As the holiday season falls upon us, thoughts in a young Lego Chef's mind wander towards festive traditions. Enjoying the daily dose of chocolate from the Advent Calendar. Waking up at 5am to see what Santa brought. A kiss under the mistletoe. Of course, the most festive of all holiday traditions is cooking!
Today we'll be cooking a turkey with trimmings. Lego Chef does not recommend nor endorse laying these trimmings on your Christmas tree though, although the dogs may like it.
- One whole turkey (~10-15 lbs)
- 1-2 onions
- 2-3 stalks of celery
- 2-3 carrots
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- Thyme, Rosemary, Savory, Salt, Pepper
- ~2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (as needed)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/2 pound link sausage
- 3-4 cups white bread
- Turkey trimmings (more on this later!)
- Cooking sheet
- Cooling rack
- Wooden spoons
Time: 30 minutes to prep. 1 hour initial roast. 2-3 hours additional cook time (depending on weight). 30 minutes sitting. 15 minutes final roast. Roughly 4 and a half hours total.
1. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, crank the oven up to a bit more than half of the surface temperature of the planet Venus - or 275 F.
Now we'll want to get chopping up everything you'll need to make your house smell tasty. That would mean the vegetables - a.k.a the "good for you things". Celery, carrots, onion, and garlic all need to be chopped.
Once the vegetables are all chopped, you'll want to place them in an edged cookie sheet and place a cooling rack on top of them. The rack will be resting on the vegetables. Sprinkle your thyme, and rosemary and all the other parts of that song onto the vegetables. Pour your cup of broth into the pan as well so your vegetables have a nice bath. Don't take a swim in there though - it's about to get really toasty!
2. Alrighty, now it's time to prep the turkey. Lego Chef, in addition to speaking in third person, always recommends brining the turkey for at least a day in advance. It will not only leave you with a downright tasty and juicy turkey, it will make you seem all that more impressive to your friends!
Prep the turkey by hacking off the legs and wings. Why are we doing this? It'll end up making everything cook a bit quicker and saves you the hassle with carving at the table. Plus, we all know at least one soul who likes to carry around the turkey leg like a viking! Hooray for vikings!
Coat the turkey in melted butter (three - four tablespoons) and arrange it so that it all fits nicely on the tray (set it breast side down). Don't forget to tear out that little automatic timer if one is in there - it'll go off way long after your turkey is done.
3. Set the timer for an hour!
Once the hour is up, you'll want to flip the turkey bits over. Watch out - at 275 for an hour, those bits are hot. It will start looking like a pale cooked turkey at this point. After the bits have been flipped over, place it back in the oven and start the waiting game. 160 is the magic temperature for the thickest part of the breast - 170 for the thighs. This comes out to somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-3 hours, but for heavier turkeys, the time will go up.
4. When the turkey temperature is good, go ahead and remove the turkey from the oven. We'll need to get at the pan with the vegetables and the drippings, so you'll need to transfer the turkey to a second cookie sheet. It needs to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Strain the vegetables through a colander into a bowl (you want to save the juice - that's the gravy base). Keep the vegetables though, we want those for the stuffing in step 5.
5. After the vegetables are drained, set them aside while we cook the sausage (if you use precooked sausage, it's a quick operation) and cube your bread.
Once the sausage is cooked, mix in the bread and the vegetables. If you are a lucky soul who won the giblets with their turkey, you can dice those and cook them with the sausage if you'd like. The bread may dry out the rest of the stuffing too much. If this is the case, feel free to add a bit of the gravy base to even things out.
6. While your stuffing is cooking, take the gravy base from the drained vegetables and place it into a measuring cup. Ultimately we want around three cups of liquid here, so add chicken or vegetable broth as needed.
To make the gravy, start with your three tablespoons of butter, melting it over medium heat. When it's done foaming (it's not rabid, it's okay), whisk in the flour, stirring until it's light brown. This usually takes somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 minutes. Continuing to whisk (because let's face it, whisking is fun), pour in the gravy base we made a paragraph ago and toss in your bay leaves. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer, continuing to stir every so often. We're looking to reduce this down to about 2 cups and thick. Typically that takes 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste. Congratulations - you have just made gravy.
7. Cranking the oven up to 500 degrees, place the resting turkey bits back in the oven. You're looking for a tasty crisp at this point, which in technical terms means 10-15 minutes. Once it's crisp, remove and let rest another 20 minutes. Feast!