Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Bolek Family Turkey with Apple Sausage Stuffing

Turkey and stuffing represents a combination of the New and Old Worlds.  The explanation begins with the following scene ... Sixteenth Century Spanish explorers or conquistadors traveling through the New World region that would become part of northern Mexico.  As they pass through town after town, the Spaniards notice that the indigenous people have domesticated an odd, aggressive bird that struts around, "gobbling" all the time. The indigenous peoples may have roasted or stewed the turkey meat, but they did not stuff the birds.  When the Spaniards found that turkeys were delicious and decided to bring the birds back to the Old World.

The popularity of turkey spread throughout Western Europe.  It was a change from the swans, herons and peacocks that graced the plates of the wealthy.  European cooks began to prepare turkey incorporating their own cooking styles, creating a myriad of different recipes.  One such cookbook, Martha's Bradley's British Housewife (1758), collected several of those recipes: Roasted Turkey with Onion Sauce, Roasted with Oysters, "Forced the Italian Way" (i.e., stuffed with a sausage-like mixture), the Dutch Way, with Cray-Fish, au Bourgeois, Boiled the Dutch Way, Stewed, in a Pudding in Guts (sausage links), Glazed, and in a Cullis (sauce). Thus, the Old World way of stuffing birds combined with a New World bird most likely gave rise to what is often the centerpiece of holiday meals here in the United States.

This recipe does not come from any old cookbook.  Instead, this Turkey with Apple Sausage Stuffing recipe is my mom's recipe.  She makes this recipe for Thanksgiving, and, every year, she expertly produces an amazing dinner.  The turkey is always juicy and the stuffing is perfectly made.  I wanted to make this dish for a group of our friends who were coming over to our house for the Easter holiday.  I followed the recipe (with a couple of changes, such as the substitution of turkey stock for chicken broth) and everything turned out well.  However, it was not as good as my mom's Turkey with Apple Sausage Stuffing.  I guess I will need some more practice.  It is a good thing that holidays come several times a year....

Recipe provided by my Mom
Serves a lot

Ingredients (for the turkey):
1 whole turkey (about fifteen pounds)
1 cup of fresh thyme, chopped 
1/2 cup of unsalted butter
Salt, to taste
Ground pepper, to taste

Ingredients (for the stuffing):
1 loaf of bread (white or white)
16 ounces of turkey stock (you can substitute chicken stock
     or chicken broth)
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
4 tablespoons of chopped onions 
1/2 to 3/4 cup of chopped celery
1 to 2 apples, peeled and diced
3/4 pound of mild Italian sausage, browned
1 cup of water
1 egg, beaten
Salt, to taste
Ground pepper, to taste

Ingredients (for the gravy):
5 tablespoons of all purpose flour
3/4 to 1 cup of water
Reserved turkey stock (or chicken stock or broth)
A few drops of Gravy Master

1.  Begin to make the stuffing.  If the bread is fresh, leave on the counter overnight to get stale.  Heat a the butter in a skillet over medium to medium high heat, add the butter, then the onions and celery.  Cook it slowly and stir often to make sure that it does not burn.  Once the onion and celery are soft, remove from the heat. 

2.  Continue to make the stuffing.  Pour the turkey stock into a medium bowl.  Take a couple slices of bread and dip them into the broth.  Squeeze out all of the broth and put the slices into another bowl.  Repeat this process until you have used the whole loaf.  Strain the breadcrumbs and the stock for use later in the gravy.   Pour 1 beaten egg, about a  teaspoon of salt, and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper, and some poultry seasoning.  Add the apples and the sausage.  Mix everything well.  Set aside.

3.  Prepare the turkey.  The turkey should be defrosted.  (The best way to do this is buy the turkey a couple days in advance and let it sit in the refrigerator.  If it is still frozen on the morning you intend to serve it, place it in cold water for a couple of hours.)  Before taking off the wrapper, read the instructions regarding how long it will take to roast the turkey.  The instructions are usually fairly accurate.  Once you remove the wrapper, wash the turkey thoroughly, inside and out.  Remove the giblets, set aside. 

4.  Stuff the turkey.  Place the turkey in a roasting pan.  Stuff the turkey, starting in the back of the turkey.  Do not pack the stuffing, but make sure that the stuffing fills the cavity.  Also insert some stuffing at the head of the turkey.  (If you have leftover stuffing, place it in a glass baking dish and add it to the oven when there is about an hour left in the cooking time of the turkey.)  Lace the skin over the closures.  Place pats of butter in crevices or on top.  Add water to the bottom of the pan. 

5.  Roast the turkey: Cover the turkey with the roasting pan lid or foil and put the turkey in a 325 degree preheated oven.  About one hour or so before it is done or maybe sooner depending on size of turkey, baste turkey with drippings from bottom of pan, this will help brown up the turkey.  Also add more hot water if necessary so the turkey wont stick to the bottom of the pan.  Also baste any stuffing that is sticking out of turkey. When turkey is almost done, (1/2 hour or so before) uncover it and let finish roasting uncovered.  Also keep basting it if necessary.  When turkey is a nice golden brown, and the drumsticks are loose from turkey, it is probably done  You can use a thermometer to check.  Usually the pop up thermometers in the turkey are not too accurate.  Take from oven, let sit for a couple of minutes.  Pull turkey from roaster and carve.

6.  Make the gravy: Separate fat from juice in the drippings.  Put into medium size kettle.  Bring to a  boil.  Add saved chicken broth and maybe another can if necessary and bring to a boil again.   Use a mixture of several heaping tablespoons of flour to about 3/4 cup to 1 cup of water and shake together to get the lumps broken down.  Put into kettle and stir.  Add Kitchen Magic to make it a darker color.  Gravy should thicken.  Keep stirring and bring to a boil.  If it doesn't, repeat the flour/water mixture but not as much flour or water.


As with chicken and pork, the conventional pairing for turkey -- a white meat -- would be a white wine. Most white wines would work well, with the sole exception of sweet wines.  Some possibilities include Riesling wines from Alsace or Germany, along with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc wines from California, Washington, State or Oregon.  Lesser known varietals, such as Viognier, or lesser known wines, like Vouvray, could work well with turkey.  A couple of white wines that I have previously reviewed that would work with this dish include the following:

Dr. H. Thanisch's Bernkasteler Badstube -- Riesling Kabinett (2009)
100% Riesling grapes
Mosel Valley, Germany
Flavors of green apples and pears

Black Ankle Vineyards -- Viognier (2009)
100% Viognier grapes
Mt. Airy, Maryland, USA
Flavors of pears, along with a little vanilla and oak

Some red wines will also well with turkey and stuffing dishes.  The wine that jumps to mind is a Pinot Noir, but also a Syrah from France could pair well with this dish.  A couple of red wines that I have reviewed that I think would pair well with this recipe are the following:

Thomas Henry -- Pinot Noir (2009)
100% Pinot Noir grapes
Napa Valley, California, USA
Flavors of dark cherries and strawberries

Privé Vineyard -- Le Nord (2006) or Le Nord (2008)
100% Pinot Noir grapes
Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA
Flavors of cherries, pepper and spice


For more on the history of turkey and stuffing, check out The American Turkey and Thanksgiving at The Journal of Antiques.

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