had been thawing in the refrigerator for 4 days, but it still was a little frozen inside.  Plus this way you get all the yummy stuff they leave inside for you out :).  Just place the turkey on a big baking sheet...

Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the refrigerator until you are ready to stuff and cook it

Place the turkey in a roasting pan.  I like to use these nice big disposable foil ones, they work great!  And now it's time to stuff this bird.  I stuff the main cavity first

Just go ahead and fill that bird right up

I stuff mine as full as it will go.  Stuffing is the best when it's cooked inside the turkey

Then just get a good old needle and thread and sew up the turkey. 

It doesn't have to be pretty as you can see, it just needs to hold it all together so the stuffing doesn't fall out.  And I recommend just throwing away the needle when you're done :). 

Now flip that bird over and fill up the back side with the rest of the stuffing.  If you have any stuffing that didn't fit in the bird, just bake it in a separate baking dish for about 45 minutes (I like to add some chicken stock halfway through to make it nice and moist).

And then go ahead and sew up the back end.

Then this is a really lovely part :)  Rub the whole turkey down with butter.  This makes the skin nice and golden and crispy and delicious.

Place the turkey breast side down.  Most recipes tell you to bake it breast side up, but the breast is the driest meat, so if you bake it breast side down all the juices go to that area and you get really yummy, not dry white meat!  It's brilliant :)

Cover with foil and place on a large baking sheet (you can't lift those foil roasting pans on their own, you will end up with turkey all over your kitchen :))  Bake at 350 degrees for 6-7 hours, depending on the size of your turkey (mine was a 13 pounder so 6 hours was plenty). 

During the last hour remove the foil.

All done!  I seriously wish you could somehow click a link on the computer and you could smell this turkey, oh, it smells divine!  This turkey came with a nice little thermometer thing that popped up when it was done.  If yours doesn't come with that just use a regular meat thermometer.  The meat needs to be 180 degrees and the stuffing inside 165 degrees.

Remove the turkey from the pan (I used a big spatula because the turkey was so tender that if I used a fork it would just fall apart :), that's a good problem to have).

For the gravy pour the juices from the roasting pan into a measuring cup

Give it a minute and the fat and turkey stock will separate.  Remove the fat from the top

Pour the turkey stock into a pot.

You want your liquid to measure 2 1/2 cups so if you don't have enough stock just add some water.   I saved the water from my mashed potatoes and used that.  Bring this to a boil.

Add 2 tablespoons of corn starch to 1/2 cup of water (again I used the water from my mashed potatoes)

And stir until the cornstarch is dissolved

Add to the stock...

and whisk until all combined. 

Then add 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning...

1/2 teaspoon salt...

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper...

and 1/4 teaspoon celery salt

Stir it all together and simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes or until it thickens. 

Cut the thread on the turkey to get to the stuffing

Oh look at that delicious stuffing!!!  Just scoop out the stuffing and put in a bowl.  Cover the bowl with foil until you are ready to eat.

Carve up the turkey.  I'm not really a great carver, my father-in-law usually does it for me. :)  But you just need to get pieces of meat off the turkey and onto a plate :)

When the gravy is nice and thickened pour it into a gravy boat.

We are all ready for our turkey dinner!  We had talked about inviting someone over to enjoy it with us, but the day I made it was the only night that week that both Steve and I would be home so we decided to enjoy it with just our little family.  Plus Turkey dinner is Steve's favorite meal, so he was okay with not sharing it :).

All ready to eat (although sadly all he would eat was the mashed potatoes :).  But David and Jonathan enjoyed the turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes)

That is one good-looking plate!  I can't wait for Thanksgiving to have it all over again!
Turkey & Stuffing (this amount of stuffing will stuff a 20+ pound turkey)
Turkey, thawed
1/2 pound bacon (I use pre-cooked)
1 pound sausage (I use pre-cooked turkey sausage)
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onion
3 boxes Stove Top Stuffing
1 1/2 cup herb stuffing
6 cups milk
If using uncooked bacon and sausage, cook those and drain.  Cook the celery and onions in a little olive oil.  Then add butter, bacon and sausage and mix until the butter is melted.  Add the boxes of stuffing and the herb stuffing, mix until all combined.  Bring milk to a boil, add to the stuffing mixture and stir until all combined.  If the stuffing looks dry, add some cold milk, if it looks too moist add some herb stuffing.  If not stuffing the turkey right away, cool in 9x13 pans.  Stuff the turkey and sew shut.  Rub entire turkey down with butter.  Place the turkey breast side down in a roasting pan.  Cover with foil.  Cook at 350 degrees for 6-7 hours depending on the size.  During the last hour remove the foil. 
2 1/2 cups turkey stock
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp celery salt
Bring the turkey stock to a boil.  In a small bowl dissolve the flour in water.  Add to stock and whisk.  Season with poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, and celery salt.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until thickened.

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