Preparing a turkey doesn't have to be complicated. This step-by-step recipe helps reduce the stress of preparation. The turkey browns beautifully in the roasting bag and needs no basting. A good and easy recipe for the beginning cook or any cook. This recipe was originally written for the benefit of my own young-adult children to guarantee their success at preparing their first big bird!
Holiday Turkey with Stuffing and Gravy
2 (6-ounce) packages stuffing mix, any style
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional
1/2 cup chopped dried fruits (dates, raisins, apricots, etc.), optional
1 cup melted butter
1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, fruit juice or water
1 (14-pound) turkey
1 tablespoon Kosher or coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 large-sized oven roasting bag (for turkeys)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 stalks celery, washed, bottoms trimmed
1 medium onion, peeled and halved
2 carrots, pared and cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cup butter, melted
The Gravy (recipe follows)
To prepare stuffing, combine the stuffing mix with the onion, celery, nuts and fruits. Add the melted butter and toss to coat. Gradually stir in the chicken broth, blending lightly. The texture of the stuffing may be varied by using more liquid for moister stuffing, and less liquid for drier. Be careful not to add too much liquid or it will become heavy and soggy.
Preheat oven to 350*F (175*C). (Or, if not using an oven bag, 325*F - 160*C.)
To prepare turkey, remove the drumsticks from their plastic holder (if it came with one), reserving it to be used later. Remove giblets and neck from cavity of the turkey and discard or use as you wish. (See notes.) Rinse the turkey thoroughly inside and out, making sure to remove any feathers and quill tips left in the skin. Thoroughly pat dry, inside and out.
Combine the salt, pepper and garlic powder in a cup or small bowl and sprinkle the the turkey inside and out.
Spoon about 6 to 7 cups prepared stuffing into the bird, being careful not to pack it in too tightly. The stuffing expands while it cooks, and will need room to do so. (Place any remaining stuffing in a greased 1 1/2-quart baking dish; cover and refrigerate.) Skewer openings; tie drumsticks together with kitchen string or unwaxed floss (or place the drumsticks back into the plastic holder).
Place 1 tablespoon of flour into the oven bag and shake to thoroughly coat the inside of bag with flour. Allow excess flour to remain in bag. Place the bag into a large roasting pan. (If you use a disposable aluminum pan, be sure to use a large baking sheet for additional support.) Place the prepared vegetables in the bag to form a bed for the turkey to be placed on.
Place the stuffed turkey into the prepared roasting bag on top of the bed of vegetables. It will probably help to have an extra pair of hands here...call for assistance! Drizzle the melted butter over the top of the turkey, distributing evenly. Seal the oven bag with the specially provided bag-tie. Carefully make several slits in the top of the bag to vent and allow hot air to escape. Insert a meat thermometer (some birds come with a pop-up device that is not always accurate) through the bag into the meatiest part of the thigh area, being careful not to allow the thermometer to touch bone. (You may get a false reading if you do.)
Roast turkey until meat thermometer reads 180*F (80*C), about 2 1/2 to 3 hours for a 12 to 14-pound turkey. Reduce the cooking time by a 1/2 hour if the turkey is not stuffed. No basting is required using the roasting bag. (Bake reserved stuffing, covered, for 30 minutes; uncover and bake 10 minutes more.)
When done, remove turkey from oven. With assistance, carefully drain the juices into a very large measuring device or bowl