It’s turkey time! I love this time of year. Not only is it a great time to give thanks, but it’s also a great time to bring family and friends together for some great food. Over the next couple of days I’ll share some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. First up - the turkey!
When hosting a big Thanksgiving gathering we like to deep fry two turkeys. Not only is the turkey delicious, but it cooks fast and frees up the kitchen for all the other fixings. When hosting a smaller group, I like to make this recipe adapted from Tyler Florence's recipe - Maple-Roasted Turkey with Sage, Bacon and Cornbread Stuffing.
When I first made this recipe, I wasn’t sure what I would think about the maple syrup basting, but I have to admit that I LOVED it. Actually, I love everything about this recipe. The sage butter is so amazing that I’ve made extra batches to use in other recipes. And while my mother’s stuffing will always be my favorite, this cornbread dressing is delicious. And, let’s not forget the bacon. The turkey is covered with bacon and it seems to hold in all the juiciness.
I’ve used fresh and frozen turkeys with this before, and to be honest, they’ve all been good. Never dry. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Maple-Roasted Turkey with Sage, Bacon and Cornbread Stuffing
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ bunch of fresh sage, leaves finely chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 1 loaf of cornbread, cubed (about 6 cups)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 (12-14 pound) fresh turkey
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- ½ cup hot water
- 8 strips bacon
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ lemon, juiced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and remove the top rack.
Combine the butter and sage in a mixing bowl, mash with a fork or spoon until the sage is well incorporated and the butter has flecks of green in it (or combine in a food processor to speed this part up). Season with salt and pepper.
In a saute pan, melt 4 tablespoons of the sage butter, add the onions, cook and stir for 15 minutes until soft and golden. Remove from heat. Put the cornbread in a large mixing bowl and scrape the sauteed onion mixture on top. Add the egg, heavy cream, and just enough check stock to moisten the stuffing without making it soggy (about ½ cup.) Toss well to combine, season with salt and pepper.
Remove the neck and gizzards from the inside of the turkey and discard. (Don’t forget to check the flap by the neck.) Rinse the bird thoroughly inside and out with cold water, pat dry. Sprinkle the cavity and skin liberally with salt and pepper. Using your fingers, gently lift the skin from the breast and legs, and slip pieces of the sage butter underneath; massaging it as you go. Fill the bird with the cornbread stuffing without packing too tightly. (Cook any remaining stuffing separately in a buttered baking dish.) Truss the turkey; place it on a rack in a large roasting pan, and put into oven.
Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and hot water to thin the glaze out a bit; use this to baste the turkey every 30 minutes.
The turkey should take about 3 hours to cook (i.e. 15 to 20 minutes per pound.) If the legs or breast brown too quickly, cover with foil.
About 2 hours into cooking, basket weave the stips of bacon over the turkey breast and legs to cover. Continue to roast and baste for another hour or so.
The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of the thigh registers 170 degrees F (the thigh juices will also run clear when pricked with a knife.) Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes before carving, so the juices can settle back into the meat.
Skim off the excess fat from the pan drippings with a spoon and place the roasting pan over 2 burners set on medium-high heat. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up brown bits stuck to bottom of pan. Whisk the flour into the drippings, stirring as it thickens to prevent lumps. Add the remaining chicken stock and bring to a simmer; season with salt and pepper and hit it with a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavor. Simmer for 5 minutes and then strain to remove any particles. Serve the gravy with maple-roasted turkey and cornbread stuffing.
Serves about 12. Total time about 4-½ hours (20 min prep, 3 hr and 25 min cooking, 20 min rest.)
Adapted from Tyler Florence’s recipe.