Monday, January 28, 2013

Roast Turkey with Apple, Date, and Raisin Stuffing

I know what some of you are thinking. 'Why post a roast turkey recipe now?' Well, I firmly believe that roast turkey should not be relegated to just Thanksgiving and Christmas. Turkey is too good to relegate to once or twice a year. Besides, I had a bird I'd gotten for free taking up space in the freezer, and a potluck with plenty of people to feed.

I am a huge fan of Alton Brown. He convinced me to brine my birds, and I am amazed at the difference that it makes. I base my brine off of of his recipe here. I change up the flavoring agents, though, pretty much every time. This time, I used star anise, juniper berries, black peppercorns, galangal, and cloves. I use a five gallon food safe plastic bucket to brine my bird in.

Of course, here is were Alton and I part company. Alton considers stuffing evil, I consider it the whole point of the exercise. Don't get me wrong, I think that moist, flavorful turkey meat is a wonderful by-product, but for me the star is the stuffing. Dressing (stuffing made outside the bird) never has the correct texture. Stuffing is my number one comfort food. Since this was not thanksgiving, I was free to experiment with the stuffing. So this time I made an apple, date, and raisin stuffing, flavored with celery, onion, celery leaf, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove. I like the giblets (except the liver) and the neck meat in the stuffing. I boil the giblets and the neck in enough water to cover, until done. The resulting stock is what I use to moisten the stuffing.  I was really happy with this stuffing, though it will not replace my sage - mushroom stuffing at Thanksgiving.

This 15 pound bird took about four hours at 325 degrees. I baked it covered for about half the time. I put some dry champagne in the roaster to start the cooking process.


Turkey Brine

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon chicken stock
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
2 tsp. juniper berries
3 star anise
5 whole cloves
2 2 inch pieces dried galangal
1 gallon heavily iced water

Place stock, salt, and spices in stock pot. Bring to a boil, making sure salt is dissolved. Remove from heat, let cool. When cool, place brine, turkey, and ice water in a large pot or food safe bucket. Refrigerate for 8 hours.

 Apple, Date, and Raisin Stuffing

5 cup dried bread cubes
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced onion
cooked meat from the turkey neck, heart, and gizzard, minced
1/3 cup chopped celery leaves
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 apples, peeled. cored. and diced
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped dates
1 tsp.ground  cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
pinch ground cloves
2 cups turkey stock

Sweat onions and celery in the olive oil until tender. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients. Pour stock into mixture a little at a time, until bread cubes are moist but not soggy.

Stuff bird, both main cavity and skin at the neck.

Happy eating!

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