Whether or not to stuff the Thanksgiving turkey all depends on preference. Personally I love the taste of stuffing that has been inside the bird, however, I never stuff my turkey. My reason for not placing the stuffing inside the turkey is because the stuffing that I make is mostly bread. The bread soaks up all the juices from the turkey leaving me with dry meat and fabulous tasting stuffing. But I'm picky and I would like moist meat and fabulous tasting stuffing! So how can I have it both ways?
Here's my secret (that's not really secret because I would tell anyone who asks). I stuff my turkey with oranges, onions and fresh herbs (usually sage, thyme and rosemary). The steam from these keeps my turkey meat moist and juicy. I usually make the stuffing the day before using boxed stock and a beaten egg to help moisten it (but not too much). However, here's the trick to great stuffing. Once your turkey has been roasting for a while, use a turkey baster to pour some of the pan drippings onto your stuffing. The stuffing now tastes like it's been in the bird but it hasn't taken all the flavour from the meat!
Above is the before photo of my Thanksgiving turkey. This is what I did.
Quarter 2 onions and 2 oranges and place them into the cavity along with some some fresh herbs (sage, thyme and rosemary). Place a few pieces of orange, onion and herb into the extra skin at the neck too. Combine 1/2 pound of softened butter with chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme and sage), salt and pepper. Using the handle of a wooden spoon create a pocket between the skin and the breast meat. Place 1/3 of the butter mixture into the pocket and smear it between the skin and the white meat. Repeat this for the other side of the breast. This will baste the bird as it cooks. Smear the remaining butter over the outside of the bird. Drizzle with olive oil and a little more salt and pepper.
Place some largely chopped celery, onions and carrots in the bottom of the roasting pan. Add a few unpeeled cloves of garlic, the giblets and the neck and any bits of herbs leftover including the stems from the rosemary. Pour a couple of cups of white wine into the bottom of the pan (or just use water). Place turkey on top and roast at 350 for 15 minutes per pound. Don't let the bottom of the pan get dry. Add more water if needed.
While your turkey is resting on the cutting board, place the roasting pan on a burner and add some more water (or wine) to make gravy. Use a potato masher to mash up all the vegetables in the bottom of the pan to get more flavour out of them. Thicken the gravy with a couple of heaping tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup of cold water. When gravy is thicken, pour it through a sieve to strain out the vegetables. Salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes I strain the gravy into another pot before I thicken it. Whatever works for you. By the way, you could add a tablespoon or two of cranberry sauce to your gravy while it boils. It give your gravy that extra little something that will make your guests go hmmmm.
Here's how my turkey looked when it was done.
Now for my recipe for crumble topping for pies and crisps. This is the fastest crumble topping you will ever make!
1/4 of melted butter
Add in 6 packages of Maple and Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal (or Apple and Cinnamon)
That's it! I spread it over chopped apples to make apple crisp.
And this is what it looks like after it's baked.
Now if even that easy recipe seems like it's too much to handle for Thanksgiving dinner (or any holiday dinner for that matter) then try doing what these ladies did.
It doesn't get easier than that!