On a personal note, Thanksgiving was absolutely wonderful and our family was blessed with multiple celebrations spanning a week. The last Thanksgiving dinner was the one on Friday that we hosted for my family. I was in charge of the turkey, dressing, and gravy and all 3 turned out so well that I have to share, both for you (dear reader) but also so I have it recorded somewhere for next year!
Succulent and moist, I marinated the bird overnight, cooked in the oven for 2.5 hours and then finished in the smoker.
We had a 15-pound bird this year so adjust accordingly for your size.
- Put the turkey in the fridge 3 days before the dinner.
- The evening before, make the brine. To make the brine:
- 3/4 cup salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 gallon vegetable stock
- 1 T black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 t allspice
- 1 1/2 ginger
- 1 gallon iced water
- Combine everything except for the iced water into a pot and bring to a boil. Cool to room temperature.
- Put iced water into a 5-gallon bucket or pot. Pour brine into bucket and then place bird in, breast down. Let it marinate overnight.
- Next morning, remove the neck and innards. Put those to the side – we’ll need those for the gravy.
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
- Slice half an apple and put 2/3 in the main cavity. Put the rest in the rear cavity. Fill the rest of both cavities with stuffing (later in this post).
- Put turkey in roasting pan and coat liberally with olive oil.
- Cook at 500 degrees for 30 minutes and then 350 degrees for 2 hours.
- Baste turkey every 30-45 minutes with drippings/oil from turkey.
- After turkey has cooked, removed from oven and put in smoker for an hour. Baste turkey one last time.
- I use a Traeger wood-pellet grill for this. After an hour smoking, I set the heat to high for 20 minutes to warm the whole bird back up. You could also do this in the oven.
- Let the turkey cool for 10-15 minutes, cut & serve!
As a general rule, everything’s better with bacon and my stuffing was not the exception!
- You’ll need the following:
- 1/2 – 3/4 lbs of chicken apple sausage, cooked and chopped (breakfast sausage would work too)
- 1/2 – 3/4 lbs of bacon, cooked and chopped
- 3/4 c butter, melted
- 3/4 c finely diced onion
- 1 1/2 c chopped celery
- 8 c soft bread cubes (I did 4 cups of garlic artisan bread and 4 cups of whole wheat bread)
- 1 T poultry seasoning
- 1/2 t ground black pepper
- Cook sausage and bacon. Drain and save drippings.
- Add butter to sausage/bacon drippings until you have 1 cup total.
- Cook and stir onion and celery into butter-drippings mixture in same skillet until onion is tender.
- Stir in about 1/3 of the bread cubes.
- Pour onion mixture into large bowl and stir in remaining bread cubes, meat, poultry seasoning, and pepper.
- Mix by hand and stuff turkey with as much as you can. Put rest in casserole dish and cook for 20 minutes at 350 right before turkey is served.
You can’t let the turkey drippings go to waste, not when you can use them for the gravy.
- Put the neck and giblets that you removed from the turkey into a sauce pan.
- Add 16oz of mushroom or vegetable stock (I prefer mushroom)
- Cook for 2 to 2.5 hours at med-low (as turkey is in oven)
- Remove giblets and neck from mixture and strain liquid into new saucepan.
- Set aside until after the turkey has smoked.
- Pour dripping from bottom of turkey pan and strain into liquid.
- Add 1 t ground pepper
- Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of flour and stir/whip until right consistency
Ok, time to enjoy some leftovers!