May 30-June 1 Roast Turkey, what else?

May 30     Roast Turkey Dinner with  Flourless Chocolate Cake
May 31     Pasta salad with feta, fresh basil and leftover turkey
June 1       Dinner with the neighbours

I promised Shack I would roast a turkey before the summer hit.  We had planned to do it outdoors on the neighbour's BBQ on Sunday but that didn't happen for various reasons. That means that on Monday, the first really hot day of the season, I spent the afternoon indoors roasting a stuffed turkey. That is love, people. Since I knew the oven would be on for a few hours I also decided to get really crazy and bake a flourless chocolate cake while I was at it. I mean, if I am going to get all sweaty and suffer hot flashes all afternoon, there might as well be some chocolate involved, right?

Roast Turkey with Stuffing

1 loaf of Portuguese corn bread
1 vidalia onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup butter
about 1/4 cup chicken stock
handful of fresh sage, rosemary, thyme, savoury and italian parsley, all coarsely chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut your bread into 1" cube and let it sit out and get stale overnight if possible. If you can't do that, dry them out in a 350F oven until they just start getting a bit crispy - don't brown. Put into a large bowl.
Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and add the onion, garlic and celery. Sauté until just soft and the pour over the bread cubes and quickly toss to coat. Scatter all of your fresh herbs, some salt and pepper and toss again. If it seems dry add a bit of chicken stock until if feels moistened but not wet. Check your seasonings and adjust to taste. You can also add a handful of toasted nuts, some dried fruit like cranberry at this point. I also usually crispy up some pancetta and add that as well but I didn't do that this time.
Set aside to cool completely.

1 14 lb turkey
a few tbls butter and more fresh herbs to push under the skin
giblets, neck, a stalk of celery, a chunk of onion, some garlic and any other veggie scraps

Preheat the oven to 450F

Rinse out your turkey and dry it off, making sure that you have removed the giblets and any other special surprises that might be lurking in the cavity of your turkey.
Place a rack in a shallow roasting pan - no more than 2" deep so that your turkey roasts and doesn't steam.
I like to loosen the skin of the breast and rub in a couple of tablespoons of room temperature butter under it, between the skin and the flesh. Then I jam some fresh herbs in there as well for good measure. You don't have to do that but I like my turkey nice and buttery.

Lightly stuff the cavity with your stuffing right before you are going to put it in the oven - you don't want a raw turkey sitting around at room temperature once it's stuffed.
Put the turkey on the rack in the roasting pan and put it in the oven - for this size I put the rack one up from the bottom.
Roast at 450F for 30 minutes - the turkey should start to get brown during this time. Turn the heat down to 350, cover  the turkey loosely with a piece of foil (a tent, not tucked in or anything) and continue to roast for about another 2 to 2 1/2 hrs, basting every 30 minutes or so. It's done when a thermometer inserted deep into thigh reads about 175F

Meanwhile, after you put your turkey in the oven, put the neck, giblets, onion, celery, garlic and any veggie scraps you have in a sauce pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and turn down the heat, letting it simmer lightly for about an hour or so. Set aside until the turkey is done and then strain out the solids and use the remaining liquid for your gravy.

Remove the turkey to a cutting board or platter and let it rest for about 30 minutes while you make the gravy.

Pour the juices from the pan into a large measuring cup or bowl and set aside for a minute.  Put the roasting pan on two burners on medium heat and pour in about a cup of white wine or half white wine, half port and deglaze the pan, scraping up any good bits that are stuck to the bottom. Let the liquid simmer and reduce by at least half. Pour that off into the same container where you have put your strained turkey stock.
Then, melt a couple of tbls of butter OR skim off a couple of tbls of fat off the top of the drippings and mix in a couple of tbls of flour and make a roux. When that has cooked off a bit, start to slow add the drippings ( make sure to skim off most of the fat off the top first of course) and the turkey stock and whisk until it's all mixed together and there are no lumps. Let this come to a light simmer for about five or ten minutes.