I don't know about you, but I am very excited about Thanksgiving! This week I'm pulling out all the stops to help you create the perfect traditional Thanksgiving. When planning a large scale meal always start by finding a recipe for the main dish. In this case it is the turkey. While you could go crazy with brines, glazes, and rubs, keep the turkey simple and season it with a generous herb butter spread. A classic bread, bacon, and leek stuffing is delicious cooked inside or alongside the bird. Take a peek at these recipes and stay tuned for the rest of the meal — just
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 pounds turkey necks and/or wings
2 cups diced onions
1 cup diced peeled carrots
1 cup diced celery
6 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature, divided
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme plus 15 fresh thyme sprigs
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon plus 5 large fresh tarragon sprigs
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary plus 5 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage plus 5 fresh sage sprigs
1 14- to 16-pound turkey
4 cups low-salt chicken broth, divided
1/4 cup all purpose flour
- For gravy base: melt butter in heavy large deep skillet over high heat. Add turkey necks and/or wings and sauté until deep brown, about 15 minutes.
- Add onions, carrots, and celery and sauté until vegetables are deep brown, about 15 minutes.
- Add 6 cups chicken broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour gravy base through strainer set over 4-cup measuring cup, pressing on solids to extract liquid. If necessary, add enough chicken broth to gravy base to measure 4 cups. (Gravy base can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before using.)
- For turkey: mix 1/2 cup butter and all minced herbs in small bowl; season herb butter with salt and pepper. Transfer 2 generous tablespoons to another small bowl and reserve for gravy; let stand at room temperature.
- Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 425°F.
- Rinse turkey inside and out; pat dry. Starting at neck end, slide hand between skin and breast meat to loosen skin. Rub 4 tablespoons herb butter over breast meat under skin. Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Sprinkle main cavity generously with salt and pepper. Place 4 tablespoons plain butter and all fresh herb sprigs in main cavity. Tuck wing tips under. Tie legs together loosely. Rub remaining herb butter over outside of turkey. Sprinkle turkey generously with salt and pepper.
- Place turkey in oven and roast 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
- Roast turkey 30 minutes; pour 1 cup broth over and add 1 tablespoon plain butter to roasting pan.
- Roast turkey 30 minutes; baste with pan juices, then pour 1 cup broth over and add 1 tablespoon butter to pan. Cover turkey loosely with foil.
- Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, basting with pan juices and adding 1 cup broth and 1 tablespoon butter to pan every 45 minutes, about 1 hour 45 minutes longer. Transfer turkey to platter; let stand 30 minutes (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees).
- Strain pan juices into bowl; whisk in gravy base.
- Melt reserved 2 tablespoons herb butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat; add flour and whisk constantly until roux is golden brown, about 6 minutes.
- Gradually add pan juice-gravy base mixture; increase heat and whisk constantly until gravy thickens, boils, and is smooth.
- Reduce heat to medium; boil gently until gravy is reduced to 4 1/2 cups, whisking often, about 10 minutes. Season gravy with salt and pepper.
1-lb. loaf rustic country bread, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 thick-cut bacon slices, about 8 oz. total, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 leeks, white portion only, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and rinsed well
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup turkey or chicken stock, plus more as needed
1 cup milk
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 cup chopped green onions, green portion only
- Preheat an oven to 375ºF. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish.
- Spread the bread out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.
- In a large fry pan over medium heat, fry the bacon, stirring occasionally, until crispy and golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
- In another large fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks, carrots and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, combine the bread, bacon, the leek mixture, the 1 cup stock, milk, thyme, green onions, salt and pepper and stir gently to mix. If the dressing seems dry, add more stock as needed.
- Transfer the dressing to the prepared baking dish and bake until crispy and golden, about 1 hour. If desired, you can pack the dressing loosely in the body and neck cavities of the turkey. Secure the neck flap with kitchen string or pin it to the back with toothpicks or trussing pins. Tying the legs together will help hold the stuffing in the body cavity. For turkeys weighing 16 lb. or less, add 30 minutes to the total roasting time. For turkeys weighing more than 16 lb., add 1 hour to the total roasting time.
Serves 10 to 12.