Just a few days before Thanksgiving, we couldn't believe our eyes as these walked through our yard...
I know everyone has their favorite dressing or stuffing. Some make it separately and others, like me, place it inside the bird, stuffing both the body cavity and the neck cavity.
The picture above shows the neck cavity on the right. There is a large flap of skin that covers the neck cavity. I place the bird upside-down and fill this area, securing the skin over the dressing with metal poultry lacers.
New cooks might be afraid to put the stuffing in the cavity of the bird because it does takes longer to cook the turkey, and also, because of the warnings about stuffing not being cooked through or possible food poisoning if left inside the bird. Just be sure to remove the stuffing as soon as possible and cook the turkey for the recommended time. Do not pull the turkey out of the oven to baste it too often as you will cool down the oven and prolong the roasting time. Also, you can use an instant-read meat thermometer to test if the bird is cooked. Plan ahead. If your turkey is done a little early, it can always be reheated in the oven after the stuffing is removed. The 'Norman Rockwell' moment is highly overrated :) If I'm having a large group for Thanksgiving, I have even prepared the turkey the day before, carve it and place it in a covered pyrex serving dish overnight and reheat in the oven, covered with foil, adding a half cup of turkey stock to keep it moist.
Two more of my family's traditional recipes that wouldn't be Thanksgiving without are my Brussels Sprout Souffle and my Cranberry and Dried Cherry Relish.
My Mother's Turkey StuffingPrintable Recipe
My mother made this stuffing for as long as I can remember and was given to her by a Danish relative. Every Thanksgiving, when I taste her stuffing, I think of her and all of the wonderful Thanksgivings we had together and those that my family will share in the future. From Danish origins, the recipe originally included ground pork. This makes enough to stuff a 15-20 pound turkey. If your turkey is smaller, you can bake the rest of the stuffing in covered casserole dish.
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 large apple, unpeeled, and quartered
4 stalks celery, cut into 2" pieces
6-8 cups of dried bread cubes (I use 1-1/2 bags of Sage and Onion Seasoned Croutons)
1/2 pound lean ground beef (I use ground sirloin)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons dried sage
2 large eggs
1/2 cup water
In a food processor or by hand, coarsely chop onion, apple and celery. In a very large mixing bowl, add croutons and chopped onion, apple and celery. Add the ground beef and seasonings and mix well by hand until ground beef is well incorporated. In a small bowl, whisk eggs and water. Add to crouton mixture and mix again until everything is well moistened with egg and water.
Turn the turkey on its breast and loosely stuff the the neck cavity, pulling the neck skin over the stuffing and fasten the skin to the back of the bird with skewers or extra-large safety pins (being careful to remove them after the turkey is done!). Turn the turkey on its back and loosely stuff the main cavity. (If you have more stuffing than will fit inside the turkey, place the excess in an ovenproof dish, cover with giblets, neck or other excess turkey parts, cover with foil and roast seperately for one hour).
Roast the turkey for the required amount of time depending on the size of the bird. A 14 pound stuffed bird takes approximately 4 to 4-1/2 hours in a 350 degree oven.
Note - remove stuffing from turkey immediately after roasting to prevent possible bacteria formation.