Basics of Turkey Gravy

The night before Thanksgiving is the best time to make the stock for your gravy.  The stock is your secret weapon for making fabulous gravy.  If you make the stock, you won’t have to resort to flavor-additives or thickening agents… just simple, homemade gravy.  If you don’t have time to make stock be sure to buy frozen freshly made stock that most grocery stores make available around Turkey day.

Make the gravy right after the turkey comes out of the oven.  In the time it takes for the bird to rest before it’s presented to the table, you can make the gravy and get everyone to the table.  Be organized and prepared — keep all of your gravy-making ingredients and equipment together in one place so it’s ready when you are.

*Be sure to hit the blue links to see the helpful videos we’ve made to guide you through the recipe.  As always, subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Turkey Gravy

Makes approximately 3 cups

Turkey Stock:

1 package turkey giblets (minus the liver)

1 turkey neck

1 turkey tail (the pope’s nose)

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

3 cups water

Gravy:

1 tablespoon roasting pan fat

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup turkey drippings, skimmed of fat

To make the stock:  Rinse the giblets, neck and tail under cold running water and place in a medium-sized saucepan.  Add the onion, celery, carrots, bay leaf and peppercorns.  Pour enough water to cover the giblets and vegetables by 2-inches.

Bring the saucepan to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer, simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.  If any foam develops on the surface, carefully skim it off as stock simmers.

Turn the heat off and allow stock to cool until pot is cool enough to strain.  Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve into a clean container.  Discard the giblets and vegetables.  Cover stock and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the gravy:   Immediately after you take the turkey out of the oven, move the turkey to a carving board to rest and pour all of the juices from the roasting pan into a fat separator.

Return roasting pan to the stove and place it over two burners.  On medium-low heat, add a tablespoon of the fat from the fat separator and butter to the pan and let the butter melt.  Add the flour and whisk the flour and butter together into a thick paste.  Keep whisking until the butter and flour mixture (roux) smells nutty, up to three minutes.

Quickly, but carefully pour the cold stock into the roasting pan, a little at a time, and whisk to blend the stock and roux together – do not worry too much if you have lumps at first.  Bring the heat up to medium-high and keep whisking until it begins to boil.  The gravy should thicken as it boils.  Turn off the heat and taste.  If the gravy needs salt, whisk in the turkey pan juices one tablespoon at a time.

Strain the gravy into a gravy boat and serve hot.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Bird is the Word — How to Cure and Roast Thanksgiving Turkey

Dear Martini exists to make cooking easier and more pleasurable for all.  If it’s your first time in the kitchen, we’re here to guide you through your recipes by offering simple cooking techniques whenever you need them.

Our mission couldn’t be more true than for the Thanksgiving Holiday.  If you’ve ever been gripped with fear over preparing the Thanksgiving Turkey, herein lies your salvation.  The turkey is cured for a couple of days before roasting — that is, it’s been rubbed with salt and left to sit in its own salty juices to season and tenderize.  The night before you roast, you’ll take it out of the salt juices and allow the bird to dry overnight in the fridge.  This process makes the skin tight and dry — which will reward you later with the tastiest, crispiest skin you’ve ever had!

This simple recipe, if followed to the letter, is a foolproof, confidence-booster.  Once you make this turkey for your friends and family, you will be requested to make the turkey for the next 100 years!

Please take note:  it’s a four-day process from curing to roasting, which does not include time for defrosting if the bird is purchased frozen.  Most frozen birds take 2-3 days to thaw in the fridge.  Make sure you factor the thawing time in with your preparations.  In our experience, a fresh bird is the better way to go — but only if your budget allows.

This four-day process can be broken down into three phases:

1)  Cleaning the Bird

2)  Curing the Bird

3) Roasting the Bird

*Be sure to hit the blue links to see the helpful videos we’ve made to guide you through the recipe.  As always,  subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Roast Turkey 

Serves 8 to 10

1 (14-16 pound) turkey, defrosted
1 cup kosher salt
2 lemons
8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
4 sprigs rosemary or thyme
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Special Equipment:
Cotton kitchen twine
Large brining bag

***This is a four-day process.***

Monday:
Remove the turkey from its wrappings and rinse under cold running water.  Remove the giblets bag and set aside for making stock later.  Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.

Rub kosher salt all over the surface of the turkey.  Place the salt-rubbed turkey into a large brining bag.  Move the turkey onto a large tray or platter and refrigerate for the next three days.

Tuesday:
Turn the turkey over so the salt and juices redistribute.  Keep the turkey refrigerated.

Wednesday morning:
Flip the turkey back to right-side up so the salt and juices redistribute again.

Wednesday, early evening:
Remove the turkey from its brining bag.  Use as many clean, dry paper towels as you can manage to clean the turkey by wiping the surface clean of any salt or juices.

Use a fork to prick holes all over the surface of the lemons.  Stuff the lemons, garlic and herbs into the cavity of the turkey.  Tie the turkey’s legs together with cotton kitchen twine.

Place turkey breast-side up on top of a roasting rack that has been set into a roasting pan.  Place the turkey in the fridge and keep over night, uncovered.  This will allow the skin to dry out and tighten, which will produce a crispy skin when roasted.

Thanksgiving Day:
Move your oven rack to the lowest position without being too close to the heating element.  Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Remove the turkey from the fridge.  Keep the turkey on the counter for about an hour to bring it up to room temperature.   Take a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil and shape it to the top of the turkey, as if to cover the turkey breast and the roasting pan.  Remove the foil and set aside for later use.

When ready to roast, rub or brush the surface of the skin with canola oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.

Roast at 425°F for 30 minutes, or until the skin of the turkey is golden brown.  Rotate the turkey 180° and lower the oven temperature to 350° and continue roasting until the internal temperature of the bird registers 165°F.  Remember to insert the thermometer into the thickest place of the bird, either into the meatiest area of the breast (165°F) or into the thickest part of the thigh (170°).  A 14-16 pound turkey should take between 2-3 hours to roast.

Turkey Weight

Oven Temp

Internal Breast Temp

Internal Thigh Temp

Approx.

Cooking Time

10 – 13 lbs.

350°F

165°F

170°F

1 ½  to 2 ¼ hours

14 – 20 lbs.

325°F

165°F

170°F

2 to 3 hours

21 – 25 lbs.

325°F

165°F

170°F

3 to 3 ¾ hours

26 – 30 lbs.

325°F

165°F

170°F

3 ½ to 4 ½ hours

During roasting, if the bird is browning too quickly, use the aluminum foil shield to cover the bird.  Remove the foil during the last 20 minutes of roasting to crisp the skin.

Carefully remove the bird to a large carving board with a well and tent with foil.  Immediately begin making the turkey gravy, using the roasting pan.  Allow the bird to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I say Stuffing… and you say Dressing

And so the perpetual battle rages on:  Stuffing vs. Dressing.  Which is it?  The customary side dish to the Thanksgiving Turkey really can be either; depending from where you hail.  Most folks from the Northern states call it stuffing.  The Southern states call it dressing.  And those in the Midwest and Western states pretty much just go along with what it was traditionally called down through the generations.  But regardless of where you’re from and whichever you call it, the traditional Turkey Sidekick is almost always a savory recipe prepared with seasoned bread croutons or cornbread and mixed with vegetables such as carrots, onions and celery.  Depending on where you are,  nuts, dried fruits and herbs also make an appearance.

So why call it stuffing or dressing?  Who still stuffs the turkey, anyway?   Is it called dressing if it’s not stuffed inside?  Why do we make a dressing and stuff it inside a turkey, which then becomes a stuffing for the turkey?  Can I make a stuffing without stuffing it into the bird?  Or would that be called dressing?  But didn’t you just ask if the dressing BECOMES the stuffing?   WHY IS THIS SO COMPLICATED? 

Relax, people.  Please.

We call it stuffing (but for those of you who want to think of it as dressing, be our guest) and bake it in a dish to serve with the turkey.  We do not serve anything that’s been stuffed inside a turkey.  Stuffing a turkey  with stuffing/dressing increases the turkey’s cooking time — which might lead to over-cooking the bird (have you ever choked on dry breast meat?) or undercooking the center.  Either way, over-cooked turkey or salmonella-laced stuffing/dressing are two avenues we’d rather avoid this holiday.

Try our cornbread stuffing.  Make the cornbread in a jiffy, using the famous blue and white box!  This heart-warming, food-coma-inducing stuffing recipe is a hands-down winner in our recipe box. The toasty fennel seeds add a spicy sweetness that the tart apple and dried cranberries pick up. Make sure to make extras – there are almost no leftovers from just one dish.

*Be sure to hit the blue links to see the helpful videos we’ve made to guide you through the recipe.  As always,  subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Apple, Fennel Seed and Cornbread Stuffing

Serves 6 to 8

1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon unsalted butter for buttering casserole, + 2 tablespoons to saute
2 yellow onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 large Granny Smith apple, diced
6 cups prepared cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries, optional
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
½ cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 small pieces for dotting the casserole

In a small skillet over medium-low heat, toast the fennel seeds until they are warm and fragrant, about three minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter the inside of a 13×9-inch gratin dish with 1 tablespoon butter and set aside.

In a large sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons of butter and sauté the onions over medium heat until translucent, about 7 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, celery, apple and fennel seeds and cook an additional 5 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool.

Toss the vegetable mixture with the cornbread, parsley and cranberries in a large bowl.  Season stuffing with salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasoning to taste as necessary.  Stir in the eggs.  Add as much stock as needed to moisten the stuffing but not make it soggy (you may not need all of the stock).  Place stuffing in prepared gratin dish and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter on the top.  Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until warmed through.  Remove foil and continue baking an additional 5 to 10 minutes until top of stuffing is golden brown.

To Make Stuffing Ahead: Bake cornbread 2 days before Thanksgiving.  Assemble stuffing the day before in the baking dish, then wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking. To bake, remove stuffing from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.  Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until warm through.  Remove foil and continue baking an additional 5 to 10 minutes until top of stuffing is golden brown.


Creative Additions:
Add one or more of the following

1 cup chopped chestnuts,

1 cup chopped pecans,

½ cup roasted garlic cloves,

2 tablespoons chopped sage,

½ pound mushrooms, sliced and sautéed,

½ pound cooked bulk Italian sausage, crumbled

2 tablespoons brandy

Happy Thanksgiving!